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Pride, Quo Vadis …. ?

The first thing that comes to mind with the question "Pride where next?" is obviously our 10th anniversary next year. Indeed, already nine years ago, it all started with a small group of enthusiasts and a modest event linked to the larger party concept Navigaytion. There was no question of a parade or a Closing Festival. Yet, even then the seeds were sown for a fruitful collaboration between the city, restaurants, society, merchants and volunteers. And look, last year there were 70,000 people on hand to cheer on our parade and who walked proudly side by side with the uniformed police. Our partner Antwerp Queer Arts Festival organized for the second time a successful cultural festival and 100,000 visitors enjoyed the festivities. So yes,
our Pride is heading for a wonderful 10th birthday, and I want to say a sincere thank you to all partners, volunteers and sponsors who have made this journey possible ! Pride is a festival, but pride is also a moment to think about and reflect on what's still wrong of course, both for us here and in the rest of the world for gay, transgender people and anyone who has suffered from discrimination. This year unfortunately we were brutally confronted with blind terror and the misery of so many refugees. It has us shaken vigorously and makes us realize how exceptional but also how vulnerable our open, tolerant and prosperous society is. The pride movement worldwide has over the last decades successfully fought for equal rights and the elimination of discrimination in key regions of the world, but unfortunately the majority
of the world is deprived of the freedom and rights which we enjoy every day. Therefore this year Antwerp Pride has chosen as its international theme: the LGBT refugees. For them the question "Quo Vadis" is often of vital importance. Some compelling testimonies later in this magazine, force us to face the sometimes harsh reality in which many people struggle just to survive. It gives us an insight into why they eventually must go on the run to find a place where they may just be themselves in a safe manner. Here in Antwerp we can hardly imagine this misery, but it is the sad reality for the majority of LGBT people worldwide. As our mayor in
an interview further on in this issue indicates, we now have - thanks to the evolution of the past 15 years - the luxury to think about this issue because we have already reached "dry land". Do we want to wallow in this luxury, or do we work together with policy makers and civil society organizations to find solutions for these people? We are justifiably proud of our "enlightened" society. But do we choose a warm glowing light or cold neon lights? It is already very encouraging to read in the same interview with our mayor and alderman Fons Duchateau, and in the conversation with vice-mayor Philip Heylen that the city joins us in wanting to work out concrete solutions! As previously stated in this preface: Pride is certainly a party! And our city with all its inhabitants has in recent years proved that we are very good at it. It is therefore with great pride with which I invite you to enjoy to the full the rich Antwerp Pride
and Queer Arts Festival program with international stars. Let's party together!

Love United

Bart Abeel

President Antwerp Pride