Monday, July 5, 2010

European Prides Diary: Czech PRIDE and shame 1

Clare Dimyon, who was recently given an honour for her work, sends us her impressions from her tour of the east-european prides:

Thursday 24 June - 12:35

Sitting in a cafe in Prague before heading onto Brno (the second city of the Czech Republic) for Brno Queer Parade. I was at Tábor Queer Parade last year but in 2008 was in Prague for dear Czech friends wedding. An easy anniversary to remember! 27th June – the anniversary of Stonewall so I have no excuse to forget. And these dear Czech friends are like family, I have known them and they are the reason I first came to Czech Republic and stayed with them in 1996 so I am always delighted to be in Prague.

Hehe... shades of NYPD Blues, the Prague cops have just driven past with “Serve and protect” in Czech emblazoned on their cop car. It always makes me laugh!

Later today I shall take the Student Agency bus to Brno (hot tip: Goes from “Florenc” bus station -cheap, free drinks and WiFi all the way!) to stay with the wonderful Ms Navratilova, not quite “the” Ms Navratilova... but as a moving force behind the celebration of PRIDE in the Czech Republic, J is up there! Hilariously, Navratilova (and they don’t say quite the same as we do) is a very common Czech name, not quite Smith but close! It is fitting that one of the moving forces behind Czech PRIDE should share a name with someone who (for my money) changed the course of every lesbian’s life, certainly of my generation or older with first her courage to defect to the West in 1980-81 and then as soon as her Green Card and permission to stay in the States was confirmed coming out. People could not forget that they had admired her. I know she made my “coming out” a couple of years later much easier than it might have been.

And Martina who has now reclaimed her Czech citizenship to go alongside her American citizenship supported the first ever Czech PRIDE in Brno in 2008 with a letter of support. One of the world’s most renown Czechs is a lesbian, one of the world’s most renown lesbians is Czech, it can be no accident that while not perfect yet, the legal situation for LGBT in the Czech Republic is one of the most advanced in C&E Europe with Civil Partnerships and Czech embassies across C&E Europe regularly joining joint embassy actions in support of PRIDE parades and the human rights and dignity of LGBT people.

I’m hoping to take such a message of support to Brno this afternoon where the atmosphere is positive but a little apprehensive with neo-fascists venting their spleen on various websites and threatening counter-demonstrations. With the difficulties experienced at Brno QP in 2008, the apprehensions are realistic but optimism prevails following good organisation with the police and that unique Czech conception, the “anti-conflict team” an English concept unknown in the UK rendered into Czech spelling!

I’m looking forward to seeing my dear friends both Czech and Slovak since Brno is only an hour and half from Bratislava the capital of Slovakia, where Slovak LGBT are glowing from the magnificence of their first ever parade, the Dúhový PRIDE – Bratislava on Sat 22 May where they made not only Slovak and LGBT history but also marked the milestone that in this 40th birthday year, PRIDE has been to every country of the EU! Last but certainly not least!

PS: The name of the Czech town “Tábor” means “camp” – Czech LGBT seemed to enjoy that one! A bit like the Moldovan lesbian telling me that the Moldovan national anthem is in fact rather “lesbian”!

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