Demonstrators across Europe were exploding with pride last weekend.
In capital cities across the continent, marchers took to the streets in their thousands to celebrate Gay Pride 2019. Last weekend was significant in the LGBT+ calendar as it marked 50 years since the famous Stonewall riots in New York.
On June 28th, 1969, a series of violent confrontations began between the LGBT+ community and police in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. Beginning outside a gay bar in Stonewall Inn, the clashes became commonly known as the Stonewall Riots. The uprisings are widely taken to be the spark which ignited the modern LGBT+ rights movement.
In recent years, however, June 28 has looked very different from its violent beginnings. With demonstrators clothed in vibrant rainbow colours and sprinkled with glitter, it was clear that the LGBT+ community today will no longer live on the margins of society.
North Macedonia, a typically conservative Balkan country, held its first Gay Pride Parade on Saturday. Hundreds of activists marched through Skopje and were joined by diplomats and state officials. The decision to hold the festival has been seen by many as an effort to show the European Union that North Macedonia is progressive and respects minorities.
In the Balkans, members of the LGBT+ community face continuous discrimination and hate crimes. When the Pride parade on Saturday marched passed an Orthodox church, they were met by right-wing counter-protesters in their hundreds.