World-class gay pride parades in
Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Vancouver drew impressive numbers of people
over the weekend. The triumvirate attracted a stonking 1.5 million
men, women, boyfriends and girlfriends, and pink families.
In Vancouver, a 30th
anniversary pride parade reached half a million participants for the
first time. “We don't have any official numbers yet, but it looks
like almost 30 per cent increase,” John Boychuk, president of the
Vancouver Pride Society, told The Vancouver Sun. “People
are having so much fun, it's incredible.”
Sahran Abeysundara, the current
co-chair of the board of trustees of Equal Ground, a Sri Lanka based
GLBT political rights group, officiated as grand marshall.
Paradegoers screamed praise on the activist who was visibly moved.
“In his country you can go to jail
for being gay,” Boychuk said. “Be proud to be Canadian today...I
Another gay party drew half a million
revelers to a floating parade down the historic canals of Amsterdam
Boats participating in the event
included men and women dressed as cowboys, angels and devils, reports
Agence France-Presse (AFP).
One boat served as a reminder of the
plight of gays and lesbians throughout the world where homosexuality
is illegal – it remained empty.
“The parade serves a dual purpose: to
celebrate that we can be who we are and that we can do it in the
open, and to be visible, building acceptance of homosexuality,”
said organizer Frank van Dalen. “ We are here for the party but
also for the struggle.”
It was the 13th annual
parade for the city and the first to include members of the Dutch
cabinet and Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen.
Finally, Stockholm played host to the
annual EuroPride festival, where 500,000 people braved pouring rain
to participate in a colorful parade on Saturday, reports Agence
France-Presse (AFP). Organizers had expected 600,000
participants, but believed many stayed away because of the rain.
“The weather has been terrible, so
we're thrilled so many came,” EuroPride spokeswoman Anna
Soederstroem told AFP.
The week-long festival takes place in a
different European city each summer. Organizers have already
announced Zurich as their 2009 host city and Warsaw – a first for
Eastern Europe – for the next year.
Sweden is one of the most liberal
countries in Europe. Since 1995 the government has recognized
couples with civil unions, but officials say they are moving towards