Gay Pride moves eastwards to the Paris suburbs to better reflect LGBTQI reality

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After a hiatus due to Covid, Gay Pride returns to the capital on Saturday. Deprived of its floats and podiums, it starts out from the town of Pantin, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, better resembling the broad LGBTQI community.

The Gay Pride parade, known as Marche des Fiertés or LGBT Pride March, won’t have the usual podiums and floats because of the ongoing health crisis but it will have "our anger, determination and voices,” Inter-LGBT, the umbrella group of 50 LGBT organisations in France organising the event, announced on social media.

The first pride march was held in France in 1981 and for this 40th anniversary it’s ringing in the changes, beginning in the more working-class, ethnically mixed town of Pantin, in the east of Paris.

It's a way for the organisation to remain closer to the daily reality of the LGBTQI community.

The aim is that "the march reflects our members and the organisers, who don't all live in duplexes in the Marais in Paris, but in the banlieue,” Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette, spokesperson for Inter-LGBT, wrote in a tweet.

The Pantin initiative is also a way of “valuing local initiatives” he said.

Intersectionality

The decision to “move east” was partly motivated by the "clear disparities between how people in the northern and eastern suburbs (banlieues) were living compared to those in the capital", Gatipon-Bachette told 20 minutes daily. Differences which had become even more obvious during the pandemic.

In addition, while Gay Pride is still about combatting homophobia and celebrating queer culture, recognition of intersectionality within the LGBT community has broadened the voices looking to express themselves.

“Associations want us to be more mobilised around issues of racism and the place of the police, in particular,” Gatipon-Bachette said.

Erwan Passey, head of Queer Pantin said: “people in the banlieue needed recognition” and that beginning the march outside Paris "reflects the way the community is evolving and converging around different causes.”

Gay Pride in the suburbs

In 2019 students from Paris 8 university in the working class northern suburb of St Denis organised France’s first Gay Pride in the banlieue.

Youssef Belghmaidi, who coordinated that first edition, is positive about the Inter-LGBT initiative in Pantin.

“It would seem to be heading in the right direction,” she said. “Minorities did not feel represented within the Inter-LGBT pride, whereas this year the undocumented workers and sex workers are [mentioned] in the manifesto.”

Some half a million people gather each year for the Paris Pride event. It remains to be seen whether staging it in Pantin, an increasingly hipster suburb, will be enough to bring back disaffected activists who felt it had become too white and masculine.

The march begins at 13h30 at Eglise de Pantin metro station (line 5), ending in Place de la République around 18h.

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