Grey skies and rain couldn't dampen the festive spirit of this year's Christopher Street Day Parade. The CSD parade is an annual celebration of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community in Berlin and around the world. This year, two parades were held: one focusing on gay pride, and the other, a rally calling for GLBT equal rights and an end discrimination.
In many respects, I would have preferred just one parade. Having two parades somehow diminished the soul and character of the event. The GLBT parade should be a celebration and a recognition that inequality exists throughout the world. Moreover, the parade is an opportunity for public awareness, and for the straight and gay communities to come together.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people view the parade, and many of those spectators are unaware that homosexuality is still a crime in many parts of the world. In five countries and in parts of others, homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation. Even where homosexuality is legal, many countries still openly stigmatize and discriminate against the GLBT community.
Observing the demographics of both parades was certainly telling. In one parade, the onlookers were primarily under 30 and of mixed sexual orientation; in the other, the observers were overwhelmingly over 40 and mostly gay. Next year, I hope the CSD parade returns to its more traditional form.