PARIS: Saturday, June 25, 2005 - The
organizers of this annual event attempted to exclude news of it in Metropole by advancing the start time to 13:30 today. However word must have seeped out to Radio France-Info in time for me to hear it while
having breakfast around lunchtime. The café copy of Le Parisien seen at
the local tabac provided a confirmation of the time, and Montparnasse as the place.
This and the fact of my street
being clogged with traffic suggested that some serious nearby streets must be closed provided proof of the earlier hour. I decided to take up a viewing position at Vavin because of its selection of fall-back
cafés. This was as good an idea as any for covering a local event maybe involving
a quarter million Parisians.
In the event I arrived before much happened and took up a station along the railing of
the Vavin Métro exit in front of Le Dôme. A few cops were standing around in
the intersection, the one-time 'Centre du Monde.' Some young athletes climbed
up on the bus shelter across the way opposite La Rotonde, and more were on another, west, towards Le Select. They were tweeting whistles at each other.
The wide boulevard du Montparnasse has been disfigured
with a pair of bus lanes in its centre. These provide unexpected curbs in the
centre and bus stops with shelters, but the whole street was closed. I guess
the buses were going past my place, on their way to Austerlitz and Gare de Lyon.
A big cheer went up for the first
truck. These weren't decorated much. They
are big trucks with flat-deck trailers, hauling tons of loudspeakers and a few hundred kilos of dancers, who mostly aren't
decorated much either. The loudspeakers are loud, blaring techno or hip-hop. There's some rule against playing anything that might be mistaken for music.
Paris can certainly use popular parades, this Gay Pride thing, from an organizers view, is more political than festive. Oh, there are maybe hundreds of thousands that come for the party - if hip-hopping
behind a flat-deck crawling around town for six hours is fun.
Each year the parade has a theme and this year it was
the demand for gay marriages, and parenthood for gays. As such the parade is
a promo for changing the laws of the land. The underlying theme is always the
battle against AIDS, and its social and health ill-effects.
In a way the parade also shows off what has been accomplished
so far. This year there were flat-decks loads of Air France personal, a RATP
'Homobus,' and some SNCF folks were on another. The Air France guys had rainbow
And the Ville de Paris had a truck too. The mayor, Bertrand Delanoë
was in the parade and so was the national leader of the Verts, Yann Wehrling, along with Socialist heavy Dominique Strauss-Kahn. For the first time the union dudes from the formidable CGT were on hand. Slogan - 'Same rights at work and home for couples.' Other
major unions were in their second or third parade, along with the furthest-left political parties. Even religious groups took part plus the 'Flag' group, formed by the national police.
A press report
said that right-wing members and leaders were absent because they weren't invited - neither was I - but it might be because,
officially, they are against marriage and parentage for gays. The French, some
of them, want what's become legal in Spain, and other European countries.
I didn't stay to see all 80 'decorated' trucks
pass. Later the organizers claimed 750,000 took part, while the police estimated
300,000 participants and 250,000 spectators. Only a third of the trucks reached
Bastille by 18:00, while the last only got away from Montparnasse at 16:00.
Nobody is going to ask me, but this event
should just be called something like 'Sex Parade.' It's a popular demonstration
in favor of all of the weirdness in society so as time goes by the name is going to get longer unless some common term can
be found. 'Sex' generally sums up what most conservatives say they're against.
the parade through the streets of Paris is a slow moving monster of noise - the Fête de la Musique is a whisper in comparison
- it's a good thing the 'afters' are mostly in private, like at the Olympia. That
event, for the 10th anniversary of the magazine 'Têtu,' will surely require 'afters' until dawn.
Photo and Text Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis