Christopher Street Day

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CSD in Berlin
Dancers on a float at the 1998 CSD in Berlin
Drag Queen Olivia Jones in CSD Hamburg
Members of the Cologne CSD 2006
Float of HUK (an LGBT Christian group) at the 2006 CSD in Berlin

Christopher Street Day (CSD) is an annual European LGBT celebration and demonstration held in various cities across Europe for the rights of LGBT people, and against discrimination and exclusion. It is Germany's and Switzerland's counterpart to Gay Pride or Pride Parades. Austria calls their Pride Parade Rainbow Parade. The most prominent CSD events are Berlin Pride, CSD Hamburg and CSD Cologne, Germany; and Zürich in Switzerland.

History[edit]

The CSD is held in memory of the Stonewall Riots, the first big uprising of LGBT people against police assaults that took place at the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Manhattan, New York City's Christopher Street in the district of Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969.

On June 28, 1970 the Christopher Street Liberation Day marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride Parade in United States history[1] To accommodate the interests of the many different groups participating, the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee named the days leading up to the march, Gay Pride Week[2]

New York City has since continued to remember and celebrate the Christopher Street Liberation Day on the last Saturday of each June. It has become an international tradition to hold a demonstration for the rights of LGBT people in the summer. The first German CSDs took place in Berlin in 1979. Other parades before 1979 still had different names. The first documented LGBT parade in Germany was in Münster on 29 April 1972. The first parade in Switzerland was celebrated on June 24, 1978 in Zürich and was called "Christopher-Street-Liberation-Memorial Day."

Current situation[edit]

CSD Berlin started already in 1979. Now almost every large city in Germany celebrates CSD, with the largest in Berlin (Berlin Pride), Hamburg (Hamburg Pride) and Cologne (Cologne Pride). When Cologne hosted Europride in 2002, it attracted 1.2 million participants and spectators to the city together with the Cologne Carnival.

Due to organizational reasons, the CSDs do not take place on the historic date of June 27, but on different weekends between June and August. On the one hand, CSDs are considered political parades, and therefore also include speeches, political mottos, and attendances and patronages from well-known politicians. On the other hand, CSDs are often compared to carnival processions or techno parades, in which celebrating and partying are the main focus. This is the idea of all gay pride parades: through celebrating, the LGBT community shows that they can be proud of themselves and their community.

A typical Christopher Street Day Parade includes floats as well as walking groups usually provided by and made up of members of LGBT organizations, but is increasingly used also as a platform for political campaigning and commercial advertising as floats by political parties and commercially sponsored trucks are becoming more common. It is also typical to see many drag queens or women and men (mostly the latter) scantily dressed. BDSM enthusiasts also often participate in CSDs. The parade is usually quite joyous and has a rather upbeat and exciting energy to it. In addition to the Parade and the final rallies, in many cities there are days or up to whole weeks of street festivals and cultural events with artists, political events, lectures, readings, parties and other festivities.

Berlin - the leading gay city in Europe[edit]

"Kiss In" 2006 in Berlin
Kreuzberg Pride
Gay City Party Berlin or Lesbisch-schwules Stadtfest Berlin

The largest gay street party in Europe is held each year since 1993 in Berlin and is called Lesbisch-schwules Stadtfest Berlin. Today Berlin is the leading city in Europe, when it comes to gay events with four major gay festivals held each year: Berlin Pride, Kreuzberg Pride, Folsom Europe and Easter in Berlin.

The growth and commercialization of CSDs, coupled with their de-politicalisation – has led to an alternative CSD in Berlin, the so-called Kreuzberg Pride (Kreuzberger CSD) or "Transgenialer" ("Transgenial"/Trans Ingenious") CSD. Political party members are not invited for speeches, nor can parties or companies sponsor floats. After the parade there is a festival with a stage for political speakers and entertainers. Groups discuss lesbian/transsexual/transgender/gay or queer perspectives on issues such as poverty and unemployment benefits (Hartz IV), gentrification, or "Fortress Europe."

In June 2010 American philosopher and theorist Judith Butler refused the Civil Courage Award (Zivilcouragepreis) of the Christopher Street Day Parade in Berlin, Germany at the award ceremony, arguing and lamenting in a speech that the parade had become too commercial, and was ignoring the problems of racism and the double discrimination facing homosexual or transsexual migrants. According to Butler, even the organizers themselves promote racism.[3] The general manager of the CSD committee, Robert Kastl, countered Butler's allegations and pointed out that the organizers already awarded a counselling center for lesbians dealing with double discrimination in 2006. Regarding the allegations of commercialism Kastl explained further that the CSD organizers don't require small groups to pay a participation fee which starts at 50 € and goes up to 1500 €. He also distanced himself from all forms of racism and islamophobia.[4]

Berlin Gay Festival Month
Queer Film Festival February
Easter in Berlin/Berlin Leather Pride March/ April
Mr. Fetish Biker March/ April
German Mr. Leather March/ April
Bearversions Berlin April
Lesbisch-schwules Stadtfest Berlin June
Berlin Pride/Christopher Street Day June
Gay Night at the Zoo June
Kreuzberg Pride June
Lesbischwules Parkfest Friedrichshain August
Folsom Europe September
Lesben Film Festival Berlin October
Gay Rubber Weekend October
Hustlaball October
Wigstöckel Transgender Event October
Gay Skinhead Weekend November
Pink Christmas December

Politicians attending[edit]

Politicians often participate in CSDs, including:

In some cities, politicians are also patrons of the CSD, for example in Hamburg, the former First Mayor Ortwin Runde, and Ole von Beust, in Dresden Mayor Ingolf Rossberg, in Würzburg Claudia Roth, and in Braunschweig, the former Federal Minister Juergen Trittin.

CSD Hosts in Germany[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.gay-bikers.org/gay-new-york.htm
  2. ^ http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Christopher_Street_Liberation_Day_March
  3. ^ Butler, Judith. I must distance myself from this complicity with racism (Video) (Transcript). Christopher Street Day 'Civil Courage Prize' Day Refusal Speech. European Graduate School. June 19, 2010.
  4. ^ Ataman, Ferda / Kögel, Annette / Hasselmann, Jörg: "Butler-Auftritt: Heftige Diskussionen nach Kritik an CSD" published in: Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin) on July 20, 2010 [1]

External links[edit]