Christopher Street Day (CSD) and ColognePride bring colourful parades, extravagant outfits and fever-pitch excitement to the streets – a huge, vibrant festival enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people but with a very serious message. Every year, when gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders descend on Cologne with their high spirits and good humour, they are demonstrating for homosexuals' rights and for acceptance, tolerance and equality.
It was back in 1972 that the first demonstrations for the rights of lesbians, gays and transgenders took place in this liberal-minded cathedral city in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Christopher Street Day parade has been organised by Kölner Lesben- und Schwulentag e.V. (KLuST) every year since 1991, partly in memory of the events in Christopher Street in New York in 1969, partly focusing on the future and the continuing improvement in the social and political status of sexual minorities. At first, Gay Pride and the street festival only attracted around 3,000 lesbians and gays to the historical old quarter, but in the last few years up to 1.2 million visitors have gathered in Cologne. Now ColognePride spans four main events: the weekend street festival around Alter Markt, Heumarkt and Rathausplatz, the Friday AIDS-Hilfe gala at Hotel Maritim, the Colour Cologne Party in the Lanxess Arena and the grand parade through the city centre featuring up to 120 floats and countless groups. This is a festival for everyone because sexual orientation has no relevance in matters of tolerance, humanity, joy and equal rights.
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