U.S. Embassy PRIDE

Every year, here in Sweden we celebrate Stockholm PRIDE. This year on July 30th, about 40,000 people participated in the Stockholm Gay Pride parade itself, but over
half a million flocked to Stockholm from all over Sweden and the world to watch. It is created for those who feel they are part of, and respect the culture that has its roots in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer life style.

P2150827 - CopyIn 2013, the U.S. Embassy of Sweden under  Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, began walking with the Pride Parade. It was a privilege and an honor to see the U.S. Embassy representing and supporting their country and all life styles. This year 2016, marks the 4th year that the U.S. Embassy of Sweden has marched with “PRIDE”,  and for me, 2½ years marching with them, in support for the LGBTQ community.

P2150878Wondering where the “half” comes from? Well, I usually attend the parade as a Spectator. The second year the Embassy marched, I was spotted in the crowd a dear friend Bob, who is also the Deputy Chief of Missions. I waved, and then he called for me to come. I hesitated too long, so Bob came into the crowd and into the Parade.
It was a totally new feeling to be on the other side of the Parade. To all of the sudden become one of the representatives of a growing movement and no longer a spectator, felt frightening at first. One always wants to do a good job. At first, I wondered what I should do. Then I realized, I was already doing it! Showing awareness and support by being an active participant. I proudly walked the rest of the parade.

What made the moment even more prestigious this year was the participation of our new Madame Ambassador Azita Raji in the Parade. She arrived late Spring of 2016 and hit the ground running! This is the FIRST time for the Embassy that an Ambassador has participated. But wait!..there’s more! Ambassador Raji is our FIRST Female Ambassador to Sweden, nominated by President Obama.

P2150963While tens of thousands of spectators cheered and waved and took photos of her riding in a donated 1965 Corvette Stingray, she hopped out and began greeting and getting selfies with happy and excited on-lookers. Through dark clouds and even a few five minute downpours of cold rain, Ambassador Raji continued to engage with the crowd. It was a wonderful feeling for all involved.P2160003

Leif Pagrotsky (Social Dem. Politician) and U.S. Ambassador Raji

We started the Parade in Kungsholmstorg near Rådhuset. Hm, very apropos for PRIDE 😉
It ended on the other side of town at Östermalms IP.

Each year,  Pride Parade and events at Pride Park continue to encourage, raise awareness, and give representation and voice to those who feel they have not been heard.

The World is filled with Pride.

For more information on Stockholm Pride: Click this link.
For more Information on Amb. Azita Raji: Click this Link

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