After missing out on so many Pride events during the pandemic, this summer I decided to go to as many Prides as I could in as many countries as I could.
I made a plan – nine Pride parades in six different countries around the world.
Pride is the same everywhere, right? Everywhere puts rainbow flags out and has a parade? Definitely not! On my trip, I really learnt just how much every country approaches Pride in a different way.
But first I had to plan which Prides to go to. Which parades are the biggest, or the best? Were there some grassroots ones I could support? But most importantly, both as a solo traveller and a trans person, I also had to consider my safety.
Being trans could put me at extra risk, even at LGBTQ+ events. Luckily I am quite far on my transition meaning in most places I can be stealth. But the question of safety is always one that lurks in the back of my mind.
I started out my summer of Prides in Austria with a week of events lined up. Vienna Pride felt like a very accepting place and it was certainly making up for lost time! I had an amazing time and met some really incredible people.
Next on the agenda was Zurich Pride! This one was all about trans acceptance and the fight for trans rights, which I loved to see. However, Switzerland is a mixed bag when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance, with same-sex marriage only being legalised as of July this year!
The events were spread over a two-day festival, filled with drag performances and temperatures sweltering over 30C. The Swiss LGBTQ+ crowd really seemed keen to make it very clear how accepting they are and how the media has portrayed them poorly.
Next was Paris, which was much more sombre. The parade itself was the day after the Oslo shooting. There was extra security around us and the Pride was delayed setting off.
Madrid, however, had a feisty vibe to the city’s march. I had learnt that the capital had tried to cancel Pride and all the related celebrations that happened around the city. At the introduction, where they invited Madrid Pride officials, Ukrainian refugees and the President of Euro Pride were all there to give speeches.
One thing really stood out to me was their fierce resilience to the suggestion that Pride could be shut down in their city. Crowds cheered as they said on stage: “They tried to shut us down but we are still here, and we are loud.”
After Spain, I returned to the UK. My next Pride was Brighton. As a mainstream Pride it had less of the sparkle that I’d seen across Europe – it was heavily filled with corporate banners and seemed to be missing the fight for our rights that Pride has always been about. Trans Pride Brighton, however, still has that magical feeling to it.
Then it was back to Europe for Pride in Berlin! This might be the biggest one I went to, or at least it seemed that way. There were 3km of floats and people walking, partying and having a good time. For me, it was a juxtaposition with what we, in British schools, get taught about how Germany is.
Although, it still seemed the case Berlin does march to the beat of its own drum, with some differing laws and a huge queer scene.
Copenhagen really showed me that Pride can be a place to celebrate. I experienced a week full of various history talks, DJ sets, art displays and drag shows – it was so rich in culture and entertainment yet they still found time to continue the fight and retained a protest element to their Pride.
They also showed solidarity with their neighbours in Norway, as they stood proud and led the march.
Manchester was my final Pride of my huge summer tour. After Brighton I had lowered my expectations, but my last Pride actually surpassed all of them. The parade was way more interactive with lots of stickers and the occasional sweets, too!
Then the stages were full of great acts – a huge variety of performers from drag acts (both kings and queens!) to a car park-turned-dance tent as well as Canal Street, which of course was beyond crowded!
This summer I have been spoiled with the Prides that I have attended. It’s been amazing to have Pride back in person! There is nothing like being in a safe place populated with LGBTQ+ people wanting to carry on the fight for our rights – in multiple countries.
But I couldn’t have done any of it without Just Like Us as, after years of volunteering with the charity, it has boosted my confidence and helped me feel proud enough to do Pride nine times!
Roan volunteers with Just Like Us, the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity. They need LGBTQ+ volunteers aged 18-25 to speak in schools – sign up now.