As you might have already noticed, we love to attend lots and lots of queer events while we travel. We’ve been to several prides so far and the next one on the list during our trip was the one in Antwerp.
While not being that big of a city, Antwerp turned out to be very gay-friendly! There are many LGBT+ shops, bars or pubs and you can attend many queer events there, the biggest one being Antwerp Pride.
The Pride itself has been taking place since 2008 and used to be organised by the City with significant help from many gay organisations. For us, it sounds amazing and almost unbelievable that it was the City who initiated such an event! In Poland, the city leaders tend to stay as far away from this kind of celebrations as possible, because they are afraid of backlash. There is only one city in our entire country whose president attended Pride, and that is Poznań. So the fact that it was the City of Antwerp that wanted to create a gay event blew our minds. Also, in 2010 a new organisation was founded for the sole purpose of making Antwerp Pride each year, which is really nice!
The city of Antwerp is very proud of their event and is advertising it a lot! Besides, the Pride is funded in around 25% by the city’s tourist department and the department of diversity, in exchange for the promotion of Antwerp as a gay friendly capital. Antwerp is lucky to have such a supportive government!
Antwerp Pride 2016 lasted 5 days and every day (named in a funny way such as Glorious Sunday or Fabulous Monday) people could attend various events such as Antwerp Queer Arts Festival, lots of parties like Midsummer Party or many different, sex-oriented ones. The biggest event was the Pride Parade going around the entire city center.
In Antwerp, most people stand on the sidewalk during the parade and simply enjoy the show from the sidelines, but, like we said in our post about Amsterdam’s Pride, we prefer to experience the parade from the inside. That’s why we decided to march with this one, too! We are still not sure if we were allowed to do that, actually, since we weren’t a part of any organisation or group that signed up to take part in the event. It was a great decision to join, though, because it was amazing!
The parade is as colorful and happy as in any other place. There were a lot of people wearing quirky clothes and wide smiles! Everyone was dancing to the upbeat music and having fun! You could see many rainbow gadgets and flags waving in the air. There were also lots of stunning drag queens in incredible outfits!
The Pride in Antwerp is not as big and commercialised as some others that we took part in before, like the one in Berlin, but we think it was actually a very good thing! There weren’t many huge, boring trucks but a lot of smaller flatbeds, decorated in a very fun way! One had drag queens on leashes dressed up as sexy, exotic kitties, ready to be admired; There was even a hot pink chariot with a white unicorn at the front. It was fun to see the incredible visions of the creative people who designed them come to life.
There was also a big diversity of people! In between the platforms you could see many, many people from different minorities walking together. There was a group of asexuals, transgender people and even sex workers. They were proudly marching together with banners and transparents (transparents; get it??)
What also surprised us there was the Police. They weren’t there only to watch over the event but were also marching as a group, showing their support for the LGBT+ people. They were proudly advertising their presence. On Antwerp Pride’s website, you can read the message from the Police force, who wishes you “a pleasant and safe Pride”. It’s so nice and incredible to think that the gays can count on the Police to support and protect them!
Even though it was one of the smallest prides we had the chance to take part in, it was certainly a lot of fun and we are glad that Belgium proved itself to be an overall very cool and gay-friendly place.
If you are an LGBT+ person, you might be interested in our latest post: guide: LGBT+ travel where we give advice on how to travel safe as a queer person.