Prague, Czech Republic – With its alternative “protest march” planned this Saturday in Prague, the Czech chapter of the Reclaim Pride movement says it wants to reconnect with the fundamentals of queer activism.
First founded in New York in 2019, Reclaim Pride seeks to “reclaim the Pride Marches as protests, and not parties for cis gay and lesbians”, believing that the Pride parades have become, in many aspects, too mainstream and not inclusive enough.
Reclaim Pride group seeks to revive queer activism
“There is a vacuum of activism”, explains Kryštof Stupka, the co-founder of Reclaim Pride in the Czech Republic. “When we saw that Prague Pride wouldn’t organize any parade this year, this was the main trigger for launching Reclaim Pride here”, he told Kafkadesk over the phone.
While Prague Pride is organizing more than 100 events, workshops and activities throughout the week, the traditional parade was cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
But for M. Stupka, a law student and prominent queer activist in the Czech Republic, the problems facing the LGBTQ+ community run deeper than the (in)ability to organize a march.
Underscoring the differences between the two initiatives, he highlights that Prague Pride has “no agenda to be political” and is directed towards the general public. “Inspired by the movements in New York or London, Reclaim Pride is in contrast a genuinely community organization, which defines itself as an inclusive queer platform”, he told us.
“I love Prague Pride, they do wonderful stuff”, he says, “and Reclaim Pride is designed as an addition to them, not an alternative”. “But I would say they represent the ‘older gays’ so to speak”, he adds, “and don’t really call themselves activists.”
“Protest march” planned for August 7 in Prague
While the Czech Republic is often seen as one of the most liberal countries in Central and Eastern Europe when it comes to the rights of LGBT people and sexual minorities, activists insist there’s still a long way to go.
Rise of online hate speech, political scapegoating (including by President Milos Zeman or far-right leader Tomio Okamura), not to mention the sterilization of transgender people: for Kryštof Stupka, the image of the Czech Republic as a relatively safe haven for LGBTQ people is biased and only based on the higher level of tolerance and inclusiveness observed in Prague.
“As soon as you get out of Prague, the situation is much more alarming,” he warns.
With the LGBT movement often described as a “radical leftist ideology” and an “attack against traditional values” across the region, the alternative march planned by Reclaim Pride could be targeted by conservative circles.
“For me it doesn’t matter”, M. Stupka brushes off. “My priority is towards the queer community”, he says, adding that they could ride the momentum to start a full-fledged organization.
For now, however, their focus is on Saturday’s March for Equality, scheduled to start at 1 pm at Hradcanske Namesti, in front of the Prague Castle.