The Salzburg Pride through the ages
Conny Felice is the managing director of HOSI Salzburg and talks here about the planning status for Salzburg Pride 2023, the queer community’s dealings with Salzburg’s urban society and her personal preferences for the upcoming Prideweek. The Salzburg Pride through the ages
Conny, how would you describe the upcoming Salzburg Pride 2023 in a few words, what will be the message?
“Be visible Schatzi” will also be the motto of Salzburg Pride in 2023. It is about the visibility of the community in the city – but also about the partners from institutions in the city showing themselves with us. This will be the focus this year.
What will be the highlights of this year’s Prideweek Salzburg?
Prideweek will start the weekend before the parade (25.-27.08.). With a music event in a special Salzburg location (not quite finalised yet) and a brunch on Sunday (27.08.) with Gigi LaPajette at the arte Hotel. After last year’s experience, we have made the programme even more target group specific. The queer context of the individual events is to be further expanded.
Der bewegte Mann (The man in motion)
A highlight will certainly be the 90-minute show programme by Ralf König (“The Moving Man”) on Thursday evening (31.08.). Among other things, there will be a cooperation with the Museum der Moderne. There will be poetry slams, and the pub quiz in the Academy Bar is back after last year’s great success. We now have 50 applications for events, and it will probably be 30.
Against the background of several homophobic developments worldwide, especially in the USA, what political demands does this year’s Salzburg Pride formulate?
One of our strategic approaches in HOSI Salzburg is that we do not see ourselves as victims. We want to get out of the victim role and be able to talk to all players in Salzburg’s city society at eye level. Of course there are political demands such as banning conversion therapies or levelling up, i.e. aligning laws that also apply to queer people without discrimination. Only all these questions have to be answered in Austria at the federal level – i.e. in Vienna.
We here in Salzburg have strong support in the city. For me, Salzburg offers an incredibly high level of security for queer people despite the conservative image the city has. How can the city society communicate with the queer community in a very relaxed way – based entirely on everyday life? That is what we are striving for.
Where does the accusation come from that queer people always have to be roasted an extra sausage?
I think of it as a pendulum. For a long time queer people were massively persecuted and discriminated against, now the pressure is easing and the pendulum is swinging the other way. An extreme swing of the pendulum leads to a swing on the other side. Admittedly also in an exaggerated form. I have to contribute something to keep the pendulum swinging less.
Contribution to Salzburg Microcosmos
But for my concerns, I need comrades-in-arms from society. And I reach them when I give something. We organise a lot of events that enrich city life. And if I try to make my contribution to the urban community in Salzburg’s microcosm, I can reach the people and the institutions – more and more at eye level.
It is noticeable that in recent years more and more institutions from non-queer areas of Salzburg have been involved in Salzburg Prideweek. What role does the city’s art and culture play and how are local artists and cultural initiatives involved in the event? Is the concept?
Yes! Yes! Exactly what I meant: Be visible Schatzi, in both directions. We want to invite all institutions to do something together. For example, there will again be a theatre workshop with the Salzburg State Theatre. There is a cooperation with the Museum der Moderne. The Pridesession with AYMZ will start next week with the Rockhouse. In the past, such cooperations were unthinkable. Today we are preaching to the choir. There is a basic mood that is well-disposed towards us.
What distinguishes the Salzburg Pride from big events like the Prides in Vienna, Berlin or Cologne?
(laughs…) First and foremost, the number of participants. The Vienna Pride is 100 times bigger. On the other hand, we are very happy that the Salzburg Pride has become very popular in Austria. More and more people are also coming from Bavaria and Switzerland. Maybe because everything is still manageable here. And maybe because of the way all the participants from the community, the scene and city life deal with each other. Maybe that creates a good atmosphere that spreads. And everyone participates. Everyone contributes to the success of the whole. I think it’s good for people to be part of the success, part of the team.
How does HOSI Salzburg deal with critical voices and negative feedback?
We have a clear social media management and are always cautious about reactions first – first take two steps back and think about how we react. Reacting on social media usually increases the reach of inflammatory attacks.
Social media is toxic for dialogue
We seek contact in any case, not publicly. And we try to defuse conflicts. We also like to meet people with different views – but not via social media. Social media is toxic for dialogue
How can Salzburg Pride contribute to promoting an open and inclusive society and fighting discrimination?
Prideweek builds bridges between the community and Salzburg’s urban society. Where contact takes place, fear is gone. You can see that very well in the refugee issue. When personal contacts are made, insecurity disappears. We succeed in this for the queer community with the wide range of events during Prideweek.
What are you most looking forward to during Pride Week 2023?
I’m really looking forward to the kick-off event, which I can’t name yet, it’s going to be a cool start. And I’m really looking forward to cooking together. And the queer film evening. And of course the Pride Night. It’s definitely going to be big again. The last Pride Night was the best attended ever. Since the last Pride we have kept the second dance floor at the HOSI festivals and that is very well received.
Invoice from the university
And then there’s “s Schatzi räumt auf”, the clean-up event after the parade. Last year we cleaned up the Andräviertel. Afterwards we got a bill from the University of Salzburg for the rubbish disposal. There, in the pouring rain, parade participants had found refuge under the large covered area and happily continued celebrating. This is how we learn – every year. “s Schatzi cleans up at the university”.
What role does the new location of HOSI Salzburg play in the developing dynamics?
With the beginning of this year, we are almost only in reaction mode to what is happening. The new location makes the role of HOSI Salzburg in the city of Salzburg much more tangible, stronger. And people also want to talk to us. Sometimes we ask ourselves “What is happening right now?”. This interaction was still a vision a year ago. Now we have moved on. Be visible Schatzi.
Conny, thank you very much for the interview (The interview was conducted by Peter Goebel)
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