16 August 2011

Marching Under Rainbows To A Full Moon

No, I haven't forgotten you, dear reader of this blog.  As you can imagine, being in Prague kept me busy, in good ways.  In the course of eleven days, I saw two rainbows.  Here's one, which I saw from the Prague Castle:

 On my final night in Prague, I saw a full moon.

Even if you don't believe in any sort of mysticism or the supernatural, you know that this trip had to be amazing for those reasons alone.  But there was more!  Among other things, I found myself in the city's first-ever Pride March.  I didn't know that it was going to be held when I booked my trip.  In fact, I didn't know about it until I literally walked into it after returning the bike I'd rented.  

So, I got to see Pride with a European accent.  Although Prague has a deserved reputation as a gay-friendly city, I could see that some of the marchers were leading rather isolated lives.   Perhaps they live in some small village in lower Bohemia, or in some other part of the country.  I could say something similar about the German gays and lesbians I saw, including the ones I marched with. 

Even though I haven't been in Germany in a long time, and speak practically none of their language, I could tell they weren't from Berlin even before they told me as much.  And, even if they were from Berlin, I could understand how they might be isolated:  I see it all the time here in New York, which is supposed to be one of the world's LGBT capitals.  Some live in the "Gay Ghettos" of their cities; others are isolated by being in the closet or by not interacting much with their neighbors.  I see much of the latter among transgender people, particularly those who have careers and families and homes to lose. 

Many others, though, have nothing more to lose than their lives.  And too many do, in too many horrible ways.  I was almost one of them.  The ones who marched could be, or become, one of them, too.  That is the reason we marched--and enjoy Prague.  I hope to go back: to the city, not to much of what preceded it.  I'm sure those with whom I marched feel the same way.


Sophie said...

I went several times to Prague through the 90's and found it extremely strange in terms of social attitudes. The beauty of the city itself, the way shops and residential modernisations were being carried out, the casual friendliness, all spoke of a sophisticated stylish society. On the other hand mentioning Roma provoked a torrent of racism from everyone I met there. Finally stopped going when 3 people independently told me that at that time it was 'chic to be anti semitic'. One was in government, and one an internationally exhibited sculptress.
Great if thats changed somewhat and that attitudes towards LGBT people, which seemed mildly tolerant at the time, have improved. But I still wouldn't compare to Berlin. Of course one can be isolated here but when I first started transition there were 3-4 others in a similar way who I'd pass in the street or the local supermarket. And having a popular gay mayor helps.

Justine Valinotti said...

Sophie, What you say is interesting. It is a bit jarring, to say the least, to see the contradictions you described. Several people warned me about the Roma though, to be fair, I've heard similar comments about Roma and Gypsies from people in other parts of Europe, including the capitals. I didn't hear expressions of anti-Semitism; in fact, I heard nothing about Jews at all except when I went to the old Jewish Quarter and the Old-New Synagogue.