“Look, it’s the rainbow people!” It’s not the first thing you’d expect to hear a Prague cop gush, but this was August 2012, and the Czech capital’s police force was hot off its LGBT sensitivity training in advance of the city’s second-ever Pride parade. So when one particular officer made his first real-world spotting of our tribe—in the shape of a gay walking tour of the city, led by a rainbow flag-bearing Petr Prokopík—he could barely contain his glee.
Indeed, the rainbow people are now more visible than they’ve ever been in picturesque Prague. The city’s first two LGBT Pride events in 2011 and 2012 have done wonders to turn what was previously a rather scattered and underground gay community into a vibrant and cohesive whole. “Before Pride 2011, there were basically just numerous bars and clubs concentrating only on their own businesses,” explains Prokopík, founder of a local tour operator, Prague4Gay. “Alongside them were a few ‘islands’ of projects and organizations struggling for recognition and support from the community. The organizers of Prague Pride managed to bring them together. During Pride the individual ‘islands’ merged into one community, recognizing and supporting each other for the first time.”