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Gay Pride events go online to mark 50th anniversary

People wearing rainbow flags hold hands as they take part in a Pride March in Berlin on June 27, 2020. — AFP pic

LONDON, June 29 — Fifty years on from the first Gay Pride march, the LGBT community and their supporters took many of their events online Saturday, responding to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

While some activists took to the streets to mark the event, much of the movement’s energy was channelled into Global Pride, a 24-hour online event broadcast live online.

London Pride, one of the biggest events in the Gay Pride calendar, was one major victim of the new restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Online events replaced it under the slogan: “Postponed, but still united.”

But veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, wearing a rainbow-coloured mask, led a group of 12 fellow activists to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the London Gay Liberation Front.

“We are seeking to reclaim Pride as an event for LGBT+ human rights,” said the 68-year-old campaigner.

Some events were broadcast on the giant screen in Piccadilly Square and London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted his support. “We may be apart, but we are still united, as neighbours, as allies, and as one city.”

In Berlin, police estimated that around 3,500 people marched in temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted a message of support to the Global Pride event: “Be proud of yourself! No matter who you love, no matter where you live.”

In Vienna, around 200 cars and motorbikes decked out in rainbow flags and inflatable unicorns paraded down the city’s famous Ringstrasse on Saturday afternoon.

Organisers said around 5,000 people turned out to watch the scaled-down event. Vienna’s Rainbow Parade, which normally attracts hundreds of thousands of people, was otherwise replaced by online events.

‘Exist, persist, resist’

The online Global Pride event — running with the slogan “Exist, persist, resist” — got underway at 0500 GMT in London.

Fronted by singer and drag queen Todrick Hall, known for his role on the American Idol talent show, it also featured stars such as Kesha and Ava Max.

Politicians were also appearing, including Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, whose country has just legalised gay marriage.

Global Pride, put together by the organisers of several of the major Gay Pride events around the world, was aiming to attract hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama released a video message paying tribute to the gay New Yorkers who rioted at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, effectively launching the modern gay rights movement.

“Because of the movement they sparked and the decades of work that followed, marriage equality became the law of the land five years ago and just this month the Supreme Court ruled that employers can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ workers,” he said.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden issued his own message on video, in which he referred to a recent Supreme Court ruling reaffirming LGBT workers.

“Pride is particularly poignant this year,” he said.

In Argentina, public buildings and monuments will be lit in the rainbow colours of the gay rights movement, and local activists have organised a week of online events, even though Gay Pride is normally celebrated there in November.

Meanwhile in Mexico some 200 people marched along Paseo de la Reforma, the main avenue in Mexico City, breaking rules to help contain the pandemic which has killed more than 25,000 people in the country.

The first Gay Pride march was held in 1970 in New York, to mark the first anniversary of the city’s Stonewall riots, a landmark event in the gay rights struggle. — Reuters

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