After a long two-year wait, the streets of the City of Brussels will once again be decked out in the colours of the rainbow, with this year's Belgian Pride Parade physically taking place on Saturday for the first time since the pandemic.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the Belgian Pride had to reinvent itself through online events, celebrating in a different way, but "nothing beats the most colourful parade of the year," said Laurent Mallet, the President of Belgian Pride.
"We are very happy to be back in town, this is needed more than ever. We really need to be visible, get back together and connect again," he told The Brussels Times.
During the past two years, LGTBQ people suffered even more from isolation than the rest of the population. "We really need our spaces to meet again. This is what Pride is about: the importance of safe spaces for the LGBTQ community to meet," said Mallet.
Pride Village at Mont des Arts will open at 12:00pm on Saturday, with the official march setting off at 2:30pm. Revellers will march through the city centre to Place de la Monnaie, passing through Bourse on the way to the Quartier Saint Jacobs, before making a final turn back to the Mont des Arts.
'A good start'
The theme of this year's event is 'Open' – for the obvious reason that society has reopened after two years of being closed. But the organisation also meant it to signify the urge to "open your mind, open your ears and dare to speak," Mallet explained.
"We want people to feel free and comfortable to tell other people about their sexual orientation or their gender, without any taboos," he said. "That way, people can just freely live as they are."
To achieve this, the Belgian Federal Government launched an action plan with 133 concrete actions earlier this week, in an effort to make the country more LGBTQ friendly – something which Mallet called "a good start."
He stressed that the Belgian Pride is the loudspeaker of the three founding LGBTQ umbrella organisations: çavaria, RainbowHouse Brussels and Prisme, which work all year long to push for policy changes and support for the community.
"From today, you can find their joint request to the Federal Government to go even further than what they have already planned," Mallet said. "It is not everything we asked for, but it is definitely a good step."
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Additionally, this year's Pride pays particular attention to allies, and asks them to "open their eyes and ears" to what is happening around them, what their LGBTQ friends are telling them, and how to support them. "This counts for family and friends, but it is very important that this is also the case in the workspace," Mallet said.
On top of that, he stressed the importance of daring to ask questions about things that you are unsure about. "If you are unsure about which pronoun to use for someone, for example, just ask."
This year, the Belgian Pride will provide stickers for all 100,000 expected participants that tell people what their pronouns are (such as he/him, she/her, they/them), or stickers saying "ask me" for people who are open to sharing with anyone who asks, but do not (yet) want to broadcast it to the world.
"That is very important," Mallet said. "People, including allies, could share their pronouns everywhere, such as on their email signatures for example. These are small actions but they will make a lot of people's lives better."
For more information on this weekend's parade check out the Belgian Pride's website.