The Amsterdam Gay Pride is not only unique because of the canal parade, but also because of its street parties. Where in the world is the entire city center celebrating all weekend and is the GLBT community showing the way?
One weekend a year we set the standard. Grandfathers with grandchildren in pink, and people with T-shirts reading “My best friend is gay” or “gay for a day” can be seen all over town. The fact that we can celebrate our individual freedom so openly and jointly with the rest of the city makes that much larger Prides, for instance New York, Madrid and São Paulo Pride, envy Amsterdam Pride.
We have been working with a committee that consists of entrepreneurs from the hotel and catering industry in various gayborhoods and the Homomonument Foundation to organize the parties. The Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation is the license holder for all street parties and responsible for safety, sanitation and communication, although every gayborhood has its own financial responsibility, and is also responsible for content.
For a number of locations we are responsible for both content and finance. I met Anita Beek twenty years ago, working for the AIDS Fund and responsible for funding, while she was team leader. She joined our foundation immediately after it was founded, and organizes the open air cinema and coordinates events in the city districts. Oebele Kooistra joined our team as a volunteer, and organizes the Senior Pride Concert – a special edition this year with a stage on an island of pontoons in the middle of the canal.
Peter van Vught was added to our regular team, as we are organizing additional events because of EuroPride. As co-organizer of the first two editions of the Milkshake festival he knows the tricks of the trade, and was asked to take responsibility for the programming of Pink Saturday and the concert on Dam Square.
We are still working on them, but the events are going to be varied and incredibly beautiful. The kick-off is on Saturday, July 23 with Pink Saturday in Vondelpark, with many activities for all age groups. The Open Air Theater was kind enough to permit use of their stage for a day, with a church service in the morning and performances during the day. I have already seen jazz band Gare du Nord and Dutch diva Anita Meijer on the list. We will all walk to Dam Square around 19:00, where we will continue until midnight. The next day, the Amsterdam New Orchestra will perform and accompany numerous national and international artists at the largest ever Gay Rights Concert.
With the theme JOIN OUR FREEDOM, we call on all European countries to join us and subscribe to our body of thought, and invite everyone to celebrate the fact that in Amsterdam, you can be who you want to be and love who you chose to love.
This year, we are hosting EuroPride in Amsterdam. A special European version of the Amsterdam Gay Pride that will span two weeks and starts on July 23 with Pink Saturday. Visit www.pride.amsterdam for more information or Like us on Facebook prideamsterdam.
Lucien Spee is managing director of the Foundation Amterdam Pride