I’ve been to a few European prides over the past two years and what I love about them is that they’re way more basic than the super extravagant Sydney Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras has its place, and I love it. But you couldn’t get more grass roots, basic, and authentic than Zagreb Pride which was held yesterday.
The weather has been fantastic lately. The sun was shining, with the occasional cool breeze, when we headed on down to Marulićeva square to join the parade. We didn’t need to register, we didn’t have to learn any dance moves, there were no big trucks blaring out show tunes. No motorbikes, no running order, no rules. We were just a group of queers and queer supporters, and at 3pm the parade started walking through the streets of Zagreb.
It was something else, to walk down major streets like Savska and Ilica, with no traffic, no people, and no trams. We were walking on the tram lines! There weren’t really any spectators, either. Just a steady convoy of heavily protected riot police, making sure that the homophobes stayed away.
This was the first time in a Pride Parade where I felt like there was the potential for something to go wrong. All those kitted out cops made me feel safer in one way, but also made me feel uneasy. A bunch of jerks could turn up and throw stuff at us, and then the cops would get involved, and then it would get messy, and who knows what could happen? You could find yourself accidentally in a brawl, or injured, or arrested. And any of those sound bad.
Unlike Sydney, there were no hoards of spectators. Just some mildly interested tourists, and some glum locals wishing the whole thing would end soon so the trams would start running again. One man was wearing a t-shirt linking homos to paedophiles (original!) and some teenage boys who looked like they might grow up to be nasty little fascists, but otherwise, we were met with resounding indifference. Still, better than some of the alternatives!
We wound up in Ribnjak Park, drank some beers, listened to some fab music and generally just had a lovely Saturday afternoon out. It was probably the nicest Pride I’ve ever been to. I reckon I’ll be back next year.