What to expect from Antwerp Pride 2021 amidst coronavirus countermeasures?

No parade for Antwerp Pride 2021. The ‘Empire of Freedom’ – or ‘Rijk der Vrijheid‘ in Dutch – comes a little too late, says the organising committee. But there are several main events. Bars and restaurants also plan their pride events. 

Antwerp will be a rainbow city in Antwerp with the core of Antwerp Pride from 11 to 15 August. There’s also Antwerp Queer Arts Festival (AQAF) and the ‘Trail of Stories‘ is visible the whole month. 

The organizers hope that the terraces of the catering businesses will be sunny and full this year. “In a year where our catering partners have had a hard time, it didn’t seem appropriate to tap their own beers,” says Antwerp Pride chairman Bart Abeel

Bart Abeel.

Possibilities

“Let’s hope that the relaxation [of coronavirus countermeasures] can be continued and that the catering industry can organize initiatives for small pride parties by August.”

Unfortunately between the press conference on Tuesday 6 July and today infection numbers have risen. Not hospitalisation numbers though. But still, virologists and epidemiologists are sounding a few alarms. 

#NotJust Words

Under the slogan #NotJustWords, Antwerp Pride focuses on online discrimination and bullying and on the hurtful statements about LGBTQIA+ people that are all too often made by public figures at home and abroad as well as in private circles.

The Studio on the Maarschalk Gerardstraat will be the place for reflection and panel discussions on the theme, but you can also follow workshops on including language use and how to deal with online hate. Human Rights Friday will also have an evening section for the first time. 

“With Het Roze Huis Antwerpen we look back on the ‘Zaak Zonder Haat‘ campaign and the film ‘Pride is Protest‘ is shown. In the Stadspark, in collaboration with Beeld in de Stad, author Saskia De Coster and word artist Hind Eljadid, we pay tribute to the five legendary but forgotten women who can be seen in the artwork ‘Figures of Absence‘ by Goshka Macuga“.

Operaplein

On Saturday and Sunday, the Operaplein will become the hub of Antwerp Pride, with the Rainbow Village

“The information stands will of course be there, as well as DJ sets and some small performances. You can look for new friends or a new love with Pride Dates and you can put on the roller skates on our roller track. The real roller skate enthusiasts can even participate in the Antwerp Pride Roller 3 Miles through the city center. 

“During this weekend, the Opera Square will become a bustling rainbow square with the majestic opera house as the backdrop. The new edition of ‘Trail of Stories’ is an outsider. The successful concept of last year has been retained.

Operaplein.

Ring

Antwerp Pride is very pleased this year that the Antwerp jewelery designer Nico Taeymans has designed a unique Antwerp Pride ring. This limited edition ring bears the inscription “Not Just Words” and is an exclusive memento of Antwerp Pride. The ring is for sale in the Antwerp Pride webshop or in the Rainbow Village.

All proceeds go to Antwerp Pride. 

In addition, Nico Taeymans has designed a work of art around Antwerp Pride that will be unveiled on the opening night. 

“We are extremely grateful to Nico and his team for this. Antwerp Pride would also like to thank all the volunteers who will make this edition possible, as well as its sponsors and all stakeholders who want to celebrate the Pride idea during this difficult year.”

Brochure

All information about these events can be found in the Antwerp Pride Magazine that can be found in all kinds of places in the city from today and which you can also get at our information stand in the Stadsfeestzaal, which will open from Saturday 7 August. 

All events will be organized according to the coronavirus countermeasures in force at that time.

2020 going on 2021

“It seems as if we have had to fight continuously over the past year,” says Bart Abeel. 

“There was the murder in Beveren, the degrading statements of the Vatican, the persistent nonsense of Viktor Orbán and co, the hypocrisy of the UEFA, etc… There seemed to be no end to it. It shows how important it remains to stand up for the right to be proud that you are LGBTQIA+. At the same time, all those negative energies have also generated a huge warm wave of support and solidarity. Let us especially celebrate the latter in August. I cordially invite everyone to this special Pride edition and I am already looking forward to a hopefully full fifteenth edition next year.”

About the theme

Antwerp Pride has had enough with the growing intolerance on social media, both outside and within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“How we interact with each other in our society starts with ourselves. Think before you post because words are #NotJustWords.” 

“With this theme, the organizers do not want to make big demands or launch calls, but they do want to express a concern about hate, bullying and discrimination on social media. But also in the mainstream media, according to the organization, worryingly often hurtful statements about LGBTQIA+ people by politicians, opinion makers and TV presenters have been noted in recent months.” 

Often these statements were made out of indifference, clumsiness or lack of knowledge, and sometimes – but not always – they were followed by heartfelt apologies. However, it still happens too casually and too much. Even within the LGBTQIA+ community, we don’t always treat each other gently. On dating apps or on social media, people are hurt and discriminated against for not living up to certain standards. Because they are too feminine or too butch, gender non-conforming or have a different skin color or…”

“We must not be blind to this either and as a community we must do some introspection. Social media makes it easy to export bigotry. What is currently happening in Poland, Hungary or what happened recently in the United States are not far-fetched stories, but should also raise our pilot light.” 

“How we treat each other starts with ourselves”, says Bart Abeel. “With this theme, we hope that everyone will take a moment to reflect on the words and the offensive language they use, sometimes unconsciously.” 

“We hope that people inform themselves about topics before making statements. That they take a breath before reacting to a news item. That greater empathy and tolerance is coming online. Rejecting someone on a dating app really doesn’t have to be done in a hurtful or racist way. 

“Especially with young people, words can leave permanent scars. That’s why #NotJustWords because words are more than words.”

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