Together and Proud in Vienna

I´ve been a bit lazy about blog writing lately, what with the nice summer weather and so many photo opportunities around town that I can hardly catch up even with the photo editing.  But I do want to show some of my recent photos from the day of the Lifeball 2019 in Vienna, and I want to give some background to this event and to the special EuroPride celebrations it is a part of.

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When Vienna´s trams are rainbow-colored…

EuroPride is a pan-European event dedicated to LGBTIQ pride, hosted by a different European city each year.   This year Vienna is honoured to be its host from 1 to 16 June.  Whether or not you identify with one of these orientations does not really matter, the events are fun for everyone and at the very least interesting and deserving of support.  But why is Pride even celebrated?

In June 1969, a seemingly insignificant incident occurred in a New York bar, now famous as “Stonewall”, after the Stonewall Inn where it happened.    It was the birth of the modern LGBTIQ movement, because for the first time in history, lesbians, gay and transgender people massively defended themselves against the then customary police harassment.  As gays, lesbians, and transgender people began making themselves visible, “coming out” (of the virtual closet), they also began enjoying the freedom to be themselves, and things gradually began improving for them from there.  In Vienna, the Rainbow Parade (Regenbogenparade) first took place in 1996, quite a long time after the first Christopher Street Day parades in the United States, which began in 1970.

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No police harassment on this day in Vienna, just friendly information

The last Lifeball?

This year´s Lifeball event marks the 26th anniversary of what has become an annual institution in Vienna.   The proceeds from this charitable event are used to support HIV and AIDS programmes.  The balance sheet over a quarter century adds up to almost €30 million in donations for national and international AIDS charity projects.   Sadly, this may have been the last Lifeball – unless new sponsors and organizers can be found.  Vienna´s mayor certainly made a public plea at the ball to show support and make resources available so that this tradition can continue.  For now, after 26 years, its founder Gery Keszler has announced that he will no longer be organizing the Lifeball, primarily due to increasing difficulty to secure sponsors and donors for the ball.   The success of drug development to fight the HIV virus, and the many successes around the world to reduce stigma and discrimination, may have led to donor fatigue.    This is deplorable, as in many developing countries the fight is very far from over (for more on this, see this excellent article by historian Yuval Hariri).  The WHO estimates that globally, an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2017.   That same year, 940 000 people died of HIV-related illnesses worldwide. Globally, there were still more than 1.4 million pregnant women with HIV in 2017, of which an estimated 80%  received antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission. What about the remaining 20%? That is a lot of women and babies.

But the LifeBall is also a celebration of unity in diversity, attended by people of all sexual orientations.  It is a fun party, and so, although I could not go to the ball itself, my husband and I grabbed our cameras and went to document the pre-ball activities in the streets of Vienna.

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The rainbow as a symbol for unity in diversity

 

This year´s ball costume theme was “circus”. Prepare for some colorful candid portraits. I hope you enjoy looking at some of the brilliant  people in my photos.

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Birds of paradise

 

If you have a browser that can view this, have a look at the photo slideshow here for some more pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It really would be in Vienna´s economic interest to continue the ball as well.  According to the Life+ website, the ball generated gross value added of €106 million for Vienna  in the last 10 years alone, whereas the City of Vienna supported it financially with around €800,000.

Queer Art Space

Until Friday the art gallery Kunsthalle Exnergasse at the @wukvienna has a show of contemporary queer art at Queer Art Space Vienna  (28 May to 14 June 2019).

As some of you know, I am a fan of one Vienna art educator who occasionally appears in drag as @kuemmernis, and so I jumped at the opportunity to get to know this lesser known art venue last week on Friday.   The Kümmernis led a “Shady Tour” where she and @_rhinoplastyclub poked fun at the art work. Supported by @house_of_butter, @gellertgersonbutter and @gayparship. I have to admit I had never heard of a shady tour before, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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Queer Art Space presents works by Aschka & Kopp, Asgar / Gabriel, Assunta AAM, Julia Faber, Julia Fuchs, Robert Gabris, Matthias Herrmann, Mario Kiesenhofer, Jakob Lena Knebl, Andrew Mezvinsky, Martina Mina & Sabine Schwaighofer, Roland Reiter, Michal Rutz , Leila Samari & Maryam Sehhat, Toni Schmale, Walter Seidl / Stefan Geissler, Philip Timischl, VIOLET, and Peter Wehinge.

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A gallery room with courtyard views
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Visitor reflections
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Visitor reflections 2

This coming weekend, there will be the Rainbow Parade (a.k.a. EuroPride Parade) – I will be out of town, but I look forward to seeing the pictures of my fellow photography buffs.

Sources: Websites of Life+, EuroPride2019, Wikipedia, WUK


More Information

About EuroPride2019 (official website)

EuroPride Village at the Rathausplatz

Euro Pride Run Vienna 2019 – 14 June 2019

EuroPride Parade – Wiener Regenbogenparade (15.6.2019)

 


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