Celebrating Pride in Paris
On June 28th, 1970, the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the first Pride marches were held in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Thousands of people gathered to commemorate Stonewall and to fight for equal rights. Since then, countries around the world participate in Pride parades, marches, and demonstrations in remembrance and to celebrate each other's identities. Some countries hold Pride in June, while others celebrate in February, August, or September. But I’m here to talk about one city in particular this Pride Month: Paris!
I’ve visited Paris not once, not twice, but three times. I studied abroad in Paris with CEA CAPA during undergrad, but this past year was the longest time I spent in the city, living and learning there for over a year while earning my master's degree. I took advantage of this temporary relocation to attend as many events as possible, and Paris’ Pride, the Quinzaine des Fiertés, was by far one of the biggest celebrations!
The Quinzaine des Fiertés is an annual activist and festive event that takes place over two weeks in June. More than fifty pride events are planned, including debates, conferences, screenings, shows, exhibitions, and parties that give visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community and cause. This year’s Paris Pride March is June 24th, 2023, and it’s estimated that over 700,000 people will flock to the city. The march starts at 2 p.m. at Nation, and a big stage performance awaits you at République from 5 p.m. onwards. From my Parisian apartment, I could hear the parade throughout the entire city, and by the time I made my way through the bustling metro and to Place de République, the crowd was intense. I’m talking tons of people, someone singing and waving a Pride flag from on top of a bus stop (still no idea how they got up there), and throngs of people cheering and clinging to the Statue de la République. DJs and live music added to the celebratory atmosphere, and I must have got sprayed with about ten cans of colored silly string before I finally found my friends in the crowd! Now, I’m an introvert, so I may have needed a drink or two to settle in… But once that was handled, I felt more than ready to dance and cheer on the floats as they passed by!
Following the parade and congressional event, Pride-goers usually spill out into the streets of Paris to continue their celebrations into the night. The restaurants, bars, and clubs in the central arrondissements spend weeks preparing for this day, which yes, means drink specials, elaborate décor, and music everywhere you go – expect to hear a ton of Charli XCX, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce, but who’s complaining? After Pride at République closed out with a banger song, my friends and I followed the crowd to Le Marais, a gay district known for hosting most of the LGBTQIA+ bars, restaurants, and shops. During Pride, the neighborhood boasts non-stop parties throughout the weekend. The busiest streets are Rue des Ecouffes, Rue du Temple, and Rue Vieille du Temple. Later my friends dragged me into a club that spouted soap bubbles everywhere. I think we ended up in a cellar at some point that was blasting Katy Perry music, only to miraculously end the night with a chill round of drinks outside of a bistro.
LGBTQIA+ CULTURE IN PARIS
This year's Pride comes ten years after gay marriage was finally legalized in France. All of which is to say that the visibility of the Pride March serves an important purpose, along with all the other stellar events Paris offers in June. La quinzaine des libertés (two weeks of Pride) includes Munnezza: Iel, Queer et Amour, an exhibition of Italian and French artists at the Italian Cultural Center. It was one of my favorite exhibits that I went to during 2022 Paris Pride!
Now, I’m not the biggest partier, but I occasionally crave a good night out. If you’re looking for more than just a drink or two, there are tons of places that are dedicated LGBTQIA+ spaces that you can visit all year long!
For example, we’ve all heard of Shakespeare and Co, but Violette and Co is a bookstore with a difference. This feminist and queer bookstore sells books on everything from sex to photographic anthologies. It’s also lesbian founded and run, and the owners are super nice (they gave me a free bookmark!).
If you're into exciting evenings with less crowds, head to Pigalle. Cabaret Michou is an authentic French cabaret with the best drag acts and troupes in Paris. It’s a super fun night for anyone who likes to indulge in a bit of camp glory, and worth the entrance fee. Some friends and I ended up heading here after the prices for a show at the Moulin Rouge gave us heartburn.
If you’re in need of a tattoo, Paris has great queer-friendly tattoo parlors. I never ended up getting that tattoo in Paris like my friends dared me to, but if I had, Mutant.e.s. was at the top of my list! It’s a queer and feminist tattoo shop where inclusivity is an essential part of their mission. Check them out on Instagram – their artist designs are to die for!
Pride Month in Paris is a vibe, and it was actually my first Pride! Seeing how Pride expresses itself in different parts of the world is truly special, and if I could attend every Pride parade I would! It’s also important to continue to carry the essence of Pride year-round, supporting one another, and encouraging each other to be true to ourselves. It’s nice to think that, in places all over the world, people are thinking and inspiring the exact same thing! Joyeuse Pride!
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