Stonewall: What pride looks like 50 years later

Amsterdam Gay Pride hosts the Canal Parade, an annual parade on boats throughout the canal. Getty Images.

We may never know who threw the first brick outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village in the wee hours of June 28, 1969.

Was it a young white man from the Midwest (as suggested in "Stonewall," a 2015 film that prompted boycott petitions launched by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network of school students and under accusations of "whitewashing" the real history) or the transgender women of color who've been increasingly recognized as the first to fight back that night?

Either way, the patrons of that private club, who clashed with police during a raid ostensibly for selling liquor without a permit, helped catalyze the modern movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual rights (LGBTQIA) in the United States and beyond.

Fifty years later, cities across the globe are gearing up for Pride events to celebrate civil rights victories won, push for greater equality and party down with friends.

"If the poison is shame, the antidote is pride," says Ed Salvato, paraphrasing activists who pioneered the modern gay rights movement.

These queer pioneers, as Salvato, chief content officer of Man About World, an app-based mobile gay travel magazine, explains, realized that despite not yet having political power, they could choose to be themselves, proudly, without bending to society's expectations.

This objective gave birth to Pride with a capital P.

In the five decades since, a new emphasis on inclusivity has changed the public face of the LGBTQIA movement, highlighting the diversity of communities who, through a mélange of parties and politics, have been fighting for equal rights all along.

Here's a rundown of some of this year's best destinations to get your Pride on worldwide.

New York City: June 1-30

Always a major Pride destination, the Big Apple will become an even bigger global draw this year as the site of the first US-based WorldPride with 50+ events over a span of 30 days, from June 1 to June 30, 2019, dubbed Stonewall50.

Organizers expect more than 3 million people will attend the scores of lectures, rallies and parties, both free and ticketed. Following the kick-off Garden Party on June 24 to benefit the LGBT Community Center, a Human Rights Conference will bring together activists, artists, educators, writers, political figures, and other top thinkers on June 24 and 25.

Other events include: Pride Island, a two-day music festival on Pier 97 in Hudson River Park with headliner Grace Jones; a "graphic art, anime, and manga-inspired costume party for all nerdy members of the LGBTQ+ community" called Cosplay & Pride; the Chelsea Challenge ice hockey tournament; Femme Fatale, the "official rooftop party for women"; and four days of Gay & Sober Pride events, including workshops, presentations, meetings, and activities.

To commemorate the Stonewall Uprising and the first "Gay Power" demonstration in NYC held in 1969 a month later that brought together 500 people, NYC Pride is hosting Rally, a civil rights demonstration to speak out against the human rights abuses of today, on Friday, June 28, 2019.

Culminating the month of festivities, the infamous Pride March kicks off on Sunday, June 30th at noon, featuring more than 550 marching contingents and over 100 floats.

Registration to join the march has already closed, but taking in the spectacle from the sidelines is open, and free—unless you'd prefer to pay $200 for the March Grandstand, which includes premium, stadium-style seating, VIP restrooms and refreshments. (Never underestimate the value of easy bathroom access in NYC—especially when the streets are as mobbed as they get during Pride!)

Amsterdam, Netherlands: July 27 -- August 4

The theme of Pride Amsterdam 2019, also commemorating the five nights of Stonewall riots that changed history, is "Remember the past. Create the future." The Netherlands's own watershed demonstration took place seven years later during a protest organized by the International Lesbian Alliance, which later evolved into an annual event called "Roze Zaterdag" (Pink Saturday) that takes place in different Dutch city each year.

While Pink Saturday started as a protest march, Pride Amsterdam began as a party celebrating freedom and diversity and promoting the city as a gay destination, says Pride Amsterdam's director Lucien Spee. Only later was the "emancipatory content" added to create today's more well-rounded festival.

Main events include the July 27 Pride Walk and Pride Park which, following the Walk, turns Vondelpark into an "Open Air Theater" with performances, sports, games, rainbow market selling pride merch and offering information from a variety of organizations, as well as activities for young people. Other Pride programming includes art, theater, film, debate and sports events as well as multiple street parties (find an impressive list of them here) that rage throughout the city on Friday and Saturday nights, creating a festive spirit that some have likened to a "mini Mardi Gras."

The grand finale Closing Party will be held from 2 -- 10pm on Sunday in Dam Square, a busy center filled with shops, restaurants and food stalls. The square is home to the grand 17th century Koninklijk Palace, former residence of the Dutch Royal family; Madame Tussauds's famous wax museum; and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), now used as an exhibit space for important art shows.

But before that denouement, the highlight of Pride Amsterdam is, of course, the world-famous Canal Parade, held this year from 12:30 -- 5pm on August 3, featuring parade floats that actually float. This year's parade will include 80 boats, says Spee, all supporting the main message of the event: "Be who you are. Love who you want."

Salvato says it's not easy to get onto an official float, but some insist the best way to join in the fun is to stake out a spot along the canals early, and come prepared with food, drink and a bunch of friends. You could easily spend four hours or more taking in the colorful, high-energy spectacle of costumes, synchronized dances and overall pageantry that draws an international crowd of more than half a million people of all ages, genders and sexualities.

Vienna, Austria: June 1-16

"We are more than our borders. We are more than the languages we speak and the colour of our skin. We are more than our gender and who we want to love."

This is the mission statement and message that EuroPride 2019, hosted in Vienna, Austria, intends to deliver. An easy train ride or plane flight from more conservative countries nearby, Vienna offers the perfect opportunity for people looking for a Pride experience to visit, or revisit, one of the richest, most beautiful cities in all of Europe. Organizers expect a million people to attend.

On June 1, the EuroPride Fest kicks off with Andersrum in Mariahilf, a famous street festival drawing about 5,000 people with colorful performances throughout the day near Mariahilferstraße, one of Vienna's largest shopping streets.

Then, on June 9, families can visit the oldest zoo in Europe, Tiergarten Schönbrunn for a full day of programming for children and teenagers or join the all-ages crowd for EuroPride Beach Day on the Danube Canal, featuring yoga, children's activities, brunch and a DJ-accompanied cocktail happy hour in the afternoon.

Throughout the fest, visitors can take advantage of Pride guided tours through the city's most prominent museums to gain a glimpse of Vienna's rich history, which includes numerous gay and lesbian emperors, warlords, princesses and composers.

Or take a gay city tour with stops at the Vienna Opera, the Imperial Palace, Providentia Fountain, Neuer Markt and the Park of Belvedere Palace—the summer residence of one of the most prominent gay people in Austrian history: Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663--1736).

Check here for more about what Vienna has to offer LGBT folks, including cafes, bars, and restaurants; the drag scene; gay saunas; shopping; as well as women-focused venues "created for and by women."

To honor the political origins of the movement on this 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the organizers of this year's EuroPride event have teamed up with the Vienna Anti-Discrimination Agency for Same Sex and Transgender Lifestyles (WASt) to the plan the EuroPride Conference 2019—the largest LGBTQIA conference in Austrian history—held from Wednesday to Friday, June 12 to 14.

Their goal is to create opportunities for an international exchange of ideas, highlighting key issues affecting LGBTQIA people in the areas of human rights, business and community through talks and practical workshops.

The culminating EuroPride event, on June 15, will be the Rainbow Parade along the Ringstrasse, known as one of the world's most beautiful boulevards, followed by a closing rally back at Pride Village in Rathausplatz (City Hall Square), where speeches and performers will take the stage before closing out the affair with a dance party. When choosing your lodging, stay near Wienzeile for gay nightlife or in historic Old Town if cultural landmarks are more your vibe.

Taipei, Taiwan: October 26-27

On the last weekend of October, 80,000 people are expected to converge on Kaidagelan Boulevard in Taipei, dubbed "the San Francisco of the East," to participate in the largest annual Pride event in Asia.

Many had hoped they could celebrate a major civil rights victory at this year's Pride. Alas, Taiwanese voters thwarted the referendum that would have turned the island into the first place in Asia to allow same-sex unions.

Still, the party must go on. The organizers say that Taipei's Pride has evolved, over the years, "from a political rally to a celebration of gay culture, making it fun for everyone."

In contrast with more regulated marches like in NYC, Taipei's Parade skips the barricades, allowing easy intermingling between marchers and spectators, many of whom also walk the two-hour loop that takes revelers through the city before circling back to the starting point.

There on Kaidagelan Boulevard, a "Pride Village" offers stalls highlighting gay nonprofits and other organizations as well as a main stage for performers and local celebrities.

"Everyone's dressed in rainbow. It's like this big LGBT rainbow cultural experience that the whole city is involved in—not just queer people," says Salvato. "So, you have kids wearing rainbow makeup and people with kooky hair dyed all different colors and grandmas walking in the parade. It's really kind of extraordinary."

The parties continue all weekend long with as circuit parties featuring legendary international DJs and "the hottest go-go boys" in Taiwan. One of the most popular parties is held on Saturday night at the FIVE-star W Hotel Taipei.

When booking your travel, consider staying in the Xinyi district, which has some of the city's best hotels. From there the Parade and Pride Village are a short taxi ride away, as are the gay bars and clubs of the Red District.

GayTaipei4U offers lots of details about the city's famous gay saunas—all seven of them—including the Aniki Club. Aniki features a 24-hour restaurant and private cabins in addition to three large pools (hot, cool, and jacuzzi), where the admission fee includes a 16-hour stay, with in and out privileges.

Prague, Czech Republic: August 5-11

The Czech Republic is known not only for its beautiful castles and medieval buildings but also, increasingly, as the most gay-friendly among nations in Central and Eastern Europe. Since its beginnings in 2011, when 25,000 attended, the Pride celebration in the republic's capital city of Prague has grown each year.

In 2018, 40 percent of attendees were Prague residents while 29 percent visited from elsewhere in the Czech Republic and a full 25 percent had arrived from other countries. This year the festival offers an entire week of more than 100 cultural and social events, public discussions and debates, sports events and spiritual encounters. Nearly 100,000 visitors are expected.

As in other cities, the festival's highlight is the parade. Prague's three-hour-long march departs from Wenceslas Square at 2pm, then winds through the city via Příkopy and Revoluční Streets and across the Vltava river to Letná Park where beer, cocktails, food stalls, and three DJ stages keep the party hopping.

If you visit for Pride, stay to see the rest of the city. One of Prague's most spectacular attractions is the Old Town Square (Staromestské námestí), established in the 12th century as the city's original marketplace where you can see the stunning 15th century Astronomical Clock, the baroque Church of St Nicholas, the rococo Kinský Palace and the gothic Stone Bell House.

Be sure to visit the sprawling Prague Castle in the morning hours before the throngs descend. And don't leave Prague without trying the pickled cheese!—a Camembert-style fromage marinated in oil and spices. Served with topinky, a dense brown bread that's deep-fried, nakládaný hermelín is a popular bar snack that goes well with another Czech specialty: beer.

When booking your lodging, consider staying in the old town, which will put you within walking distance of many of Prague's highlights—not to mention many of the city's gay clubs and bars.

Jessica DuLong via The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

The Gayly 4/1/2019 2:41 p.m. CST