An alternative to Prague Pride – that is the ambition of Alt* Pride, non-commercial festival that took place in autonomous social center Klinika from August 9 to 13, aiming to criticize Prague Pride’s commercial focus and many controversial sponsors. Here’s what went down during the week of queer events and festivities.
Text by Mahulena Kopecka
Scroll down for a photo report from the Alt*Pride’s bloc at the Prague Pride march by Jana Plavec.
The Alt* Pride philosophy
The second year of Alt* Pride, called “Východní Queeropa”/”Eastern Queerope,” focused mainly on experiencing queer identity in Eastern Europe and on questions of ethnicity and social inequality. The festival, organized by a group of queer activists and volunteers, encompassed a plethora of diverse events – from 9th to 13th August, visitors could attend workshops, lectures, debates, film screenings, or even a karaoke party or an evening of poetry reading, as well as a wide range of support groups.
The main idea and philosophy of Alt* Pride draws on the analysis of how capitalism is reflected in the Pride celebrations in general. The activists want to reflect on the influence of capitalism and consumerism on queer activism and community, and offer an alternative to the commercial Prague Pride. According to them, queer identity is not and shouldn’t be taken as a commodity or a subject of marketing because such approach continuously degrades it.
Celebrating and educating on the queer
The friendly and welcoming atmosphere in Zizkov’s Klinika was complemented by banners and colorful but moderate decorations. Most of the events took place in Klinika’s garden, where the grassy slope created natural amphitheater allowing the visitors could sit outside, listen, and debate. The discussions were very open and anyone could get involved.
On Wednesday, the festival began with lectures and debates. Marie Feryna presented a polemic with Susan Song’s article about anarchism and queer thinking, elaborating on the advantages it could bring to each other, but also on the situations when one or the other gets more significant. Then Magdalena Šipka held a lecture about the concept of the “sacred prostitute” called “The relationship ethics defined by women” and the first day of the festival ended with a queer poetry reading.
Max Power’s workshop for trans* people with physical and breathing exercises started the second day of the festival. The visitors could then learn about internet safety for queer people or about queer life in Georgia during the workshops. The program continued with a debate about LGBTQ and Czech radical left across various left-wing movements with different ideological backgrounds, and ended with a party and a gay movie screening brought to a close by a debate.
On Friday, Marie Feryna, Anna Wim and Zuzka Trestikova presented their views on the relationship between sexuality and experience of gender identity, detachment and demythisation of nonconformist sexual preferences. Very interesting discussions followed: reflection of Czech queer hip hop or a lecture about chemsex led by activist Michael Daniel Jettmar. Again, the busy day was finished by a party – a karaoke one this time!
On Saturday the “Alt-bloc” took part in the Pride parade, heading from Wenceslav Square to Letna, and then held an Alt* After Party with Blazing Bullets. On Sunday, the last day of the festival, visitors could attend a workshop about the meaning of anti-racism in queer politics or a final debate called Eastern Queerope. The Alt*Pride festival ended with a dance party.
This year, Alt*Pride wanted to comment on many different topics and subjects that are often neglected: class, ethnicity, the role of social inequalities, prejudices and phobias within queer communities or body integrity. The substantial subject of the debates was the critique of elements of the queer community itself or how the queer theme is thought of in Czech leftist organisations. Alt* Pride tried to discuss, inform, and entertain, and included even less represented and rather stigmatized topics—such as the problematics of HIV and PrEP—which definitely made it a more interesting alternative to the mainstream, commercialized Prague Pride.
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