Welcome to Antwerp Pride 2019

A word of welcome by our chairman, Bart Abeel.

50 years ago – I must have been around six years old – something happened in New York that, along with other events,  sparked the international LGBTQI movement. If it wasn’t for those events, I might very well not have been sitting here at my desk writing the foreword of the twelfth edition of Antwerp Pride Magazine.   

So much has happened since, so much has changed and been accomplished over the last 50 years. There’s same sex marriage, anti-discrimination legislation, the possibility to adopt, transgender legislation… Especially in our part of the world, we should consider ourselves lucky and have a lot to be grateful for.

At the same time, we shouldn’t close of our eyes and can only see that in many parts of the world LGBTQI rights are still very precarious. The story behind the Rainbow Dress – on display at M HKA during Antwerp Pride – speaks volumes in that respect (see further on in this magazine). But it is not only ‘elsewhere’ that there is still work to be done. We need to acknowledge that there is still inequality, injustice and discrimination taking place right in front of us. Ironically, it is those who climbed the barricades in 1969, people of colour, sex workers, transvestites and transgender people who are still prone to discrimination or downright hostility today. Even from within the LGBTQI community! And there are still youngsters, regardless of colour or descent,  who face great difficulty in coming out and being who they are.

At the end of June, we organize together with our partner the Roze Huis an LGBTQI History Week. It is a good and much needed initiative that brings everyone up to par with what the Stonewall Riots exactly stand for and what they represent even today. It helps us reflect on a reality for still too many people today of not-belonging. Also not to our Antwerp Pride. So there are still many issues to tackle in today’s society.

We live in interesting times where things that have been achieved over the past 50 years are openly being questioned once again. Where much needed updates are being considered as well as dramatic changes of direction. Our own Pride movement is not immune to this. Newspaper columns openly question the need for a Pride and whether we shouldn’t rather settle and be happy with our achievements. Other initiatives like Queer Pride in Ghent reject the status quo and call for authentic action against the ‘gentrification’ of the LGBTQI battle. Antwerp Pride aspires to give a voice to all those different views by offering a varied programme via different channels. Antwerp Pride’s mission is to reach out to and welcome everyone who feels left out. The decision to start this year’s parade at Sint-Jansplein underlines the ambition to involve the entire city to the Pride. 50 years after Stonewall, there’s still enough to celebrate and fight for. In other words, let’s have a RIOT!

Love United

Bart Abeel

Chairman Antwerp Pride