Even though there were earlier protests against the harassing raids the American police regularly held in gay bars, the riots at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York on June 28, 1969 wrote history. Not only because homosexuals raised their voice and showed their fists, embarrassing the homophobic cops, but especially because the now assertive gay movement would commemorate this rebellion with demonstrations a year later; not just in New York, but also in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.
In subsequent years, this tradition was followed by many other cities in the world, and nowadays we see gay manifestations throughout the globe around the final weekend in June, for instance in many German cities with the Christopher Street Day Parades, and in The Netherlands on Pink Saturday, which this year is held in Maastricht on June the 20th.
In the mid-1990s in Amsterdam, tourist and competitive considerations gave reason to move Gay Pride to early August. This also makes it possible for the Dutch to enjoy Prides elsewhere in Europe, in Cologne for example. The city is easy to reach by train or car, and a favorite clubbing city for Dutch gays in need of a change. Furthermore, the Pride activities in Cologne last for two weeks, so there is ample choice. This year, the Cologne Gay Pride will take place from June 20 to July 5.
This year’s theme of - in proper German - “Cologne Pride” is “Vielfalt: lehren, lernen, leben” (Diversity: educate, learn, live), which wants to draw attention to homophobia and transphobia in the educational system and in the business world. Even though Berlin just had a gay mayor for the past thirteen years who was very open about his sexuality and stated that he was gay “and that is OK” when he took office, sexual diversity is still a controversial subject on many German schools. Research shows that a large part of teenagers is aware of his or her sexual identity at age fourteen, and that seventy percent of the gay and lesbian students come out of the closet when they are between fifteen and twenty-one years old.
However, a Berlin study shows that sixty-two percent of pupils are using “Schwul” (gay) and “Schwuchtel” (faggot), and that forty percent uses “lesbian” as swear words. In order to offer rebuttal to this aversion, often from ignorance and fear (of their own desires?), the organization of Cologne Pride organized the photo and video competition “Vielfalt leben.” In the competition, young people are asked to show the diversity in their lives at school, in training and in their spare time. The closing date for the competition is June 28, and the submitted material will not only be presented online, but also on the main stage of the Pride from 3-5 July.
For years now, the Cologne Pride is opened with “Fantasypride” in the amusement park Phantasialand in the neighboring municipality of Brühl, this year on June 20. One of the highlights of this festive day is the “Wet T-Shirt Contest,” a competition with usually voluptuous ladies, but during “Fantasypride,” only male volunteers are called to the stage to show their six packs and beer bellies, accompanied by applause, sharp comments and plenty of water. Later that day on the same stage, a “Bachelor Auction” will take place.
The proceedings will benefit “Aids Hilfe Köln,” while the participants have a date on the spot with the highest bidders. The “Fantasypride” will be closed from 22:00 with a large party, this year with DJs LittleMan, Scampi, Hendrixx and Felix Jackson in Area 1, Marktplatz Wuze Town, for a perfect mix of top 40 songs and schlagers, while the DJs rowDee and Addicted will spin uplifting house and electro in Area 2 at Rotunde Wuze Town. More information on “Fantasypride” can be found on www.fantasypride.de.
In the context of the Cologne Pride, the twenty-fourth Aids Gala Cologne will be organized on July 3. Unlike previous editions, the event will concentrate more on theater this year, and less on food and drink. On the pretext of “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen,” artists present their play with gender roles and identities on stage.
The Aids Gala marks the start of the three-day Christopher Street Day Festival, with a main stage on Heumarkt. Here, a varied program will bring diversity and joy to light. The street festival ends with the Christopher Street Day Parade on July 5, with participants gathering from 12:00 on Mindener Straße. Those who prefer parties over marching the streets of Cologne, can indulge at the men-only Cock-Pit Party in the Wartesaal am Dom near Central Station.
The full program of the Cologne Pride can be found on www.colognepride.de. And before you have recovered, it will be time to enjoy the Amsterdam Pride.