I won’t lie. When I received an email from my dear old grandmother last week asking, “How was I finding life as a student in Buenos Aires?” And, “What was I going to do this weekend?”, I couldn’t resist the temptation to inform her, in an unnecessarily nonchalant manner, that I was going to “do some work, maybe some shopping and then pop down to the Buenos Aires Gay Pride parade.” Admittedly at the time, this seemed an amusing way to spark various shades of vicious rumor, and allow for all manner of confusion to break lose as she frantically rang each member of the family with the outraged cry, “No one ever tells me anything!” In hindsight, this was perhaps a more dangerous game that might have taken a less amusing turn should I have received a distressed call from my mother saying that granny had had a heart attack whilst reading her emails. The actual response was a particularly infuriating, “Oh that’ll be nice dear”; evidently she’s always assumed I have been that way inclined, or she wasn’t wearing her glasses (suggestions as to the truth not welcome!). However, the event itself was a truly surreal and extraordinary experience.
In July of this year, Argentina became the first Latin-American country to legalize same-sex marriage and consequently, this year hosted a celebration bigger than any other in the march’s history. The afternoon began with a wander around the Plaza de Mayo. There was a buzz in the air of the like that I have never encountered before. Families, children, adults, straight, gay and everything in-between mixed together to talk, laugh and dance in a way that was quite amazing to behold. Regardless of sexuality the great sense of unity and pride of everybody taking part was undeniable. As the clock struck six in the evening, the march began to move and floats laden with people singing and dancing began to crawl up Avenida de Mayo. “Go Gays!” is probably the most polite translation available of the cry that was chanted with each float that went past. Groups of guys/girls (It wasn’t always immediately apparent which, and sometimes rather drastic measures had been taken to heighten the confusion) who had chosen, it seemed, to forget most of their clothes that day continued to sweep past us. Some seemed to have forgotten their clothes altogether… does a piece of string really count as clothing?
Unfortunately, I had to leave before the parade came to a close so I watched the scenes of hedonism and debauchery disappear into distance like a travelling funfair off to its next destination. Of course it will be another year before anything like this happens again but I would say that if you find yourself here in November of next year, it is certainly an experience worth having.
To save my family too much anxiety, I am going to the football next week in a last ditch attempt to win back some lad points. Until then.
Picture from www.freefoto.com