My first Pride in Budapest
‘Don’t get your hopes up too high, Simon’, ‘It won’t be anything like the Washington DC Parades’. Just some of the things that some gay friends said when I indicated how much I was looking forward to my first Pride in Budapest, after 15 years in Washington DC.. I was not disappointed AT ALL and in significant ways it was much better than those I took part in in DC.
Assembling in front of the Parliament building felt special and talking to people it was also seen as such as it was so visible. There seemed to be a very small and half-hearted group of fundamentalist ‘Christians’ with amateurish-looking signs there but they merely stood there and shortly afterwards, well before we set out, slunk away.
The announcement of the route was only given to us by the organisers moments before we set out.
I had heard that there would be barricades as in previous years due to homophobic violence and was resigned to this but, wonderfully, there were none – apparently because the organisers changed the route at the last minute and so I assume, made the placing of barriers practically impossible.
I was strange marching through the streets and then being so empty. I have been used to cheering crowd 8 to 190 deep along the length of the march but here there were only occasional viewers but no-one who seemed to have come out (to coin a phrase!) to visibly support the march. A number of people waved from their balconies in certain areas but I sensed that were more regarded with curiosity than anything else.
One thing I was disappointed with, in the run-up to the parade, was the virtual total lack of Pride/rainbow flags anywhere – even it seemed in some gay bars and locations. This was disappointing but I suppose here the social situation is so different that what one is used to in ultra-liberal DC is not going to be found here – still I managed to (finally) purchase one and paraded proudly with it, near to the font of the procession and the music vehicle (excellent choices of music I thought).
I think finally the best thing about the event was that it was clearly important to all taking part, it took much more effort and courage, I suspect just to be here than elsewhere and it did remind me that the situation for the LGBTQ community is very varied depending on where one is. In this very important sense, it was the best Pride parade I have taken part in.