I don’t go to the supermarket if it’s busy and I don’t go outside if it’s too warm and I don’t reach out to people if they don’t text me first and I’m worried I’m drawing more and more lines around myself existing in a smaller and smaller box
Hey, guys, did I mention I’ve been living in Prague for a year? Oh, it came up? Well, did I also mention I’m leaving Prague on Saturday, returning to Sheffield cap in hand? Oh, I did? Well, anyway…
Fuck Paris. Screw Barcelona. Tell Rome to piss off. If you’re looking for romance on the continent, Prague is the place to be. Here’s my list of reasons why Prague is the most romantic place in Europe, if not the World.
pork is the most romantic meat
Just like flowers, all meat has a specific meaning. Lovers have used bouquets to communicate their desires for thousands of years, but did you know that certain recipes have the same function? In Ancient Rome, couples would sext using peonies and flank steak; in Tudor England, peasants, not having enough money to flirt through real meat, would carve carrots into animalistic shapes to accompany a proposal.
You might think your significant other is preparing you a steaming bowl of stroganoff just to nourish your body, but in reality it’s a coded message, spelled out in flesh. A charcuterie board is a novel; a butcher’s window a library.
As we all know, lamb means you think someone’s pretty; chicken is an invitation to dance; veal is too obscene to be described; venison indicates you’ve become enamoured with a local landowner; beef is a marriage proposal; and pork means love everlasting.
Prague, famously, has more pork per capita than any other European city. Grab a loved one, get on a flight, and tell them how you feel in the graceful medium of grease.
plenty of places for sunrise walks
Sunrise and sunset are indisputably the most romantic times of day, because of how fit everyone looks in that lighting. Sunrise is particularly special because of how disgusting mornings are – if you’re up, about, dressed and wearing shoes at that time of day, you must really be into someone. The best date I’ve ever been on ended with a wander around Letná at sunrise.
Prague’s a particularly good city for early morning jaunts because it’s so hilly. The sun might as well not rise in the Netherlands, since it’s so flat you can barely tell. In Prague, though, you have your pick of hills to admire the breaking of the day from: Petřín, Letná, Vítkov, Parukářka, the bit with the castle, Vyšehrad, and even the one to the right of the metronome – no, not Letná, further than that – oh, that’s still Letná? well, even Letná, then.
It is impossible not to feel at least a little bit in love watching the sunrise with someone. That’s why I refuse to stay out later than 3 a.m. with any of my platonic friends – I don’t want to risk them falling for me.
beer is gassy
Romance takes many forms. There’s first date romance, when you wear your best shirt and pretend to find your partner’s Brexit hot takes endearing. There’s budding relationship romance, where you tell each other all your secrets and wait until they’ve gone home to have a poo. And then, when you’re in a long term relationship, everything changes. You allow yourself to be exactly who you are, to let it all hang out. Your partner has seen your period pants. You’ve seen them popping their spots. You leave the door open when you go to the loo.
Beer is a shortcut to that point. I’ve always said Czechs are more evolved than us.
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
As everyone I’ve ever met – and lots of people I haven’t – already know, I am Full of Feelings. I have so many feelings that I am bloated. I have so many feelings that I am a Danger to Myself and Others. Sometimes I feel so many things at once that I end up with the impression that I feel nothing at all.
My feelings about Prague were very complex when I first moved here. Although a year and a bit of loitering has allowed me to fall in love with the place, I came here feeling like I’d been exiled. I moved here almost directly from St Petersburg, a city which has become a synonym for happiness and fulfilment in my mind. The months I spent in Petersburg were a perfect balance of calmness and excitement, and I was surrounded by people I loved in a superlative sense. If heaven exists, it looks like Kanal Griboyedova.
Anything following such a perfect experience was bound to feel like a heavy landing. My first few months in Prague were full of angst and disappointment, and I felt strangely angry towards the city for not being where I wanted to be. Any similarities between the places only served to aggravate my sense of loss, my feeling that I wasn’t where I should be.
Now, though, I think Prague is a wonderful place in its own right. I’ve learnt to avoid the tourist-choked alleys in Prague 1, to shun Urquell in favour of Falkon, and to jump deftly off the tram just as the ticket inspector gets on. Considering it’s quite a small city, and given so many resources are taken up catering to the influx of tourists, Prague can seem like it doesn’t have that much to offer its disaffected youth (incl. me). Once you break through the surface, though, there’s a lot of cool stuff to do. Here’s a short list of the exciting events I have attended. I hope it’ll help persuade you that Prague is a dope place and – should you need any further convincing – I am an interesting person with a lot going on in my life.
If you’re a fan of beautiful buildings, Prague has a few. The skyline in Old Town looks like it’s been peeled out of a book of fairytales, and I love Žižkov Tower so much I had it permanently etched onto my skin. One of my favourite functional monstrosities is Veletržní Palác, the trade hall turned art gallery in Holešovice. It will always hold a special place to me because the cafe on the ground floor is where I first learnt why baristas slam cups down after they’ve poured milk in.
It’s to get rid of bubbles.
During the summer months, when the thought of sitting in a dark room with strangers is unpalatable, the good people at V.P. host regular film screenings on the roof of the gallery. It’s a really cool experience, and has been a great way for me to lay my peepers on more classic Czech films. It works especially well for me, since I’m largely nocturnal and the films are played at night to circumvent the horrible bother that is the Sun.
Sadly, the films are largely projected without English subtitles, making this a somewhat inaccessible experience for people who haven’t wrapped their heads around Czech. My aural skills are almost as poor as my oral skills, but I’m too proud to admit that I don’t know what the fuck is going on most of the time. In life, as in Czech cinema.
soap factory rave
Raves, as well as the people who go to them, are inherently cool. That is what I tell myself every Monday as I root around in my sofa cushions looking for enough change to make rent, having spunked my paycheque and charitable donations on entry to a dark, sweaty room full of people I would hate if I spent the time getting to know them.
Even cooler than your classic rave, though, are raves held in weird places. Ex flour mills and retired battleships make for super places to listen to electronic music – this is a documented fact. My favourite club in Prague is located in an former soap factory in the industrial side of town. It’s got sick East Berlin vibes.
bar/bike shop haircut
If there’s one thing I love, it’s when businesses smash concepts together until they end up with a USP. My second favourite bar in Petersburg was a combination of a laundrette and a beer bar.
Prague isn’t without its own strange businesses: I get my haircut by nomadic professionals at a bar-cum-bike shop. Every time I go, I gaze into the mirror as the lady shaves my head and reflect on what a cool person I am.
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
Reader, the last few weeks have been hard. Every day has felt like a battle, and as I mentioned in my last incredibly mopey post, I’m sick of battling. This blog was originally intended as a comedy outlet – I was hoping that the reason I wasn’t making anyone laugh was because my audience was too narrow, not because my jokes are shit – but it has become a self-obsessed journalling process in which you, the reader, are well and truly dead and I, the author and subject matter, do absolutely anything I want with no oversight. I’m not bemoaning this: I find it cathartic.
It’s a shame that any readers clinging to life are forced to suffer through the thorny bits of my life experience, but that’s my brand these days. Long gone are the days when I’d genuinely try and think up posts that I thought would like people. These days I just wait until I feel my soul welling up with something and then tippity tap at my computer until I feel better. Strangely, I have many more readers now that I have decided to write about whatever I want than when I tried to make everything accessible or attractive. I think people like the honesty of how often I tell them that life is shit and I am shit and everything is shit.
There are a few people who reply with beautiful and supportive comments whenever my angst exceeds safe levels; and I love you all.
It’s not just my mind/soul that’s been fucking me over: my body seems to be in cahoots with that giant depression spider I mentioned. I’ve been going from frenetically energetic to beyond lethargic several times a day and my sleep schedule has been really fucked as a result. Imagine the malaise you get from oversleeping and missing your therapy session because you were up all night looking at the inside of your own eyelids.
This is not even close to the worst I’ve felt but I am trying to be more open and honest etc etc etc. Journalling my experience is also really helpful for my sense of perspective, since I write stuff down when I’m feeling great and when I’m feeling terrible. This blog must read as comfortably as whiplash as the posts fluctuate between Rosie Loving Life and Rosie Wishing Her Skin Would Fall Off.
I think that this is probably quite hard to read, especially if you’re someone who knows me personally and wants to help me (shout out my mum). It’s particularly frustrating because I feel like I am truly and genuinely doing the things I should be doing – therapy, medication, applying the stuff we talk about in therapy to real life, even fucking yoga – and yet this shit still keeps getting on top of me. I am too tired now and over the last couple of days I’ve just let the bleakness wash over me without much resistance.
It’s hard for the people who love me because all they can say is, “Keep on keeping on.” And that really is the only thing to do. But, oh my god, I’m so done. The pile of things that have upset me on a micro-level has combined with the bigger things and I feel like I’m being crushed into a Flat Stanley.
I know how self involved these blogs make me come off, but honestly, it’s a pretty accurate impression. At the moment I’m really struggling to engage with anyone else. This is definitely something I want to work on, because I love other people and I want to be there for them and to be able to be a Good Friend and a Nice Person. I wonder if I am using mental illness as an excuse for being selfish, but I don’t know if that’s a question I can think about right now or I might fall down a well and set on fire.
I need a little holiday from being me, from having to try to force a pleasant existence on an unwilling mind. I think if I take a little break I’ll be able to come back refreshed and with a new thirst for life and joy and all of that jazz. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as you might think to temporarily stop Being. I have compiled this short list of ideas to try out.
I can’t remember the science behind this film since I watched it when I was so little, but as I recall two people use ??? witchcraft to switch bodies. I infer from the title that this happened on a Friday, which is nice because it means that the protagonists had an entire weekend to run havoc in each other’s skin. This option strikes me as ideal, because I would be fully immersed in another person’s being and therefore have plenty of time to gain some much-needed perspective.
turn into a pillar of salt
But, like, just for three or four days.
Other inanimate objects would probably also work e.g. crumpled laundry, bathroom curtains etc.
live in the woods
Sure, this isn’t as good as the first two options, since I’d still be Rosie in this scenario and therefore still inclined to experience whatever is going through me right now, but I think that this jaunt would be so divorced from my regular day-to-day life that it would be as if I had disappeared. What I’m saying is that Ro having to forage for beans in the woods may as well be a stranger to Ro who grinds the beans and serves them in the form of a delicious coffee.
Haveabreakhaveakitkat love you bye xox
Just writing this has made me feel more human. I’m going to go for a little walk and throw some stones at pigeons. All the very best. Thanks for reading through this mind dump. It might seem like it’s not helping, but it is
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
“The secret to my success?” asks the lottery winner, fanning himself with wads of cash. “Just keep buying scratchcards. You can withdraw £200 a day. Put it all on the tickets. That’s how I got where I am today.” The tech billionaire tells you to drop out of secondary school and pour all of your attention into coding. The band selling out Wembley tells you to sack off your A-Levels and get high in your mate’s garage. Elon Musk sagely advises you be born the son of a Canadian model and dietitian and a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot and sailor. You nod and politely make notes.
I hate self-help books so much, especially ones that are centred around attaining wealth and fame. I find it disconcerting when people turn to famous millionaires for advice, since so often these people’s success seems based on a combination of luck and privilege. Like, it might have worked reasonably well for Pete Doherty, but generally turning down an offer to study at Oxford so you can pursue grungy aesthetics and heroin isn’t a wholesome five year plan. Bill Gates might have dropped out of Harvard to make his fortune, but that doesn’t mean you should, too. There’s a huge bias to these success stories in that we only ever hear about the dropouts who made trillions of dollars and founded anti-malaria charities. You only hear about the people who spend their entire wages on lottery tickets if they end up winning the jackpot.
As you know, reader, I am a wildly successful entrepreneur in my own right. I have one and a half articles published in a Prague-based zine, I have my own .com url, and I’m about to launch a line of upcycled tote bags. I have only suffered from crippling depression for two thirds of my adult life. My parents still pay for my therapy and my dentist appointments. I’m pretty much living the dream.
You wanna follow in my footsteps? Follow these universally applicable pieces of advice. If you follow these iron-clad rules to the letter, you could end up like me – a mediocre barista with an unfinished degree.
Fail To Gain A PLace At Oxbridge
Just like Bill Gates before me, I don’t have a degree. The university I don’t have a degree from is the University of Sheffield, a mid-table establishment that doesn’t pour enough funding into modern languages. However, I came rather close to not having a degree from Oxford University, a top-tier establishment that would’ve fulfilled my childhood dream to attend Hogwarts, in aesthetics if not in subject matter.
I interviewed at Oxford at the age of 18, as is traditional. Looking back on my final year at school, I’m not even slightly surprised that The Powers That Be (TPTB) took one look at my general self and politely requested that I get to fuck.
It’s hard to talk about getting rejected from Oxford without sounding bitter, but – reader, I swear – I’m genuinely at peace. If I’d got an offer from Oxford and matriculated there, my life would be immeasurably different. I would have studied Czech and English, rather than my current degree of RussianAndSlavonicStudiesWithCzechAndPolish. I would not have had the pleasure of feuding with a member of the Sheffield faculty, a bitter experience which probably foreshadowed my love of coffee, a uniquely bitter delicacy. If not for the bad feeling between myself and TPTB at Sheffield, I would not have made the ill-thought out decision to take a leave of absence. If not for my leave of absence, I would be a graduate now, applying for e.g. the civil service or marketing positions.
In short, my advice is that you genuinely try to get into a world-class university, fail and go to one with a great Czech syllabus but a terrifying Russian teaching staff, take a year out, and leave the country. This is the only way you can hope to end up like me, mostly unemployed and very unqualified. Hope this helps.
Never Quite Learn To Froth Milk
I can froth milk ish. On a good day, it’s beautiful. Creamy. Micro foam. Everything you could want from a drink. On a bad day, it’s overfrothed, lumpy and fuzzy, with big, big bubbles.
And yet, my failure to do this simple task right may be the secret to my success. After all, as I am sure you’re aware, dear reader, I love my job. I love serving coffee and I love the cafe I do it in. I can’t imagine anywhere with better vibes. I fear that my unabashed opportunism would propel me to a better regarded but less nice job if I were a better barista. Sometimes your limitations are a blessing.
Play With Every Dog
Have you ever heard of ‘networking’? Networking is a fancy way of saying making relationships with people so they feel guilty for not hiring you at their start up. If, like me, you find the idea of talking to humans disgusting, set your sights on our furry friends, the humble dog.
Getting an article published in print is by far my greatest achievement and I am unreservedly proud of it. I wish I could say I got this break in journalism through sheer, rudy talent and honest graft, but it was very much a ‘who you know’ situation. I was chatting to a local at the caf who happened to work for OKO!, strongarmed her into giving me her contact details, and then just happened to send her a message on the very day that their fiction piece fell through.
The reason I was chatting to this lady, though, was not just her magnetic and charismatic personality. If I’m honest, it was mostly because she has the two cutest dogs in the world. Chopper is the size of a small bear and has the most chill personality ever. Biscuit, as her name suggests, is a treat fiend. She sneaks behind the bar to play with me and I give her secret biscuits whilst Chopper and his owner are distracted by carrot cake.
So, yeah, here’s my advice for anyone looking to get their writing published: it’s all about relationships. It’s about who you know. And I happened to know Chopper and Biscuit.
By following this very simple advice, you can be like me! Best of luck, chin up.
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
It’s Saturday morning – or, at least, my body clock is telling me as such. In reality it’s gone five p.m. and I’m still in bed, consciousness newly thrust upon me, eyes squinting against the invasive light streaming through the gap in my curtains. I turn my body away from the light and bury my face deeper into blankets. I try to burrow away from the realities of the day – the need to feed myself, to put clothes on; the responsibility not to stay in bed all day. If I cover myself in enough pillows, I can hide from the piercing lights and noises. My phone dings cheerfully and the tone bounces around inside my head, seeming to slam against whatever brain cells survived the events of last night. I vocalise a nonverbal complaint. I am still wearing yesterday’s socks.
Reader, I am not in tiptop shape.
“I’m never drinking again,” I say.
“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever again,” I say.
The thought of alcohol makes me want to leave the country.
From now on, I text my friends, it will be just orange juice for me.
How did you get this number? they reply.
But still, life goes on. Your headache fades. You fancy a pint. I’ve got to the point now where I swear (sincerely and wholeheartedly) that I’ll never drink again at least monthly. How long does it last? Honestly, reader, not long.
And the alcoholcangettofuck mantra isn’t the only unrealistically hardline thing I repeat to myself. I’m also a big fan of i’mgoingvegan, iwillexerciseeveryday and nomorethrowingrocksatpigeons. Within a couple of days I’m sprawled out in an armchair, swirling a gintonic, trainers dustridden, fitting pebbles into my slingshot.
Well, no more! To err is human; and I must allow myself room to be a twat. From now on I will edit my resolutions. For instance:
Veganism is the only moral choice and from this moment forth I shall eat only plants and their seeds.
It might be nice to eat 20% less cheese.
Alcohol is the devil and ne’er a drop shall pass my lips.
It might be nice to limit myself to a couple of drinks a time.
My body is a temple and I shall not rest until I am able to save babies from burning buildings and crush walnuts with my thighs.
It might be nice to do a sit up or two.
Pigeons are worthwhile members of society and I will no longer pursue them with violence.
It might be nice to verbally rather than physically assault pigeons.
It might seem ironic that I’m making such a sweeping statement about never imposing sweeping statements on myself, but that’s life, really, isn’t it?
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
As everyone who’s read my Twitter bio or spent more than a minute and a half talking to me knows, I’m an interesting, cheerful and sociable person by nature. This, of course, goes without saying. You have already sensed it. It’s not even worth the calories I exerted tippy-tapping it out.
And yet, somehow, there are still people doubting the verity of this assertion. “Ro,” they say, “I doubt the verity of the assertion that you’re an interesting, cheerful and sociable person.”
I would very much like to provide you with photographic evidence – since I believe that Anon was correct when she said a picture is worth a thousand words – but even my extensive archives of selfies have failed to yield even a single picture that encompasses all three of my trademark characteristics. Observe:
In this picture, whilst cheerful and sociable, I appear so disinteresting that my friends have nodded off or tried to entertain themselves by having a staring contest with an innocent commuter.
Whilst clearly cheerful in this snap and as interesting as everyone who works in the service industry (very), I am far from sociable. “Who took this picture, then?” you ask. I ignore your question and pretend I can’t see you. You have to admit that this is not a sociable thing to do.
Interesting. Sociable. Mardy as fuck.
Since photography is out, here’s a lexical rundown of my character traits –
My job requires me to communicate with people (classically considered members of society);
I’m on all the social networks;
I’m constantly chitchatting, even when I’m on my own.
I can often be seen dancing in public spaces;
I know how to whistle, although I don’t always exercise this ability;
the timeless classic I’m Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves is my personal anthem.
People have described my fashion sense in these terms;
I have chosen to dedicate my life to the study of Czech (unusual);
I am living in a different country from the one I grew up in (atypical life experience).
Oh, yeah, by the way – did I mention that I live in Prague?*
*True as of the time of writing; however, my suitcase is already packed and by the time you, dear reader, lay eyes on this, I may be long gone.
The fact that I live somewhere I wasn’t born is by far the most interesting thing about me. I bring it up at every possible moment. I even bring it up with members of my own family, who know very well that I no longer live in their basement.
“How are things going with you, Rosie?” they ask.
“Oh, yeah. Pretty good. You know I live in Prague now and blablabla.”
“Yes, Rosie,” they reply. “We know you live in Prague. You have lived in Prague for a year. We all receive your weekly newsletter, Things I Do In Prague Now In I Live In Prague. We have read your thinkpiece about why baristas in laundry-themed Prague cafes should be paid more. We got your texts.”
Anyway, as I was saying, I live in Prague now. Prague’s a fantastic city that is mostly famous for its cheap pints, relaxed cannabis laws and trippy absinthe. And, sure, that’s all true*, but Prague is more than a whirl of hedonism. I’m in love with this place, and (as all of my exes/anyone who’s ever given me chocolate will refute) I don’t say those words easily.
*allegedly. I don’t have the language skills or the guts to oversee a drug deal.
As a pa pa for now to Prague, I’ve been compiling a catalogue of some of the city’s best elements. These will be my love letters for the city I’ve lived in for a year. This time, grab your reusable cutlery set made from sustainable bamboo: we’re talking food. The good, the bad. I plan to lay out a whole rundown of Prague’s eateries.
That said, it’s getting late. I’ll probably write about a couple and go sleep.
traditional czech food
Ah, Czech food. Truly a bastion of all that’s good in the world, if you accept that all that’s good is pork fat and dumplings. In my opinion, this is the case.
Have you ever looked at a pig and thought to yourself, Mate, that oinker has some tasty lookin’ knees? Shove a stick through it and roast it for a couple of hours, and you’ve got a Czech delicacy my friend.
Have you ever thought to yourself, Mate, I like bread, but I wish it was 20% more stodgy? By simply increasing the stodgedensity on your common-or-garden slice o’ bread, you’ve gone ahead and made yourself an authentic Czech dumpling.
Picture this: beef. Picture this: beef with gravy. Fine, right? Normal. Now – BAM – cranberries! POW – whipped cream! Weren’t expecting that, now, were you?? That, dear reader, is svíčkova, a creamy, sweet, salty, greasy slice of pure culture. It’s like you’re trying to save on washing up by playing your main course with your pudding.
“But, Rosie,” I hear you say, “you’re a vegetarian. Unlike your brutal and thoughtless peers, you don’t eat meat. What does Czech cuisine offer you?”
Two words, my beloved reader: fried cheese. I don’t know if you can conceive of the sheer power exuded by an A4 mozzarella stick, but that’s the veggie option at every traditional Czech pub, restaurant and miscellaneous eatery. I’ve gained an immeasurable amount of weight over the last year thanks to friend cheese alone.
When I’m not digging into a paving stone of deep-fried cheese, I can usually be found in my own flat, hunched over a bubbling cauldron of bean-based stew.
My cooking has gained notoriety in a very select circle – by which I mean literally just me, because I would never inflict that kind of suffering on another person.
Whilst they might not be “good” in the conventional sense, my forays into the culinary arts are certainly groundbreaking. Did you know that it’s misguided to make a savoury Thai flapjack? That’s something I learnt just last week.
traditional Hungarian food
Prague, as the capital of the Czech Republic, is famously not in Hungary. Despite this, some of the city’s most widely eaten dishes are actually Hungarian in origin. Take for example goulash, a paprika and pork based affair typically served in an edible bread bowl. Similarly not Czech is the epidemic of funnel cakes (swirly bread baked over coals and covered in cinnamon and sugar) in the centre of town.
Like, I know that wasn’t the funniest paragraph I’ve ever written, but hey. When you’re not laughing, you’re learning.
If you post this on facebook, your friends will think you're ironic
I went to Prague Pride on Saturday. It was a really surprising and fulfilling experience that I’m still processing, and – in classic Ro style – I’d like to hang all my thoughts out in the most public way possible. Reader, you know me by now: you know I value your attention whenever I’m pondering anything new. Settle in for another devastatingly frank, superficially woke analysis of an experience that means a lot to me and little to anyone else.
Prague 2019 was my first Pride – which is weird, when you consider how, frankly, flaming I am. I was in the city when the parade took place last year, but I didn’t attend – partly because I was working, but largely because I didn’t see the value in the parade.
I figured it was a flimsy excuse for straight people to wear rainbows and post pictures of drag queens on Insta. I saw it as a street party, an opportunity to be politicised or fetishised for someone else’s feed; and it seemed removed from my experience of being queer, which, until this year, was largely solitary. I didn’t think I’d fit into the community. I didn’t think there really was an authentic community to be accepted into.
Mate, I’ve changed my mind.
Being queer is a strange situation compared to being a member of different minorities. For one thing, the community is inherently sexualised. People hear you identify as something other than straight and immediately (naturally, I suppose) think about you having sex – and for that reason, I think LGBT groups are often considered somewhat sleazy. I remember trying to explain to a friend at uni why the value of gay bars wasn’t just being able to hook up with people more easily.
Public perception of gay men, in particular, seems to be that they’re motivated by an urge to get their dicks wet [or equivalent visceral image], without conceding the importance of having a space to spend time with people who share your experience of the world.
The queer community is strange for another reason – you have to seek it out. Whilst people of colour and people of minority religious groups are usually born and raised in their community, the same is rarely true of any LGBT person. Despite what people might think, there is no secret gay club we’re all inducted into as minors. You have to find your people. There is no gay card.
And despite having queer friends in Prague, in Sheffield and in Petersburg, I’ve never felt like part of the community in a larger sense. Honestly, I had no idea that there were so many LGBT people and open allies in Prague. Being at Pride made me realise how lonely it can feel to be unhetero. Feeling so represented made me realise how marginalised I’d felt. It feels incredible to be surrounded by the love, not only of your friends and people who know you, but of an entire community of strangers.
I don’t know if I’m making any sense – I’m still high from the joy of the whole day. (No, Mum, I’m not literally high). The moment this whole feeling of belonging crystallised, though, was when I was on the metro on the way to the beginning of the parade. I was on my own, wearing my gladrags (all black, flattering, on the sexy side, rainbow accessories), and I was looking around the carriage. I’ve taken the metro a million times in Prague, and it’s the same as in any capital city – people dressed in muted tones looking at their feet, ignoring how close they are to each other, reading articles about house prices on their phones.
The carriage today was half full of the same commuters, but the other half was us were – I don’t know how to express this in any other way – different. Wearing what we wanted to wear, holding hands with people we loved. It was astonishing. I couldn’t stop smiling. When I met up with my friends, I could hardly speak. I was so overwhelmed. “There are so many of us,” I said to no one in particular. “I thought we were the only ones.”
“Why can’t we do this every day?”
The entire parade, from start to finish, was so full of love. We danced with strangers, and hugged each other, shared drinks and food. There was an unbelievable atmosphere of acceptance and respect for each other and for the paths that had brought us here. At one point a girl I didn’t know hugged me and yelled, “We’re out; it’s OK!”
One of the biggest worries I had was that I was going to turn up to this thing and find ten LGBT people and a bunch of straight people taking pictures of my undeniably queer look. I was glad I was going in a group – at least we’ll be there together. Outside of my friendship group, as I say, I hadn’t had much exposure to the community as a whole. I had no idea how big it was. The articles I’ve read suggest that at least 25,000 people attended Pride, whether the parade or the after party. Mate – 25,000 people at least.
My friend Janez saw the joy in my face. He hugged me. “We’re a force. That’s why they’re scared of us.”
Hey, did you guys know that only Jesus can save us? This is something I recently learned.
Why do ultra-religious groups always overuse exclamation marks on their signs? You’d think the message God’s judgement is approaching would stand on its own as dramatic enough.
One of the articles said that members of the parade responded to these extremists with the words,
Bůh je žena
God’s a woman.
Every Pride parade faces opposition. Anti-LGBT extremists had the most traction in 2011, when Prague hosted its first parade. The then-president Václav Klaus bolstered homophobic and transphobic protesters by asserting that Czechs had the responsibility to fight against the LGBT agenda. Since then, though, protests have waned, and this year there were only a few incidents, and none of them, as far as I’ve read, were violent. An unknown opponent of the parade poured oil on the steps leading up to the end of the parade, but this was cleaned up before the march reached it, endangering no one.
One of the most talked-about acts of opposition happened on Thursday. A group of people I’ve heard described as nacistové, extremistové and hnusáci burnt a rainbow flag and shot fireworks at a gay club – luckily no one was hurt. These same Nazis/extremists/scumbags tried to disrupt the parade, but were quickly separated from the crowds by the police.
A group of angels dressed in white stood between the police and the parade, covering the scene with large white wings so we wouldn’t have to see them or be seen.
When I peeped through the gap, I saw around ten middle-aged men, holding a Confederate flag (yes, really) and flipping off the slivers of crowd they could see. They didn’t seem to see the irony in using a phallic hand gesture to protest queer lifestyles.
Sure, I think Pride is a party, but when you’re queer, being able to party in public is a form of protest.
I want to feel this open about my identity every day.