Sofia Pride is the biggest human rights event in Bulgaria and is organized by a non-formal organizing committee, consisting of representatives of the LGBT organizations – LGBT Youth Organization Deystvie and GLAS Foundation, as well as representatives of Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the non-formal group Queer Squad. Bilitis is part of Sofia Pride Organizing committee since 2009 and for the first time in 2018 the Sofia Pride team decided that the Committee should have a coordinator.The position was taken by Liliya Dragoeva, Executive Director of Bilitis and her responsibilities included coordinating the preparation of activities, coordination and seeking political support, fundraising, official presentation of the committee and media appearances.
Sofia Pride 2018 was the eleventh edition of the event and went under the headline “Different people, equal rights”. Pride’s tendency to get even bigger and more colourful continues and this year the participants were over 3500 people, making Pride 2018 the biggest so far! In addition to its scale, Sofia Pride 2018 impressed with a number of innovations, offered by the organizers to the participants and the audience.
During the preparation of Sofia Pride 2018, the Organizing Committee held very promising talks with the Mayor of Sofia – Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, who is for the first time committed in providing financial support for the events of Sofia Pride Arts and Sofia Pride Sports. Sofia Pride’s team is extremely proud of these successful first steps in building a fruitful and long-lasting relationship with Sofia Municipality and believes that Sofia City Government will play and increasing role in supporting and organizing Sofia Pride in the upcoming years.
In 2018 for the first time a major Bulgarian company supported Sofia Pride both publicly and financially! Walltopia is the world leader in climbing wall design and manufacturing with more than 1800 projects worldwide. In the week before June 9, Walltopia hang a 21-meter rainbow flag on the fasade wall of its building in Sofia Tech Park in solidarity with the LGBTI people and their fight for equal rights! “I realized they felt unaccepted and because of their difficult situation, they are trying to find happiness in their own way. That is why we decided to support Sofia Pride – people should not be afraid to be themselves, no matter what they are”, said Ivailo Penchev, Executive Director of Walltopia.
This year H&M, Europe’s largest sales network, joined the Global Pride Movement with a new collection called Love For All! 10% from the sales of the collection will be donated to the global campaign Free & Equal., organized by the UN Human Rights Committee to build a better world where sexual orientation and gender identity are not a reason for fear. H&M Bulgaria joined the local pride initiatives for the first time, supporting the event with a special showcase at the brand store on 6 Vitosha Blvd in Sofia.
Another innovation was the festival atmosphere offered for all guests on the Pride Day! From 4 pm until the beginning of the street March at 7 pm at the gathering point in front of the Monument of the Soviet Army, there was a variety of attractions to attend – information booths with materials and merchandise of the LGBTI organizations, make-up station, photo-booth, messages station, beverages, limited edition products of the businesses who support Pride and various other attractions. The companies and businesses attended Pride with their own stands were Harmonica, Roobar, Haniel Bio, Trastena, Power Pops, EY Careers, Black Flamingo Publishing, Kiflab gourmet cosmetics, Baba’s Soapery, CheckPoint Sofia I Център за сексуално здраве, Ailyak Beer, Single Step, POSH Kisses and Sweets. The festival atmosphere was highlighted by the participation of Ruth Koleva, Ivo Dimchev, Mihaela Fileva, Dancing Sofia, Yambadon, Spice Girls Tribute, Jennifer Benediction and Dead Man’s Hat Live who performed on the Pride stage.