If only to pay homage to the half-century gone by since the Stonewall Riots, you should head to Antwerp Pride this year. There’s a lot to be said (pro and con) about the increased capitalist rainbow-tinged messaging that surrounds Pride worldwide. But most importantly: the fight for freedom and safety for all, 50 years of progress or not, is far from over. Liberties granted can be reversed, it takes less than a 5-minute newsfeed scroll to realise that. Having the legal framework to freely express yourself is a fact wholly too major to take for granted. That’s still cause for celebration. So, stomp, swish, protest, cheer, dance and dip through what remains of Hot Girl Summer. You deserve. Here’s where to go.
THE ANTWERP QUEER ARTS FESTIVAL (AUGUST 5 – AUGUST 18)
In its sixth edition now, the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival (or AQAF) consistently provides the knowledge, inspiration and community at the core of what Pride represents. Themed ‘Riot’, this year you’ll get to savour installations, a Human Rights Friday event, cinema screenings, art and musical performances (fans of Cocaine Piss, you’re in luck), lectures, spoken word, an LGBT+ choir concert, club nights, a drag brunch. In short: a cornucopia of queer expressivity. Find the full programme here.
POC PRIDE (August 8)
If your Pride isn’t intersectional, it’s a hard pass. The founders of the BeHuman non-profit have had enough of the lack of queer people of colour representation at Antwerp Pride and decided to make a change. ‘POC* Pride’ at Zomerfabriek (free entrance) is set to feature a roundtable dedicated to Marsha P. Johnson and the Black and brown fire starters behind Stonewall. There will be a performance and dancehall party to finish the night. A whole-chested ‘amen’ to this. More info can be found here.
7 PM: The Life of Marsha P. Johnson
9 PM: #Messias performance
10 PM: Afterparty
THE PARADE (AUGUST 10)
It’s the most thrilling walk of all. Carefully construct your hast-thou-seen-me look, surround yourself with your people and chosen family and strut along the newly configured Antwerp Pride route from 2 PM to 4 PM on Saturday.
THE DANCING (AUGUST 8 – AUGUST 11)
Antwerp Pride has become synonymous with the free festival ‘Love United’. Held at Gedempte Zuiderdokken this year (Saturday August 10 from 3PM till midnight), it’s an open-air whirlwind of (hopefully biodegradable lol) glitter and all the bops a line-up of DJ’s can cram into their gayest playlists. Afterwards, head to club nights and parties such as ‘Woodpop’, ‘All The Lovers’ or ‘Drag Me To Hell’ if there’s more dancing left in you. There are various kink nights for those interested and a pre-closing brunch plus closing festival on Sunday to boot.
As has become custom, I’d like to formally remind all of you to drink your water (!), be safe and watch out for each other. If you see some bullshit, call it out. And lastly, if you’re LGBTQIA+ but won’t be joining the festivities for any reasons you hold dear, we see you and salute you. Happy Pride!
August 7 – 11 2019
Find the full programme over here.
Header image: (c) Ziv Sade