Over ten-thousand gather for GayPride, Paris 2017.
PARIS- Saturday, 24 June 2017
Thousands gathered around Paris's Place de la Republique to show off their colors as they celebrated their identities openly and proudly. For some, that meant wearing neon headbands, rainbow flags-turned -stylish tube-tops, and space leggings--Vogue would have a field day (I mean where's the Versace?). For others, less was more, as they stripped down to their bras and underwear, and danced to the rhythm of the drum on the parade float nearby. Regardless of attire, the feeling in the air was liberating; if only for a day, Pride-goers could swig a bottle of tequila in one hand, wave their rainbow flag with the other, all while dancing with a complete stranger as the most fabulous drag queens you've ever seen took the stage. Needless to say, it was not just love in the air, but glitter flying high, flags waving proudly, and thousands of fists pumping to the beat of French Hip Hop.
While most Pride-goers embraced not only their LGBTQ+ identities but also being young, wild, and free, there was still a sense of classic French conservatism. Face paint was nowhere to be found, the closest thing to it being a toddler who got ice cream everywhere but his mouth, even the girls who went topless or rocked space leggings were in the single digits among a crowd of ten thousand, and almost everyone wore pants.
Most showed off their pride with a rainbow heart sticker, a colorful sombrero (hooray for cultural appropriation!), or by draping themselves in a Pride flag. Compared to NYC's Pride Parade, the Parisians embraced their shoulder-covering modesty, and brought subtlety to an event that called for the opposite. Tradition, it seems, is stronger than spontaneous freedom of expression.
The GayPride event in Paris is a fairly new one to a nation who only legalized gay marriage in 2013, although the first Pride March for gay rights and liberties took place in 1977. Perhaps it's the classic French montra of liberty, equality, fraternity--a motto found on every major public institution from schools to museums to political campaign posters that persuaded the French to include the gay community in the "equality" factor of the equation. The desire to denote themselves as a modern, liberal nation that recognizes human rights for all (perhaps emphasizing that they are more progressive in this domain than other countries) brought out a slightly different crowd than American Pride events might.
It appeared that there were far more members of the "A" for allies in LGBTQIA that came out to Paris's event. While the majority of American Pride attendees are fiercely passionate democrats, members of the gay community, activists, rallyists, and the occasional friend that tags along, many of Paris Pride-goers were humble families that brought their children to be exposed to the aforementioned groups. Parents that have never themselves attended an equal rights march, protest, or related to the modern-day struggle of identifying with a minority found themselves among a crowd that did. But perhaps this is one step towards acceptance and normalization of the LGBTQ+ community in French society. And while they may remain modest and conservative in how they express their support, their presence there means more than they know.