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The Parade (our history)

Parades to demonstrate gay pride may be a well-established fact of life in cities such as Paris and Berlin – but this is not the case in Sion. In this Catholic stronghold, which is also capital of the ruggedly mountainous Swiss canton of Valais, a group of six women and a man, led by Marianne Bruchez, dared to organise the first gay parade ever held in this small provincial town. The date: July 2001. It took real courage not to yield to the forces working against them: the community officials refused to issue the required permit for the parade, local protesters published a slanderous full-page article in the local newspaper associating “queers” with “devils” (“Aunts in Sion = diabolic temptation!”), and the gay community itself fell to wrangling, accusing the Valais organisers of being “too timid”. Marianne Bruchez, a young thirty-year-old woman with no previous experience as a gay activist, suddenly found herself making front-page news in Swiss newspapers, and being forced to accept high-profile media visibility of the worst sort.

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