RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Always looking for ways to contribute to the city they are temporarily calling home, the members of more than twenty consular offices in Rio de Janeiro took to the streets in late September to join thousands in Rio de Janeiro’s annual LGBTi+ parade in Copacabana Beach. For these foreigners, the parade was the best way to show the city that they support actions that respect diversity.
“We join not only Arco Iris (Rainbow Association) and the parade organization, but all the people who are here to demonstrate with joy and affection that a better world can only be built with everyone’s participation and without discrimination,” said Jean-Paul Guihaumé, French Consul General and the group’s spokesperson, before the event on September 22nd.
Speaking recently to The Rio Times, Guihaumé said that this was the first time a group of consulate representatives gathered together to support a cause in Brazil. “It was the first time something like this was done here in Brazil and I think that it was very positive,” said the French official.
According to Guihaumé the reaction of other parade participants during the event and on social media after the parade was overwhelmingly positive. “Most people were happy to see us,” he said.
According to the French Consul General, most of the consulates were contacted to be part of this event and more than twenty consulates were represented, including France, the UK, United States, Belgium, Switzerland, Mexico and Canada.
In addition to members of the consular corps, the group also counted on the support of European cultural institutes with offices in Rio, like Alliance Française (France), British Council (UK), Goethe Institut (Germany), Instituto Cervantes (Spain), Dansk Kultur Institut (Denmark), Istituto Italiano de Cultura (Italy).
The participation of the group was suggested by Canada’s Consul General Evelyne Coulombe, said Guihaumé, and the group had very little time to assemble something together.
“It was the first time we worked together in an event. Most of the consulates have their own social projects underway in the city,” said the French consul general.
The open-top double-decker bus, decorated with flags of participating countries joined the electric trios scattered along Copacabana beach, and despite the drizzle that fell throughout the day, organizers said that over 800,000 joined the parade.
This year’s LGBTi+ Pride Parade in Rio also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the LGBT movement in Brazil and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York.
According to the consul general the group’s slogan this year was ‘respect, equality and diversity’. With this initiative, the corps wanted to reinforce a universal message of tolerance and respect, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.
“We also want to show that these words are not ideas that we support only one or two days per year, but every day,” he said, noting that the group is also discussing other social actions throughout the year to promote tolerance with vulnerable sectors of society.
“We are now discussing working on other projects together, as a group,” added the French official.
As for next year, Guihaumé hopes that not only the group will increase in Rio, but similar groups can be assembled in other major cities, like São Paulo and Brasilia.
“We had very little time to plan for the event, less than a month, so we hope that next year, with a little bit more time, it will be bigger, and more consulates will be joining the group,” concluded Guihaumé.