A short history of The Belgian Pride
1978 - 79
In Belgium, the first “gay day” took place on March 18th 1978 in Ghent. It was organised by the group Rooie Vlinder, a left-wing feminist group that adopted an extremely activist approach.
The second time gays and lesbians made their voices heard in the street was the "International Day of Homosexuality", which took place on Saturday, May 5th 1979, in Antwerp. The evening ended with the “Janettennacht” in which the group Rooie Vlinder demonstrated that one could be proud to be homosexual. One year later, the group Rooie Vlinder, together with the Federatie Wergroepen Homofilie (FWH) and the Brussels association CCL, organised the “National Gay and Lesbian Day” in Brussels.
1981 - 1995
In 1981, the demonstration again took place in Antwerp. As the group Rooie Vlinder disolved and the FWH fell to its own internal dissensions, the “Pink Saturday” (Roze Zaterdag) was not consistently held every year during the 1980s. As lesbian women felt that the Pink Saturdays were too dominated by men, they organised the first “Day of the Lesbians” in 1983. Since 1986, it has been held in Ghent and later took the name “L-day”.
Inspired by the Dutch Pink Saturday, the FWH and the Roze Aktiefront (RAF) joined in one committee and relaunched Pink Saturday in Antwerp on May 5th 1990. After this, it took place every two years.
1996 - 2015
Starting in 1996, the event takes place in May of each year in Brussels. Seventy-seven organisations were involved in the organisation of this new series of events. In 1996, nearly 2,500 visitors attended the event, then known as the Belgian Lesbian and Gay Pride. In 2015, the Belgian Pride attracted nearly 100.000 visitors.
Choosing the right "Pride" name
The choice of this English name was done to find a common denominator, best adapted to the three linguistic communities of Belgium. Since different groups each with their own identity had come together and the old name no longer really covered the actual content, the organisation adopted its current name, The Belgian Pride, in 2010. With reference to the website address, the Brussels events and activities were named “pride.be”. Since 2017, the name “Belgian Pride” has been used.
2016 - Today
After the Brussels attacks of March 22nd 2016, there was some hesitation in organising the Belgian Pride on May 14th that same year, but the organisers did not want to give in to terrorism. Traditionally, the Pride Parade has started and ended on the Place de la Bourse but, as it was still being used as commemorate site for the attacks, the departure and arrival point was moved to the Mont des Arts.
In 2017, for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th and the Belgian Pride day on May 20th saw more involvement from the city. Six rainbow pedestrian crossings were painted, STIB buses carried the rainbow colours, several traffic lights presented either two "feminine" figures or two "masculine" figures, and various large companies, as well as the Brussels Central station, lit their facades in rainbow colours. As in 2016, the Mont des Arts was once again chosen as the departure and arrival points of the parade, but as it has narrower streets, it was no longer possible to use large vehicles. Nearly 90,000 people came to the Belgian capital to participate in the event.
Want to learn more about the history of LGBTI+ mouvements accross the world since the turn of the XXth century? Discover our "Recollecting Our History" project from 2019, where we go back in time through twelve major moments in history!