DOI link for Introduction
This chapter introduces the reader to the main aim of our book, which is to contribute to a better understanding of LGBT protest dynamics through a comparative study of Pride parades in seven European countries (Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK) and Mexico. One way to capture differences (and even similarities) in LGBT movements from an international comparative perspective, we argue, is to study a shared manifest expression of the movement – the Pride parade and its performances of LGBT collective identity, its organizers and, unique for our study, parade participants. We provide an overview of previous comparative research on LGBT movements and argue that our study complements this work by combining qualitative data with quantitative survey data on grassroots Pride participants. The chapter introduces the study’s performative approach, which focuses the core script for Pride parades’ “coming out” performances. The chapter emphasizes that the political messages performed in the parades vary, as do the carnivalesque performances; some performances are more accomodationist, other performances are more confrontational. The LGBT movement harbors a vast diversity of identities. The celebratory parade format has proved to be the form that could blend that diversity and temporarily smooth over the differences. Nonetheless, dissent is endemic for diversity and some of the underlying tensions are accounted for: controversies between lesbian women and gay men; normalization vs. radical confrontation; the single-issue/multi-issue divide; and, the tension between commercialization and politicization. The introduction concludes with an outline of the book.