In 2009, this was an easy question: because those who attend have something to be afraid of. I wasn’t there when the counter-protesters could get really close to the march, but that’s what made me go the first time, that’s what made me understand what the march can mean.
Before that, the Pride March was just a party – other people’s party, one that is too loud for me and with music I don’t even like. I didn’t feel like I had to be there, it wasn’t my place to be. But when counter-protests began, with people who wanted to make protesters afraid, it clicked: people who attend make a statement. I don’t want to make myself seem heroic, if eggs were hurled at me a year prior, I might have stayed at home, and it’s very possible that I wouldn’t even have gotten close to Andrássy út. But I wasn’t hurt, and other people were, I was just pissed off.
A few years later, the answer was still easy: For world peace. Slowly but surely, the march had started to be fun again, we weren’t scared, I wasn’t there to take a stand, I was there because I was having a great time.
Cool, but what about now?
The intermediate phase is over, it’s not starting to be fun, it is fun, it’s an actual party. In my world, among my friends (in my filter bubble) it’s not news that you’re attending, it’s news if you aren’t. We don’t call each other to ask who’s coming, we call each other to check when to meet at Heroes’ Square.
Why am I attending this year? Can I answer that question in 2017?
Because it’s fun.
More and more people decide to attend every year, and with each new person the party gets more fun: more colorful, louder and more varied. I’m not the type of person who can find enjoyment in everything, I was annoyed in the first few years that the only option for music was early 2000’s electronica, and I could only opt in or opt out by means of being within or outside of earshot - those were the years of walking far away from the music and socializing.
But since a few years the spectrum has expanded to the max! There are hippies with drums, there are drag queens, there are people who dance through the whole thing, there are people who just casually take a walk, there are families, little kids, everything. The march is not uniform any more, it’s no longer for a single type of people - even if the press likes to pretend it is so.
Because it’s important for LGBTQ+ people.
I do not mean my attendance, personally, but the allies as a group. All the straight, cisgender people, who don’t actually experience this kind of discrimination.
Every time there is some sort of march or demonstration, I have to ask myself: does it matter if I go? Am I actually contributing anything, or am I just doing it out of liberal guilt?
The Pride March is one of the very few events where my answer is still unequivocally yes. I don’t think it’s my place to talk about whether or not the Pride is a good representation of LGBTQ+ people. Even though allies have a place in the movement, and even though there are more and more of us, it’s still not about us.
What I can bring to the table is, make the march as fun, accepting, and colorful as it can be. This has been said a lot before, but it doesn’t make it any less true: it’s pretty amazing to see a few thousand people finally getting a chance to be themselves. Budapest Pride can bring this community and their issues to the forefront, and that is important. I honestly don’t care how small my contribution is - it’s worth it.
Because it’s important to me.
We go to marches and demonstrations because it gives us something. Liberal guilt and our conscience simply wouldn’t be enough to make this many people get off their couches. We don’t expect these events to be a quick fix, nothing will change by tomorrow, or by next month; but still, every year it feels like it has been worth it.
I’m not gonna lie, a part of this has to be my sense of duty - but I’m way too lazy for that to be enough.
Marching for something, being surrounded by people who feel the same way you do gives you an outlet, a way to process your feelings about something, a way to deal with your frustrations - and we have an abundance of things to be frustrated about right now. Not only about LMBTQ+ issues, but a plethora of other things makes us frustrated, desperate and angry, and being around ten thousand energetic and happy people for a few hours makes coping with those emotions a lot easier. Another thing that has been said before, but still remains just as true: for an afternoon, you can feel like the world is getting closer to how it should be.
The Pride March gives you a sense of community, which is something I believe everyone should experience. See you there!