MADRID, SPAIN Coming off the metro stop of Chueca, the street was paved with empty bottles of tinto, cans of beer and crumpled rainbow flags that lined the square like a makeshift red carpet. Although this may be somewhat normal after a Friday or Saturday night out in Chueca, this was a Wednesday and more importantly it was the start of the week long Gay Pride Festivities in Madrid.

July 2 to July 6 marks the Madrid Orgullo, or Madrid’s Gay Pride Festival. According to the main website, Madrid Orgullo is Europe’s largest statewide LGBT demonstration. The weeks events include outdoor concerts, parties, expositions, culture and sports— all celebrated in Chueca and downtown Madrid. Sat. July 5, will be the main event—the statewide parade. It will begin at Atocha at 6 pm and make its way through Paseo del Prado and finish at Plaza de Colón.

Wednesday’s events, which were kicked-off with a speaker at 9 am and continued by a day of festivity, were only the beginning of the celebrations of the week and the bottles of alcohol that accessorized the floor were just the start of the decorations of Chueca. Rainbow flags painted the air with poise and banners hung from apartment balconies. The crowd was just as colorful as the ambiance. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, heterosexuals, and trans genders filled the square with a life and energy that isn’t found in many places.

Although some of this energy comes from the open-air drinking and popularity of the Chueca neighborhood, Daniel Mercado, 21, student and a native from Madrid says that there is so much importance to an event like this beyond just the partying.

“A lot of people come here, to Madrid, to see this event,” Mercado said. “It’s a wonderful expression of freedom. Gays, lesbians, all kinds of people can be here and feel all right with this lifestyle. It’s a place that is a kind of home.”

Madrid Orgullo, or the Gay Pride Festival, wants to create just that feeling of home. Its mission is not only for the freedom and equal rights of those in the LGBT community but the ability for all people, no matter their sexuality, to live freely. Their statement is, “Orgullo, ejemplo de convivencia,” or “Pride, example of coexistence.”

This week, Chueca and all the areas participating in Orgullo Madrid’s events are true models of coexistence. All are welcome to join in the celebrations of freedom of expression, to co-exist, and to create a new home.

For more information about Madrid Orgullo or this weeks events visit:

Madrid Orgullo Gay

Those in attendance line up to have their picture taken with these three women.

Chueca square, Madrid

Chueca square

Women in Chueca, Madrid

Two women fix their hair before attendees line up to take pictures with them