Amsterdam, May 4, 2016. This year again, the Second World War (1940-1945) will be commemorated after two minutes silence at 20:00 on and around our Pride Monument, the Homomonument. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, men and women were transported to concentration camps. They were locked up because they were either Jewish, a gypsy or homosexual. The Nazis had created a marking system to make the prisoners identifiable.
Jews were forced to pin a golden star (Star of David) on the front of their clothes, constructed of two yellow triangles, gypsies a brown triangle, and homosexuals a pink triangle.
It is this triangle that the landscape artist Karin Daan (1944) revealed to us in September 1987 at the unveiling of the now well-known Homomonument - three large granite triangles that are connected to each other from the kink in the quay of the Keizersgracht, and represent the past, the present, and the future.
The Past is represented on the ground level with a line of poetry by Jacob Israël de Haan: “Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen” (Such an immense longing for friendship). The Present is in the shape of a staircase leading to the water - a refuge in the middle of the center of Amsterdam. The Future is the podium, a place to show yourself above the crowd.
In the speeches that are held on and about the Monument, also on May 4, these three moments in time are often mentioned. But what do we stand for in 2016? In the coming years, the National Committee will appeal to everyone to commit to the value of freedom. The Committee does so through the theme “Pass on Freedom.” This year, Tamar de Waal wrote the text for the theme, “Freedom Embraced.”
Master of ceremonies Menne Vellinga immediately thought of a speaker who takes the idea of Freedom Embraced literally. Teacher Lianda van der Schilden (25) was extremely touched by a Facebook message from Syrian refugee Omar Abdulghani (21). Omar published a cry for help. Being gay, his ideas about The Netherlands did not coincide with what actually happened to him in the refugee center in Zaandam. By now, his story and similar stories of other GLBT refugees have been picked up by the media, and support groups - such as the committee LGBT Asylum Support by Sandro Kortekaas from Groningen - were set up. But what can you do as an individual? Lianda van der Schilden showed us the way by offering Omar the use of her guest room. And how does the local government embrace freedom? Deputy Mayor Simone Kukenheim has been asked to shed light on Amsterdam’s role in her speech.
COC Netherlands and COC Amsterdam take turns each year. Peter de Ruijter, the current president of COC Amsterdam, will give a speech this year and will discuss the responses to the offer by the highly skilled information and education group of COC Amsterdam to organize meetings at refugee centers (AZCs) as well as the organization responsible for asylum seekers, the COA.
Ruud Douma asked the Committee “Herdenking Homomonument” to be allowed to perform his version of the touching and topical song “De bokken en de schapen” by text writer Jan Boerstoel as his alter ego Dolly Bellefleur. Dolly will also sing about the meaning of the three triangles of the Homomonument. She will be accompanied by her pianist Kees van Zantwijk and the Regiment Brass Band Grenadiers and Rifles Guards. The Regiment will also perform during the laying of wreaths.
Floral Greeting for GLBT Refugees
Guest speaker Lianda van der Schilden will bring a floral greeting to all GLBT refugees with her “little brother” Omar. The city of Amsterdam will be represented by Deputy Mayor Simone Kukenheim and will be one of the first to lay a wreath, followed by representatives of the COC and LGBT Asylum Support.
Prior to the ceremony, a silent walk will depart behind the Wester around 19:30 from the Prinsengracht (Westerkerk). The silent walk with wreath bearers will follow a short route past the Anne Frank House, Leliegracht, Herengracht, and will be returning via the Raadhuisstraat crossing the Niek Engelschman Bridge (founder C.O.C. 1946) to the Homomonument.
4 mei, vanaf ca. 19:15u
Remembrance at International Gay Monument in The Hague
The Homomonument in Amsterdam is just one of many locations where gay persecution by the Nazis is commemorated on May 4, as the traditional commemoration ceremony at the international Gay Monument in The Hague is. The annual commemoration ceremony in The Hague is organized by Foundation Homomonument International The Hague and COC Haaglanden, in cooperation with the choirs De Heksenketel and Vox Rosa.
Traditionally, the ceremony is attended by GLBT policemen and women in uniform (Pink in Blue), the fire brigade (Pink Red), and police academy students. The chairman of COC Haaglanden, Arnout van Kooij, will speak at the ceremony. There is opportunity to lay wreaths or flowers.
Location: Koningskade (opposite the building of the Royal Academy of Art), five minutes from train station The Hague Central Station and car park Malieveld. Afterwards, a gathering will take place at COC-Café, Scheveningseveer 7, Den Haag.