The road to EuroPride
Valletta, Malta


It was once a conservative, Catholic country. Now, it’s hosting EuroPride Valletta 2023, the queerest week of celebrations on the continent. So, what’s made Malta the ILGA Rainbow Index’s most LGBTQI-friendly nation in Europe since 2015? OutThere investigates.

When it comes to European countries, I will admit that Malta did not at first come to my mind as one that is particularly LGBTQI+ positive.

It’s a passionately Catholic country and populace, with a religious history spanning back nearly five centuries. In 1530, it was ‘gifted’ by the King of Spain and ruler of Sicily to the Order of St John, so that it could establish a base in the Mediterranean Sea. The gift proved worthwhile when in 1565, the knights defended the islands from invading Muslim Ottomans. As a result, funding and adoration poured in from the order’s supporters all over Europe, creating a more permanent, feudal, God-fearing knightdom, one whose cultural identity was forged in defence – and celebration – of Christianity. Five hundred years of Mediterranean machismo compounded that, along with a strong sense of Bible-driven, traditional family values.

When I ask myself where the LGBTQI+ havens in Europe are, the Netherlands springs immediately to mind as world famous for its progressive values. The Swiss take a pioneering stance on equal marriage, and Scandinavia has a long and positive history of forward-looking human rights and social democracy. Then, there are the more multicultural nations, where diversity is in the very fabric of how its people are made up, countries with capitals such as London and Paris. And, even if you focus solely on the Mediterranean, there are LGBTQ+ meccas across Spain, together with Tel Aviv and Italy and Greece, who are often said to have invented the modern notion of queerness long before the knights even set foot on Maltese soil.

But since 2015, Malta has come through year after year as Europe’s most LGBTQI+ positive nation. It’s a status conferred on it by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), a campaigning organisation that’s the global authority on LGBTQI+ rights, in its annual Rainbow Index. The ranking is a barometer of a European country’s position on human rights for its LGBTQI+ citizens, based on a series of criteria from legislation and protections, to society and way of life. While other countries climb and fall in each review, Malta has remained steadfastly at the top.

This story first appeared in The Mighty Malta Issue, available in print and digital.

This story first appeared in The Mighty Malta Issue, available in print and digital.

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Yet, it was only a year prior to its first ranking as number one that Malta introduced anti-discrimination laws in the Maltese Constitution. It was, undoubtedly, the high point for human rights in the country, spurred on by the hard work of activists on the ground, in a changing landscape of pan-European Union LGBTQI+ progress. With Malta’s neighbours bolstering their protections for LGBTQI+ citizens – in the workplace, society, marriage and parenting – it followed suit, too. Some would even say it unexpectedly led the way in several aspects, particularly in terms of legislation.

It takes many by surprise that Valletta is not the most cosmopolitan of capitals – at least it did me, as someone who comes from London, arguably Europe’s most diverse city. Travel just a few minutes outside town, and rural lifestyles prevail – and with them, traditional mindsets. Plus, Malta is still undeniably deeply Catholic – churches and religious effigies are everywhere you look. And even when you aren’t looking, someone will let off an ear-ringing petard to ensure everyone knows that it’s their patron saint’s feast day.

This surely casts a dark, theocratic shadow over LGBTQI+ rights, passed down from the most LGBTQ+ unfriendly city in Europe, the Vatican, where today’s relatively more forward-thinking Pope continues to leave the Church’s position on LGBTQI+ people unchanged. Divorce was only made possible in Malta in 2011; abortion and surrogacy are still prohibited.

So, what is it about the country that spurs selective progressiveness in favour of the LGBTQI+ community? Theories vary, dependent on who you ask. But there is an overwhelming agreement that progress is progress, no matter why or how it got there.

Some will say that it is politically motivated. In just one year between 2013 and 2014, Maltese leaders made a complete U-turn in support of LGBTQ+ rights. This alleged ‘pink-washing’ curries favour among future-forward voters, not to mention more earnest political aid from other progressive nations and governments. But, most crucially, it also helps draw attention away from any bad press, corruption scandals or more serious political misgivings.

Of course, that theory is driven by the opponents of those in power at the time. The more popular postulation I’ve heard from the community in Malta is that the notion of ‘diversity’ and the valuing of difference is actually something ingrained in the social fabric and history of the country, and that it is this that has been the catalyst for the LGBTQI+ agenda.

The Maltese islands have been attacked by many different aggressors, colonised and occupied more times than anywhere else in the world. Being at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, they have also long attracted settlers and visitors with different cultures, languages and perspectives. Christian history may paint a very white picture of Maltese civilisation, but there’s evidence going far back into the country’s ancient, pre-Egyptian-pyramid-time history that suggests otherwise. And even during the rule of the Order of St John, Malta was a melting pot of races and cultures. The history books even say that same-sex relationships were a common practice in Valletta and its neighbouring cities at the time. Records show that these acts were primarily the pursuits of Malta’s enemies – the Italians and the Muslims – convenient ‘truths’, but the Christians were certainly at it, too, something that the Church obviously wanted to stomp out.

For example, the Knights of Malta were asked to change a long-standing initiation ritual of the order, in which they kissed each other at the base of the spine and other parts of the body ‘in brotherhood’. Some said that the knights would even take part in Spartan-like practices, forming emotional love bonds with their brethren so that they would fight valiantly in battle to keep them alive. There were also wide-scale accounts of pederasty.

“Valletta had a similar reputation to Renaissance Florence as a haven for the arts, creative experimentalism and, with that, queerness”

It is also highly probable that in a huge community of Christian holy men, there would be those who sublimated their sexuality for the Church, only to find themselves surrounded by temptation. There is also plenty of queer history from that time – Mulan-esque stories of biological women who masqueraded as knights, their cross-gender role and choice of attire sanctioned by the Grand Masters themselves. There were accounts, too, of genderqueer pagan priestesses, whose rituals were quickly condemned as witchcraft.

Some tales are a little more ambiguous. For instance, Malta venerates Paul the Apostle, who, according to local lore, was shipwrecked at what is now St Paul’s Bay and took shelter in a grotto in Rabat. Guides will position the story less as mythology and more as fact, but what they probably won’t tell you is that there are many scholars who suggest that St Paul was a celibate homosexual. In any case, he wrote some interesting biblical teachings and meditations about unconditional love and inclusivity, possibly an attempt to reconcile his faith with his ‘errant’ sexuality.

For those who didn’t conform to their more conservative lives back in their home countries, Malta was a place to escape to – a playground of sorts – away from the prying eyes of family and responsibility. After all, Valletta was a ‘city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’, as decreed by its ‘founder’ Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. Make of that what you will. And it was the tradition among Europe’s noble families to send their youngest sons to serve as knights in Malta – a practice that quickly changed when other family members, hearing of the country’s relative freedoms and good-time goings-on, started to volunteer as well.

Valletta had a similar reputation to Renaissance Florence as a haven for the arts, creative experimentalism and, with that, queerness.

In 1630, the French artist Lucas Garnier travelled to Malta to become a knight. He painted several religious works (his most noted now being in Żebbuġ parish church). According to art historians, many of these paintings are queerly charged, whereas his work in Nancy and subsequently Rome wasn’t. Perhaps, Malta inspired him to loosen up.

Caravaggio officially came to Malta after fleeing Italy. He had been in and out of trouble with the law there, trialled a dozen or so times for writing libellous or illicit poetry, disturbing the peace, and ‘physically assaulting’ other men. When more serious accusations came, including one for murder, he absconded to Malta. Unofficially, however, there is evidence to suggest that he was escaping a number of scandals and blackmails, having been caught out on numerous occasions in his incessant and increasingly conspicuous cavorting with men. It’s said that his passage to Valletta was secured with the help of a sympathetic Italian knight, who put it to the then Grand Master that Caravaggio would have significant cultural value for Malta (examples of his work now hang in St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta). Fleeing a murder trial can’t have been easily avoidable or forgiven, yet he was left alone. Perhaps his crime wasn’t really murder, but being gay. In any case, it’s beneficial to have ‘friends’ on the inside.

None of this, of course, has ever been factually documented. Malta has no official record of queer history because the Roman Catholics did everything they could to eradicate it. Then followed the British occupation and colonisation (after a little fast-forwarding through history, that is), which brought another nail in the coffin for the LGBTQI+ community, as Malta adopted the Penal Code of Great Britain and criminalised homosexuality.

In 1964, Malta became independent, but it took until 1973 before the government decriminalised male homosexuality and harmonised the age of consent, which in relative terms is quite early for Europe. Taking cues from its previous British rulers – who decriminalised it in 1967 – Malta pushed forward the envelope on gay rights legally at the time that Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye and Superstition by Stevie Wonder were hitting the global pop charts. Britain, on the other hand, didn’t move on equalising the age of consent until the 1990s.

“Malta wants to show how valuable it is for a society to be open, up for equality and non-discrimination”

Even though legal recognition of gay people was in place, taboo and stigma reigned. Coming out was still a mountain to climb, and those gay and lesbian people who were out found it very hard to get work. The Church continued to teach hateful dogma. People were coerced into conversion therapy, and the transgender community faced all the above, but aggravated by significant threats of violence. Life may have been bearable in Valletta, but outside the city and in Gozo, the notion of being queer was just unacceptable. To escape difficult lives, many queer Maltese people fled to the UK, Canada and the US – some even travelled as far as Australia.

So, believe it or not, it took 31 years before the first LGBTIQ Pride demonstration took place. In 2004, around 50 protestors marched in Valletta, organised by the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM). Most were straight allies and some forward-thinking politicians who were hell-bent on greater equality for the country. This was the catalyst for anti-LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination laws to be approved in the same year.

After that, Pride kept its annual commitment to drive the messages of the LGBTIQ community across the country, yet participation numbers during the demonstrations barely exceeded 100 people. Notwithstanding, Malta slowly continued to improve the lives of its LGBTQI+ people. In 2010, a civil partnership bill made its way to parliament and was debated for years before it died away with the dissolution of the government. During those elections, Malta’s Labour party made it a campaign promise to fulfil civil partnerships and grant LGBTQI+ Maltese people the same rights as their straight counterparts. It was a promise that was to come true.

In 2014, Malta’s community organisation, Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC), formed a collaboration with MGRM to organise Malta Pride jointly. The less political and more social ARC had a greater following, which resulted in a record participation at Malta Pride 2015, soaring to over 3,000 people, mostly from the LGBTQI+ community. This significant development for Pride saw ARC taking a lead role in the future of the march and the new Malta Pride Week. Attendee numbers rose year on year, hitting 8,000 people in 2019 before the pandemic, accounting for around two per cent of the country’s population. And we all know what two per cent can do in electing or toppling regimes – particularly in tandem with the support of private companies, both domestic and international, as well as civil organisations and social enterprises, themselves with a large and credible following.

Central and local governments immediately celebrated alongside, as they made good on their campaign promises. The parliament unanimously approved a bill that amended the Maltese Constitution to add specific protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Malta was catapulted into the liberal limelight as the first European country to enact the latter. Civil partnerships followed swiftly in 2014. But there was one caveat – the definition of ‘marriage’ remained the union between a man and a woman. Church and state were still intrinsically linked.

But Malta kept pushing forward. Adoption and IVF treatment for lesbian couples became legal in 2015, as did renewed rights for intersex people. In another first in 2016, Malta criminalised any form of conversion therapy. And in 2017, in a somewhat surprising twist, the government began a debate to redefine and equalise marriage. Both sides vocalised their thoughts vociferously, but when it came to the vote, the bill passed almost unanimously – 66 to one – with laws also fully amended to carry gender-neutral terminology wholly, granting all citizens true and equal rights.

“EuroPride Valletta 2023 has been built as more than a celebration for the community. It is a safe space for queer youth and their friends, as well as the entire European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African LGBTQI+ community”

A cheer louder than any festa petard erupted in Valletta’s biggest, most prominent and symbolic gathering place, St George’s Square, where people had been waiting to hear the news. A massive projection of the rainbow flag was cast onto the Auberge de Castille, with the words ‘We made history’ emblazoned across the Baroque building. And while the nation celebrated, the activists continued their hard work behind the scenes, bridging gaps and opening minds socially, especially those for the transgender community. Inevitably, though, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Malta’s development in LGBTQ+ rights over history, but particularly in the past decade, has been meteoric. So, it comes as no surprise that it won the bid to host EuroPride 2023 in Valletta, staving off fierce competition from Belfast and Rotterdam.

Its win was based on a proposition of ‘Equality from the Heart’, using EuroPride Valletta 2023 as a vehicle to promote its achievement as a case study across Europe. Malta wants to show just how valuable it is for a society to be open, up for equality and non-discrimination. It wants to raise awareness for the issues and challenges that the LGBTQ+ community still faces across the continent. It wants to demonstrate to Europe and the entire world – through concrete proof – that true equality can be achieved in countries big and small. The choice of Valletta is poignant, not just because it is Malta’s capital city, but also because it is the smallest capital city in Europe, just over half a mile/1km long, 600m wide and home to 5,000 people.

The message goes further than legal equality, but to society. The organisers realise that many young LGBTQI+ people are still stigmatised by their families after coming out. Many also experience domestic violence or other retribution and need to leave home, without a place to go to that is safe and where they can be accepted. Many contemplate suicide or self-harm. Many LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Malta, as well as across Europe, are today facing repression and persecution not just from their own people, but from their host country too. Some of them are driven away by poverty and hunger, but they also flee because their lives are threatened by society and authorities at home.

As such, EuroPride Valletta 2023 has been built as more than a celebration for the community. It is a safe space for queer youth and their friends, as well as the entire European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African LGBTQI+ community. It exists as a safe port of call while providing them with a platform for addressing and discussing human rights. Many events and activities will be focused on the need to change people’s attitude towards the LGBTQI+ community and will explore various aspects of today’s issues, based on prejudice, bias and fear.

EuroPride 2023 runs from 7–17 September, culminating in the Pride march and concert on the 16th. The performance artists for the concerts are being kept a close secret, but you can expect names that are not only big internationally, but also European (read Eurovision) and local too.

The event will also feature a 10-day programme that includes a queer arts and culture festival (building on Valletta’s heritage as European Capital of Culture 2018), a powerful human-rights conference (in partnership with the Human Rights Directorate within the Ministry for Justice, Equality and Governance), a workplace symposium, an interfaith dialogue and a community village, alongside the entire city getting behind everything going on and hosting events, parties and social events.

“EuroPride in Malta is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a global community and to honour those who have fought so hard for us to be where we are”

It’s not all about ‘big-money’. There’s no doubt that funding is required to pull it off, but the organisers will balance corporate sponsorship against the needs of minority groups and small organisations. Pride can sometimes be divisive, with many queer people bemoaning the over-capitalisation of events. But ARC will encourage individuals and not-for-profit enterprises to put their ideas forward, even if they have no financial backing. They’ll then use their bigger sponsors to turn those ideas into reality.

This sort of support results in innovative and truly inclusive events, such as a trans and non-binary inclusive fashion show, a queer cabaret, community discussions about intersex matters, the politics of Pride and traditionally taboo subjects, such as sex work, kink and chemsex issues that affect the MSM community. Other concepts include sporting tournaments, events for trans men, the making and screening of LGBTQI+ films or documentaries, and literature-related workshops. There are also events to help queer Maltese people get back in touch with their erased queer history.

Beyond community enhancement, the organisers are also sensitive to other impacts. They intend to make this event one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable celebrations, with a big focus on waste, recycling and eco-practices.

My heart is warmed by how far Malta has come and continues to go. Such events are so important to me and the global LGBTQ+ community that I’m proud to be a part of. I’m lucky to live in a progressive country. But perhaps it’s because I’ve done my time in one that’s not, that means that I’m not blinkered to a world where people are still rejected, stigmatised or – worse – assaulted or prosecuted for loving who they love, or for simply being who they are. Remember, there are still 49 countries in the world – many of which we as OutThere travellers enjoy visiting – that punish people like us with imprisonment, and 11 that continue to use the death penalty against queer people.

Visibility is important to belonging – and Pride is just that. And it is crucial in Malta, where, despite legal protections, there are still some very conservative, Catholic-fuelled beliefs. There are many in Malta and even in my homeland, people I would consider friends, who believe that all the equality that I as a queer person have sought has been granted. Yes, in the eyes of the law, that may be the case. But, as we’ve seen elsewhere in Europe and across the globe, governments and mindsets can change overnight. Social advances can always be reversed. Equality does not mean belonging.

EuroPride in Malta is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a global community and to honour those who have fought so hard for us to be where we are. I feel inspired by the organisers who are standing up for those in countries where there is still a long way to go. LGBTQI+ rights are human rights, whatever your religion or beliefs. And it’s our responsibility to fight for those who continue to be marginalised.

Pride and EuroPride are protests: big, bright, celebratory, in-your-face and, ultimately, crucial protests. As in Malta, it started with a movement that has grown to become a celebration of queer visibility and freedom. And that’s why we must continue to celebrate the queer community, to stand shoulder to shoulder with our BIPOC, trans, non-binary fellow humans and those from other marginalised groups, to uphold their rights and protection.

Their rights are our rights too. And we must never take them for granted.

The organiser: Michael Owen

Originally from the UK, Michael works in hospitality in Malta and is a proud member of the leadership team at Allied Rainbow Community (ARC), building a sense of community, promoting further growth and creating opportunities to give back to society for LGBTQIA+ people on the Maltese islands. ARC is the official organiser of EuroPride Valletta 2023 and, on an ongoing basis, Malta Pride.

I am most excited that for EuroPride 2023 we are going above and beyond our regular Pride schedule to include as many different aspects of queer life as possible, with 10 jam-packed days of fantastic events. I’m also thrilled that we are collaborating with the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as the local community to provide Pride-themed experiences and parties.

In Malta, we want to be different from other European Pride events, even in a normal year. We are very lucky to have so much sun, sea and history, so not only will attendees revel in our festival of equality, they will also be immersed in Malta’s unique way of life. It’s going to be a brilliant celebration.

It’s important to us that EuroPride carries a serious message too. We will also showcase issues that our neighbours in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East continue to face. We understand the hardships that are experienced on a daily basis, so throughout the festival, we want to highlight that to attendees. I’m lucky to come from and live in an accepting place. I think many of us that do sometimes take for granted the laws and regulations that allow us simply to be ourselves. We often forget that there are many others fighting a harder fight.

But we must also reflect on the local situation. At times, there can still be a lot of stigma here, be it on the main island or in Gozo. We also see a lot of influence from the Church, which can make it more difficult for some members of our community to be out and open. While the majority of our events will be taking place within Valletta, there will be a number of other activities on the other islands. For example, we are collaborating with the LGBTI+ Gozo organisation to host their second Gozo Pride event during our EuroPride calendar. Visibility is crucial and our fight is far from over, despite what the law or ILGA may say. EuroPride gives us the chance to be louder and prouder.

I am so proud of what Malta has become. Being a foreign national living in Malta, I can honestly say that I am humbled by the community here. It is a country like no other, with a Pride like no other. Having organised Pride events back home in Doncaster since 2008, I knew I had to be involved in some way. Working with ARC has also been a way for me to meet others in the community and that has helped me feel like I belong here. I want everyone who attends EuroPride to feel that. I want them to feel welcome, included and, most of all, happy.

My involvement with ARC has already inspired me so much to fight for other people’s freedoms. Even if my work impacts just one person and allows that one person to feel more comfortable living their true life and being their true self, it makes the effort, resources, time and dedication totally worth it.

The ally: Lilla Salamon

Lilla Salamon, founder and publisher of Gay Guide Malta

Founder and publisher of Gay Guide Malta, the go-to online guide that delivers the most up-to-date information about all things LGBTQI+ on the island nation, Lilla is also a committee member at Allied Rainbow Community, as well as taking an active part in Malta Pride and sitting on the organising team for EuroPride 2023. Originally from Hungary, she understands the impact of oppression on LGBTQI+ communities.

Allyship is crucial to the progress of any marginalised community. That’s why, even if I cannot claim to be LGBTQI+ myself, I am still proud to be a member of the community and engage in fighting for the rights of LGBTQI+ Maltese citizens and others across the world.

Pride is so important. While laws and regulations are in place to support equality in Malta, the mindsets of the older – and generally more religious – population does not change at the same speed. As such, the community is often in flux. On paper, equality has been achieved, but a true sense of belonging isn’t quite there yet.

But we are fortunate to have a government that is fully behind our EuroPride. We saw the challenges in Serbia in 2022, when the event was nearly banned under pressure from far-right and anti-LGBTQI+ groups. It went ahead at the 11th hour, but all at once we felt what it is like to have our rights curtailed and what is at stake. So again, allyship – whether with the government or with individuals – will hopefully silence those who are against LGBTQI+ rights, or perhaps even open their minds to acceptance.

As an ally and LGBTQI+ business owner here in Malta, I am in a position to help end pink-washing in the community and implement long-lasting changes in the business sector. The pink euro can speak volumes and, through EuroPride, we are starting to see more and more companies, both local and multinational, discover the real power of the LGBTQI+ community. They are changing the way they do business, the way they treat their employees and the way they talk to other businesses and consumers.

As a small nation, we are quite good at learning from others. We take the best of what works and implement it in our own way. Likewise with EuroPride – we have spent a lot of time with other members of the European Pride Organisers Association and gathered their tips and feedback on how to make EuroPride 2023 a success. We have also looked internally and found ways to create a constant dialogue and provide education and information to Maltese businesses and organisations in the form of hospitality and sensitivity training. This will help minimise any kind of culture shock for the event and will have longer-term benefits as well.

I’m impressed by how inclusive an event this will be: from rainbow families to fetish lovers, artists to allies, no one will feel locked out.

I also love our ‘Equality from the Heart’ motto – it really captures the sentiment of what EuroPride in Malta is about, especially at a time when Prides are often hyper-commercialised. With that, I’m thrilled that the Maltese EuroPride is a call to arms for all Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern countries to achieve equality. In light of the issues churned up at the Qatar World Cup, we want to demonstrate to these countries that it is possible. Just a few years ago, the Maltese would never have thought we’d get to this stage. Look how far we’ve come.

As part of the organising committee, I can’t wait to see people enjoy the freedom of being themselves here in Malta. We can’t forget that many visitors will be from countries where they can’t express their true selves, so this will be their opportunity to live their truths.

The party promoter: Kris Micallef

Kris Micallef, photographer and party promoter in Malta

A Maltese photographer specialising in underwater portraits, male nudes and fashion, Kris will be showcasing his work at EuroPride 2023 (and some of his work is featured in this article). He is also a party promoter, whose monthly, gay party Lollipop (the leading queer event in Malta) has been going since 2016. It merges pop culture and fashion with different themes each month, from indoor clubs in winter, to pool parties in the summer. Kris also hosts stages at local music festivals, such as Earth Garden in June, and has a programme of fantastic events lined up for EuroPride.

Lollipop was born because Malta lacked queer spaces where people could express their individuality while having a great night out. Yes, things have improved massively for queer people here, but I’m not going to lie – life as an LGBTQI+ person on a small island can have its limits when it comes to job opportunities, places to be, entertainment, and queer people to befriend.

So, I wanted to create this platform, where I can work with lots of talented artists, creatives, DJs and venues, to offer up endless possibilities. That way, people can come and have fun, dress up, dance and let go, just like in any other capital city in Europe. I’m really thrilled to have created a space where people can just be themselves. Watching them revel in this sense of belonging really motivates me.

Malta’s queer scene is small but quickly growing. There are more and more events that cater to different people and interests. In the summer, in particular, Malta comes alive with lots of parties, and it attracts a wide spectrum of people from all over the world, which makes queer life here just that little more colourful. From the perspective of a party promoter, I can boast that we have the opportunity to organise lots of outdoor events between May and September. Beach parties, pool parties and parties in the park remain my favourites and make us stand out.

Needless to say, I am super excited about EuroPride. I never thought that little ol’ Malta would ever get a chance to host it. It’ll be a lot of hard work for events people like me, but I’m ready and we are going to put on a show. I’ve always ensured that we keep setting the bar higher each year, so I am planning three main events during the 10-day celebrations: a day party at an outdoor club, a nightclub dance party with amazing light shows and, to finish, a ‘Discotits Pool Party by Lollipop’ at a stunning lido. The events will showcase the work of some great creative talent, including dancers and performers. I’ll also be exhibiting some of my own photographic work at a show in Valletta, and we have our own float in the parade. No rest for the wicked! I know a lot of people are doing the same, so this year’s Pride is going to be unique.

All this means so much to me. I remember being at Pride marches of fewer than 100 people. EuroPride will help put Malta on the world map for LGBTQI+ visitors, as well as encourage locals to show their support and educate them about inclusivity. I’ve had several conversations with both queer and heterosexual people who don’t believe Pride is important. I continue to insist on its importance to keep the conversation going and to support our community, as well as those who are still afraid to come out or be themselves.

I think the scale of this year’s EuroPride will be inspiring. It will be emotional too, because it will reinforce to me and my LGBTQI+ siblings, as well as many people in places where LGBTQI+ folk are still at risk, that we’re not alone. We’re here, we’re queer… and stronger than ever before, because there are people in Malta, Europe and the world that have our backs. | | | | | @lollipopmalta

Photography by Kris Micallef, Lilla Salamon, Martin Perry and courtesy of Allied Rainbow Communities

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