This weekend, the city of Belgrade, Serbia, will have its first Gay Pride celebration in nearly a decade—another march to celebrate diversity and show solidarity in the ongoing international LGBT equality movement. Rashad Robinson, GLAAD’s Senior Director of Media Programs, has been asked by the U.S. State Department to attend Belgrade Pride to work with other activists, academics and media professionals as part of the Diplomacy in Action Program. He will share his expertise in working with the media to shift cultural attitudes on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues—while presenting a profile of the US LGBT community, and GLAAD’s contributions as an essential player. This State Department sponsored trip, in conjunction with Belgrade Pride, will take place the weekend of October 10.
Serbians—only 10 years removed from the violent reign of former leader Slobodan Milosevic—live in an emerging democratic country, but must still be mindful of their very recent, very violent past. The independence of Kosovo in the late 1990s and the resulting war and genocide of ethnic Albanians is still fresh in the region’s mind and violence persists. The gay community in Serbia is often the target of violence, and Belgrade’s Pride festivities in particular have been known to spark violence against gay Serbians.
Just last year, the Belgrade Pride celebration was cancelled due to security concerns, and despite similar concerns this year, the LGBT community is committed to standing up and allowing their voices to be heard. GLAAD, the human rights organization Amnesty International, and other parade organizers in the region have voiced support of Belgrade Pride.
While Pride festivities have become commonplace among some LGBT communities in the past 40 years, they still are groundbreaking in other areas. 2009’s Shanghai Pride was the first of its kind for mainland China, the world’s most populous country and a nation where acceptance is slowly on the rise. Earlier this year, Nepal’s “International” Gay Pride was also significant. The Nepali pride parade marked the beginning of a heightened acceptance of its gay community and established the country as part of the growing LGBT equality movement, despite its past.
Pride celebrations across the world represent some of the same things—namely, an opportunity to peacefully demonstrate the unity of the LGBT community and its allies against oppression and discrimination. Yet for as many similarities as these events share, Pride marches encompass just as many local distinctions which reveal the disparity of acceptance from city to city and country to country. This constant and courageous march for visibility, respect and equality continues—and this October, Belgrade Pride will be the next step forward for Serbia.
GLAAD is excited to share our media advocacy work with the proud LGBT people and allies of Belgrade this year, and we wish them a peaceful and joyous Pride that will hopefully provide an important first step toward changing the hearts and minds of the Serbian people in support of equality for all.