Some of Europe’s biggest LGBT+ Pride marches are being planned for later this year, as mass COVID-19 vaccinations raise hopes of a post-pandemic return to the streets, organisers said on Friday.
In Britain, where the government said a ban on big events would be lifted in June if cases fall sufficiently, Pride organisers in Birmingham, Manchester, and London, announced plans this week to stage their marches in August and September.
Elsewhere, World Pride in Copenhagen hopes half a million people will attend in mid-August.
“Nothing can replace that feeling that you get of being among your own people, taking over the streets, getting in the way, and causing that rainbow disruption,” said Steve Taylor, the director of communications for Copenhagen 2021.
“It’s super important, especially after people have had such a difficult 18 months,” Taylor said.
“For a young person, it’s quite possibly the first time they will have ever have truly felt a sense of community, that other people are like them.”
In 2019, there were about 1,000 Pride marches in Europe, but that number fell to fewer than 30 last year, due to lockdown curbs, said Taylor, who is also spokesman for the European Pride Organisers Association.
However, while official Prides went online last year, thousands of LGBT+ people around the world joined Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter protests, in cities from New York to London.
Taylor said there could be between 200 and 300 in-person events this year, mostly in September or October.
Many others are due to take place digitally again. New York City, which usually hosts the United States’ biggest Pride, is due to have a virtual march on June 27.
Some of the bigger Prides are planning for multiple scenarios, depending on the coronavirus measures in place, or – like Canada’s Pride Toronto – scheduling a mixture of digital and small physical events, such as art installations.
Fredrik Dreyer, chairman of Oslo Pride, said they were hoping to have three to four groups of 500 people celebrating in the city centre in the second half of June, rather than 50,000 marching and 300,000 watching, as they did before the pandemic.
Madrid, which organisers say normally has 2 million attendees, is preparing for both in-person and online events in early July, depending on government rules.
“We haven’t made any decision yet, but we’re not discussing the option of postponing Pride,” said Santiago Rivero, the deputy head of Colectivo LGTBI de Madrid, one of the groups that organises the city’s Pride event.
“Pride will happen. How? We don’t know yet. We want to take back the streets, but the pandemic’s course is unpredictable.”
-Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage and Enrique Anarte in Berlin; Additional reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York – Thomson Reuters Foundation