Two Million People attend WorldPride Madrid
Reflecting back on the week of WorldPride 2017 hosted in the city of Madrid, Spain – one word. WOW. Every two to three years one city is chosen by the InterPride Organization, an association of all Prides around the world, to host one WorldPride. The city of Madrid won the right to host this year’s festival as well as the annual EuroPride celebrations.
The city welcomed an estimated two million visitors from around the world. I think one of the most astonishing things was that the entire city centre was effectively free of car traffic.
Notably the police visibility was excellent without having the feeling of being watched, judged and “policed.” In fact there wasn’t one negative encounter with the police. Furthermore, the authorities did an exceptional job in keeping both the city and visitors safe. There were reports earlier in the week that the Madrid Police had discovered a possible terror plot. That was quickly resolved and people went on to enjoy the celebrations without any notice.
Additionally, the Madrid Metro also did an exceptional job of moving people in and out of the city with very little effort. The metro lines were packed but everyone was so patient and in good spirits. It made for traveling around the city effortless and you felt safe.
Yes, the late Gilbert Baker would have been so proud to see how the city of Madrid really embraced the iconic gay symbol of diversity and inclusion. Memorable Rainbows included: an entire building and Chueca metro station wrapped with pride, courtesy of Netflix Espania; city monuments glowing at night with the rainbow spectrum to the hand tied 600,000+ ribbons creating a massive Rainbow Flag hung at city hall. The number of corporate sponsors and local businesses eager to show their pride was remarkable.
The Spaniards do know how to put on a good show and know how to party. The city of Madrid had 7 live sites that hosted various concerts, dance parties, and public performances. Some of the main attractions included the Puerta del Sol stage where the crowning of Mr. Gay Espana at the Grand Finale of this national beauty pageant; Plaza de Alcalá, rarely used for events, was the main stage of Pride where some of the best Eurosong Super Stars performed including Kate Ryan (Belgium), Conchina Wirsch (Austria), and Loreen (Sweden) just to name a few!
All the gay clubs and streets were raging as you would expect. However all of the mega dance parties put on by various mega producers like WE Parties were 45-60 minutes out of town. An estimate 250,000 partiers took to these venues outside of the city centre.
No big surprise but Madrid love to eat. Although the city may normally eats late, the week of pride many of the restaurants would run out of things as the evening progressed. The sheer volume of people was amazing. Did you know Madrid is home to the oldest continuously running restaurant in the world? Restavrante Botin established in 1725 serving up Madrid’s traditional cuisine. Some of the traditional foods include: calamari sandwich bars, churros con chocolate, and Oreja a la Plancha. Oreja what? Oreja a la Plancha is literally “pan-seared pig’s ear and is often sprinkled with salt or paprika. It was actually quite good, chased with a Spanish beer.
WorldPride opened the week with the Madrid Summit – an LGBT+ Human Rights Conference bringing over 200 guest speakers from all reaches of the planet. It was heartbreaking to listen to some of the struggles the LGBT community is facing in same parts of the world. Moreover It was quite inspiring how some community groups are rising up and making a brighter tomorrow. Some of the notable presenters included Canada’s own LGBT advisor to the Prime Minister, Randy Boissonnault, EAGLE’s executive director Helen Kennedy and the very passionate closing remarks from Gopi Shankar Madurai. Gopi spoke about the Intersexed community and the importance of remembering “…the diversity within diversity.”
WorldPride Madrid was an absolute glowing success. The city showed that over two million people from all spectrums of gender, sexuality, race, religion and identity can come together and celebrate our differences and find our commonality. It was a week of inspiration, a week of love, and a week of compassion.
Save the date: The next WorldPride will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in New York City in June 2019. I can hardly wait!
About the Author: Dean Nelson
Dean Nelson is the CEO, Executive Producer of GayWhistler.com and the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival. Dean is the founder of the Pride House movement with the opening of the first Pride House at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver/Whistler. Dean is an LGBT activist and social media contributor, and a travel writer. You can follow him on most channels at @gayWhistler