Prague will host its first Pride festival this week, beginning Wednesday, with the parade being held on Saturday. This will be the Czech Republic's second Pride festival - Brno, the country's second largest city, has been hosting Pride for three years.
Pride organizers are trying to focus on the event as a celebration instead of a political rally:
"It's not a shame to be gay anymore," said Daniel Kupsovsky, a festival spokesman. "Prague, unlike most of the Eastern European capitals, will not create Pride as a protest, but as a celebration of tolerance - and a street party, because we feel there is not much to protest about."
But someone forgot to tell Czech President Vaclav Klaus this Pride isn't political.
First he defended his deputy chancellor Petr Hájek, who said in an interview the event is "a political demonstration ... of a world in which sexual or any other deviation becomes virtue." Mr. Klaus said he felt no "pride" about the festival, saying, "It is one thing to tolerate something, but it is quite another to give it public support in the name of an important institution."
Then, he condemned a statement in support of Pride signed by 13 ambassadors to the Czech Republic.
Ladislav Bátora, the Czech Education Ministry head of human resources, also spoke out against the festival: "This event is organized by groups of homosexuals and lesbians whose demands against the Czech public significantly exceed the framework of mere tolerance."
The political controversy surrounding Prague's Pride is certainly a stark reminder that the United States doesn't hold a patent on anti-gay politicians. It also speaks to the limits of "tolerance" as a frame for queer and trans folks' political demands. The event is being framed as "The Festival of Tolerance," but this doesn't dissuade the hate mongers who aren't even willing to tolerate an annual party. The language we use doesn't much matter to homophobes. To them, LGBT people existing in public at all is too much of an affront.
Congratulations and good luck to everyone at Praque Pride this week, and a big STFU to anti-gay Czech politicians.