Top 10 Pride Festivals of 2018

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Love, excitement and rainbow galore decorate streets all over the world to commemorate queer pride. To dedicate an entire event to sexual and gender identity takes a beautiful proclamation of loving who you are. As we reflect on all the LGBT+ celebrations held during and after our Pride Month of June, we want to take a moment to highlight the pride events that drew the eye even more than the high-heeled boots of RuPaul.

Read on for CM’s top 10 pride festivals around the world.

1. New York City, NY

Because one day to celebrate who you love will never suffice, New York’s pride sets aside an entire week full of celebration and public events. Rainbow flags and umbrellas flurried the air. People of every identity and background came to celebrate or perform. Peacock feathers, balloon outfits and drag queens, oh my! However, this week focuses on more than rainbow nipple stickers (although not to worry, there’s plenty of that, as well). In addition to the rallies and parades, The Human Rights Conference occurred June 14th, a Family Movie Night screened films under the stars alongside the Hudson June 19th and a Youth Pride took place for LGBT+ teens and allies with free games and public performances.

2. Knoxville, TN

Dancing among the crowds of Gay Street (I’m not even kidding), this eastern Tennessee pride festival celebrated its twelfth year. The theme for this year brought about new changes, “Experience Pride,” giving queer-identifying people the opportunity to consider what they think of when they hear the word “pride.” This presented itself in a wide array of floats, groups of fringe performers transforming into butterflies and several church groups marching in support of the LGBT+ community. In spite of its stereotypically conservative location, the event gathered an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people over June 23rd, a massive jump from 2017’s 2,000-person crowd. Next year now runs the possibility of drawing an even bigger crowd as more and more people learn of the pride oozing from this festival.

3. Chicago, IL

Unfortuntely, the Chicago Pride Parade can’t dye the Chicago river rainbow like they do green for their equally famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But as one of the biggest cities in America, it comes as no surprise that Chicago’s pride fest comes in with a grand splash. The parade itself took place in the LGBT-friendly Boystown, holding host to 150 representatives in the floats. The pride didn’t stop with the parade either. In the wake of their 49th Chicago Pride, the city had a two-day celebration with music, drag shows and a pride fashion show. With three main stages to see the various forms of entertainment, think Lollapalooza, but much gayer and much less expensive.

4. Toronto, Canada

It’s okay to be gay, eh? Toronto Pride showed off its rainbow in spite of the rain on June 23rd this year, with lots to show for it. The organization made a genuinely inclusive and intersectional atmosphere for those gathered for the event, with everything from the Trans March for raising AIDS awareness to a space dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement. The event also held a moment of silence for those affected by LGBT-related oppression and violence. This came in an especially needed time after a recent capture of a Toronto serial killer that targeted gay men. While much progress needs to be made, leaps and bounds have resulted in solidarity such as this pride event.

5. Cincinnati, OH

This city holds the nickname Queen City for a proper reason: this pride event gathered a whopping 100,000 people for its 45th pride fest held on June 23rd. In spite of the rain, no place shined brighter than downtown Cincinnati with rainbow balloons, decked-out umbrellas and people of every age and background. Children from the Trans Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital served as Grand Marshalls, with sponsors ranging from Target to Pure Romance. Even outside of the parade, the city presented free musical acts throughout the day on two main stages.

6. Houston, TX

Everything’s bigger in Texas and this includes Houston’s pride festival. This annual pride event reportedly brings in over 500,000 people each year. Attendees brave the southern heat to celebrate Houston’s 40th pride fest on June 23, decked out with various colors of face paint (and hopefully sunscreen). Never to disappoint with entertainment, either, this fest boasts of an impressive host of talented musical performers. Among the line-up were Stephanie Rice, A Great Big World and Todrick Hall.

7. Seattle, WA

The second largest pride event in America blasted out its rainbow on the weekend of June 22nd and lasted until Sunday. With this particular event, the organizers created something for everyone to feel heard. On Friday the streets cleared out for the Trans March, while Saturday hosted the Dyke March, Family Pride and Youth Pride. The big pride parade took place on Sunday, concluding the weekend on a joyful and inclusive note. With the theme of 2018 as “Pride Beyond Borders,” the event reiterated that this celebration included everyone, regardless of what place you came from.

8. Atlanta, GA

Not only does this pride event stand out as one of the biggest pride events in a primarily red state, a very unique factor about this celebration involves the actual time of the event. Instead of June for Pride Month, the pride celebrations stem from October 12th to the 14th. This change of date centers around National Coming Out Day, which occurs October 11th. With a big parade in addition to a Trans March and Dyke March, the southeastern city dispels any stereotype that the queer community does not exist in conservative areas. Plus, October pride sounds eons better than sweating in rainbow high heels during June.

9. Sydney, Australia

If you thought a week was a wild amount of time to celebrate LGBT pride, think again. Sydney’s pride events stemmed the entire month of June, from the Pride Festival Launch on June 8th at the aptly named Stonewall Hotel, to July 1st with Pride Awards, a drag brunch and Gender Bender Bingo. This year brought about a particularly heartfelt reason for celebration, as well. As of June 24th, the 40th anniversary of Sydney’s first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Oxford Street installed a rainbow crosswalk to celebrate the queer community of Sydney. This re-installation comes after five years of the crosswalk sans-rainbow, due to it having been covered up by the Government of New South Wales.

10. San Francisco, CA

“Generations of Strength” emblazoned the streets as the theme for San Francisco’s 48th pride event, and for good reason. Over 100,000 people visit each year, and 2018 had over 280 sponsors for this parade to celebrate the LGBT community. As a show for this full-fledged celebration, a Dyke March and Trans March took place alongside the main parade for the weekend of June 24th. San Francisco Pride itself is a 501c3 non-profit that gives back to over 60 additional local non-profits, and recommended a $1 to $5 donation at the gate for the main entertainment acts. What better way to spend a dollar than to celebrate LGBT pride, as well as give back to a thriving queer community?

Natalie is a senior majoring English and Creative Writing and minoring Art History at the University of Iowa. She has an affinity for cats, caffeine and being unnecessarily dramatic in her hand gestures.

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