Prague‘s third annual Pride extravaganza came to a hot and sunny climax over the weekend, with some 20,000 people taking part in Saturday’s jubilant parade. Attendance at the increasingly must-hit Euro Pride event was up by a third from last year and nearly three times what it was just two years ago.
This year’s parade route was the first to pass directly through the city’s iconic and tourist-thronged Old Town Square – a potential logistical nightmare for police on a busy August Saturday, but one handled with impressive grace and efficiency.
The full Prague Pride roster spanned an entire week, with one of the world’s most provocative and forward-looking Pride program schedules. Highlights this year included a Coming Out & Politics panel (moderated by Curve magazine’s gorgeous editor Merryn Johns, and featuring U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and politicians from the U.K., the Netherlands and the Czech Republic); a powerful Russian roundtable discussion called Putin’s Laws and the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Russia; an über-hip gay indie music club called Queer Noises, featuring performances by Czech queer darlings Musnula and French bearded diva superstar Burger Girl; and the Mr. Czech Bear competition.
Proving its ahead-of-the-curve position, last year’s Prague Pride was already strongly laced with anti-Putin sentiment, at that time denouncing the imprisonment of the band Pussy Riot. This year’s edition was even louder of its condemnation of the anti-gay Russian president, including a lipsticked Putin-head mannequin (wearing a Russia jacket that’d been transformed to read “Pussia”) protruding from a car in the parade.
Meanwhile, the Gloriette building at the U.S. Embassy in Prague was lit all week in rainbow colors, and the U.S Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, marched in the Pride parade. Other participants included NoH8 campaigner Adam Bouska and Indian hijra activist Abhina Sharkar, who led the march.