• Photo for Rainbow Parade in Vienna, Austria Draws Over 100,000
    Photo Credit: L.K. Regan

Rainbow Parade in Vienna, Austria Draws Over 100,000

By L.K. Regan

This past weekend was Vienna, Austria's annual Regenbogenparade, or Rainbow Parade, the first of several gay-related events we'll be bringing you from this historic city. Vienna, a gateway capital between western and eastern Europe, has a lot going on this summer. Next week, we'll cover the World AIDS Conference, a global conference presenting the latest research in HIV/AIDS; later in the month we'll also take you to the Life Ball, Europe's largest HIV/AIDS charity event, which is attended by celebrities from around the world. But before all that, let's start with this weekend's Gay Pride Vienna.

Pride month in Vienna is a huge event, and it kicks off with the Rainbow Parade (Regenbogenparade). After a worryingly wet spring and early summer, the sun and heat arrived in Vienna just in time for the parade, which was definitely a sweaty affair. Organizers estimate that 110,000 people flooded the Ring, a large street circling the city's historic central district, to be part of the steady stream of decorated buses, cars and marchers that drove, danced, strutted and sang their way around the city. The route began in the Stadtpark, and wound its way past the University, the Rathaus (City Hall), the Parliament and the historic opera—many of the most important cultural and political centers in Vienna.

This was the fourteenth annual Rainbow Parade, which is one of Europe's largest gay pride events, drawing visitors from across the continent, including from many less gay-friendly Eastern European nations. Given the multi-national feel of Vienna's Rainbow Parade, the theme of this year's event was "We are family!" The "family" marching in the parade included not only gay police, but politicians, celebrities, and representatives of business and industry. "I've been coming for 10 years," one reveler told us, "and I think it's the spirit of Vienna—anyone is welcome, and everyone comes."

Check out a few photos from the event—you may just want to make it a vacation destination for next year.

Among the estimated 110,000 people at the Rainbow Parade were representatives of the major political parties. Above, the Green Party's party bus comes rolling down the road, accompanied by a few hundred of the party's closest friends.

Also represented at the parade were the Austrian Gay Police—a procession of uniformed officers that included police not only from Austria but from several other European nations as well.

Austrian alcohol laws are much more, shall we say, permissive than American ones. Above, the Jagermeister van is both part of the parade—and selling the company's potent product as it moves along the route.

A fun and light atmosphere at the Rainbow Parade comes with some serious social messages; an HIV awareness bus has a sign reading, "To kiss an HIV-positive person is nice, and safe. Ostracism destroys one's life, even before the virus does so."

Next week we will check in with our HIV/AIDS expert Raphael Landovitz on the latest news from the World AIDS Conference, also taking place in Vienna.