Marking the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City (NYC), the United States had pride parades in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and of course NYC. The focal points of the weekend were the people who made the Supreme Court rulings possible: the San Franciscan parade had two couples who brought the Prop 8 case in front of the Supreme Court—Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo—who were married just after the marriage ban was lifted; and Edith Windsor, the woman who was the plaintiff in the DOMA case, helped lead the march in NYC.
Internationally, pride parades were met with different reactions, though all of them included some sort of large political message. A week ago, on the one-month anniversary of gay marriage in France, Paris held its always popular pride parade, marching to the Place de la Bastille, the location for its traditional huge dance party. In Istanbul, the pride parade joined with the thousands of protesters already in Taksim Square and marched down Istiklal Avenue with banners of support written in Turkish, Armenian, Kurdish, and Arabic. Pride parades in Bogota, Caracas, and Toronto were also well attended and celebrated.
Things were a little bit different in Russia. The Russian government has always been openly hostile to its lgbt community, beating, arresting, and detaining known queer people, their allies, and their supporters. Last year the Russian government upheld the Tverskoy District Court ruling that banned gay pride parades from the city of Moscow for 100 years. While it sounds like satire, the government is quite serious about it, and has received condemnations from international human rights groups, including the European Court of Human Rights.
On Saturday, June 29, protesters were arrested in a pride rally in St. Petersburg. Nationalist civilians, who outnumbered the protesters 5 to 1, also showed up, throwing rocks and eggs and shouting “Sodomy will not pass.”
This year, in protest of the government, Russian lgbt activists decided they would have their pride parade, just away from their native soil. The day after the protests in Russia, supporters took to the streets during the NYC pride parade and held their own “Virtual Pride” < http://www.virtualpride.org/>. Using geolocation and social networking technology, every step of the parade route showed on a map of Moscow in the route that the pride parade would have taken, and supporters populated the route by using the hashtag #virtualpride to make speech bubbles pop up along the route.
Virtual Pride was officially supported by the directors and organizers of the parade. Tish Flynn, media director for NYC Pride, explained, “We think it’s really important that anyone is allowed to celebrate a pride. If it’s not a safe space where they live, either internationally or here, we feel like everyone should be able to take part in some sort of pride celebration.”
While attitudes in Russia have not gotten better toward lgbt people, the ever-increasing spread of pride parades and positively-changing attitudes shows a lot of progress throughout the world. It is definitely a season to feel pride, and celebrate.