During quarantine life, we all miss our vacations, not only because they are the epitomes of our freedom but also because we love to explore the world. The qLit team wants to make these times of temperance and self-discipline a little easier, so we keep on bringing you inspiring lesbians from all over the world, inviting you to a virtual journey, this time to Prague.
Hello, Kamila. Can you introduce yourself please?
My name is Kamila Fröhlichová, I live in Prague, the Czech Republic. I work in culture management and production. My main job is outside of the LGBT movement but organizing the Prague Pride and other LGBT-related events takes most of my free time. I’ve been a member of Prague Pride festival team since the beginning in 2011. Working in a team of enthusiasts rather than professionals was very challenging and made me embrace new skills, usually under great pressure. I started as a marketing manager for the Pride festival but moved on to a position of a main programmer and producer of Pride Village (a 6-day program) and for Prague Pride 2020 I’ve taken on production of Pride Park (1 day, 6 music stages) with the audience of 30,000 people and a budget reaching to 1 million CZK.
I was also lucky to join several other activities such as launching an LGBT peer-to-peer mentoring website in 2015 (www.sbarvouven.cz) and introducing Beaver queer femme party to enhance social life of lesbians in Prague. A fun fact is that only joining the Prague Pride team brought me to the Czech LGBT community; I used to have only heterosexual friends before.
I guess now because of COVID-19, the Prague Pride may be postponed, just like in Budapest, but let us hope it won’t. Tell us a little bit about the general situation of the LGBTQ+ community in your country.
Czech LGBT people live a good life as far as they blend with the majority and don’t stick out. Lesbians are tolerated rather than accepted if their appearance is feminine enough and if they don’t publicly present feminist views. It doesn’t make any difference if you live in a big city or in a village. What matters is the closer context (of family and friends) you live in. You can live a happy ordinary life if your parents and relatives are ok with your lesbian orientation and if your school mates or colleagues at work find it “normal”.
Lesbian couples and lesbian families are obviously more acceptable for the public than gays. Yet the situation is far from perfect. According to a survey by Median agency from December 2019, for 47% of Czechs it is unpleasant to see two women publicly showing affection, while 66% of Czech don’t like seeing two men.
The Czech LGBT community has been recently unified by an equal marriage campaign that started by creating a Coalition for Marriage consisting of six LGBT organizations. The Equal Marriage Bill was introduced to the Parliament in June 2018 but the MPs opened discussion about it only twice and haven’t taken a vote yet. They used similar strategy with the Adoption Bill in 2014 – they simply ignored it till the end of the election period.
They don’t want to accept the simple fact that in countries allowing same sex marriage LGBT people and especially teenagers feel safer and suffer less depression and suicidal tendencies. The problem in the Czech Republic is that 37% of people claim they don’t know anyone who is LGBT. The generally known rule is that the closer relationship a person has to LGBT people, the more open-minded the person is towards LGBT rights and issues.
As a matter of fact, similar results were found in Hungary too. Now tell us about Prague.
As Prague is the capital city, many LGBT people leave their small towns and come to live here and enjoy anonymity and diversity. International companies offer working environments with diversity. On the other hand, small Czech businesses and majority of state institutions believe that that there are no gay people among their staff. In Prague, there is a high chance that kids of various ethnic background will be in your kid’s class; thus having two mothers is not a big deal.
In the Czech Republic, there are over 1,000 children living in rainbow families. The city management supports LGBT rights and is determined to cherish the LGBT-friendly image of Prague. In 2019, the Mayor of Prague hung the rainbow flag on the city hall building for the first time in history during Prague Pride festival. It was a big symbolic moment for us but was met by strong disagreement from several political parties and the church.
For 2020 the mayor of Budapest promised the same; we’ll see. Can you say a couple of words about lesbian* social life in Prague?
Lesbian social life is rather poor in Prague. Currently, there is only a single bar for lesbians (Jampa Dampa). There used to be more of them such as Sapfo or Blaze but they went bankrupt. We suffer from a lack of specifically lesbian events. Freedom Night lesbian parties are popular but they focus on pop music and young audience. In 2018 the Prague Pride team launched the Beaver queer femme party which features DJs both from abroad and from Prague, offering a wide range of accompanying events such as art exhibits, feminist discussions, workshops, queer pub quiz etc. Beaver is held twice a year – during summer Pride festival and in winter when beavers have really thick coats. At the winter edition of Beaver 2020 we had a performance by the first Czech drag kings.