Pink Saturday (Roze Zaterdag) returns to Amsterdam! This year about one month later than the traditional last Saturday in June, on July 23. The reason being that this annual gay event has become the start of fifteen days of EuroPride.
EuroPride was first organized in London, where it attracted 100,000 visitors, and is organized in a different European city each year. The host city usually has an established Gay Pride Parade, or the gay community is well integrated into the city. The initiative to take EuroPride to Amsterdam again, in spite of the financial meltdown suffered by the organization of the event in 1994, was taken by D66 with support from VVD, Groenlinks and PvdA. In October 2012, the motion was submitted and carried by all parties.
The organization of Amsterdam Gay Pride then flew to the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, to represent Amsterdam at the EPOA (European Pride Organizers Association). Its members unanimously chose to have EuroPride 2016 in Amsterdam. As soon as the initiative to bring EuroPride to Amsterdam was taken serious politically, D66 council member Gerolf Bouwmeester told newspaper Het Parool: “At the smaller Prides in other countries, the number of visitors sometimes tripled because of the ‘EuroPride’ label.
In Amsterdam this is unlikely to happen, but it might be the city attracts this time a somewhat different crowd that normally has stronger sympathies with the human rights struggle of the GLBT community.”
Whether these expectations come true remains to be seen, but it is the intention of the organizers. Lucien Spee, general director of the organization, means: “Amsterdam Gay Pride has always been a festival with a message, but in recent years, it has developed even more into a festival with a strong social and political message.” The organization therefore chose “Join our freedom, feel free to join us!” as the theme for EuroPride.
Mr Spee: “With this message, Amsterdam Gay Pride wants to call on other European countries in which people cannot be true to themselves or countries in which human rights are under pressure, to join our way of thinking and freedoms. It also calls on people to come to Amsterdam and celebrate freedom together, feeling free in a country where you can be yourself and are allowed to love whom you want to. It is essential to continue asking for attention for human rights in general and the acceptance and equality of GLBTIs in particular.”
Into the Streets!
The first gay demonstration in the Netherlands was organized in Amsterdam in 1977 and attracted 2,000 participants. The last Saturday in June was chosen as it was that last weekend in 1969 the Stonewall Inn riots in New York broke out after a police raid. Instead of obeying with the expected “limp wrists” the forcibly communicated police instructions, queers and dykes fought back and were quickly joined by others. This had not been the first time queers had resisted the police in the United States, but a year later, the Stonewall riots were commemorated in several American cities, demanding that more attention should be paid to the rights of gay people.
This initiative was followed by an increasing number of cities, not just in the USA, but also in other countries. The reason that the first gay demonstration in Amsterdam was held on June 25, 1977 was not just to commemorate the New York riots. The immediate cause was the homophobic agitation of the puritan-Christian former beauty queen Anita Bryant and her organization Save our Children who joined the political debate as being against legislation prohibiting discrimination of homosexuals. Bryant: “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”
And: “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters.” Despite these absurd arguments, - why wouldn’t prostitutes have rights? - Bryant’s campaign had much resonance in the United States, but the increased militancy of the gay community also led to unstoppable protests. Including the demonstration in Amsterdam.
Some people wonder why an American incident - as the Stonewall Uprising was not more than that - still need to be commemorated after all these years, as most countries have experienced their own memorable events in gay history. About six months prior to the Stonewall riots, the first gay demonstration in the Netherlands took place on January 21, 1969 on the Binnenhof in The Hague. It had been organized by the “Federatie Studenten Werkgroepen Homoseksualiteit” and attracted approximately 100 participants, mostly students, who demonstrated against article 248bis in the Dutch Penal Code, which described a discriminatory higher age limit of five years for gay sex. The article was abolished in 1971.
Yet, they chose, just like many other countries, an annual commemoration of the events in the USA, which undoubtedly also has to do with the much better weather forecasts for June in North America and Europe.
From Vondelpark to Dam Square
Many more visitors are expected at Pink Saturday his year than the number of people participating in 1977. The program is much more extensive. The kick-off on June, 23 is at 11:00
in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s most famous park with a long nocturnal history as an exciting cruising area for often anonymous gay sex. This Saturday however, everything will be in the open and the park will color pink! On the program are different kinds of activities, including sports, theater, art, and various performances
The main stage is the Open Air Theater
, where the traditional ecumenical service (on acceptance and sexual diversity) starts the day. The young talents of theater group BuitenSpelen will then reveal their skills in the production “Oude Tantes.” And of course, there are many artists and DJs scheduled, including “The Voice” Jennie Lena, jazz / funk band Gare Du Nord and the one-and-only “Pink Saturday Diva” Anita Meyer.
The annual “Rainbow market”
has its own location in the Vondelpark, with stands of the various businesses and organizations from the gay community. The program in Vondelpark will end at 21:00.
The Pride Walk starts at Vondelpark at 19:00
, for a clear message against homophobia and in support of the fight for tolerance and respect. Everyone is entitled to be true to themselves, and the organization calls on each and every one to join the Pride Walk to show solidarity. The Pride Walk starts at Vondelpark and goes straight through the center of Amsterdam to finish at the Dam square
. At Dam Square, a party will have commenced at 18:00 to end the day in high spirits. The party to celebrate freedom, tolerance, acceptance and love will end at midnight.
is also the location where a spectacular Human Rights Concert
will happen on Sunday, July 24. The famous square will be fully dedicated to the support of worldwide equal rights. It will become clear what we have achieved and can celebrate, and which countries we still need to support when it comes to freedom in love. The concert showcases a number of performers, accompanied by the New Amsterdam Orchestra. This year, the Human Rights Concert is co-produced by presenter and program maker Sipke Jan Bousema, one of the ambassadors of EuroPride 2016.
Bousema: “To me, Pride is a celebration of freedom. Here in Amsterdam, I feel free to be who I am, and I want to share that feeling. In my documentary ‘Strijders voor de Liefde’ I have seen what it is like to live as a homosexual in countries such as Uganda or Croatia.” At the Dam Square concert, “we will show how we reached our freedom. Join us in our freedom!,” suggests Bousema.
These big manifestations on July 23 and 24 are the start of fifteen days of over three hundred different Pride activities. Please visit www.pride.amsterdam
for more information or consult the complete program included in the 124 page magazine “JOIN,” especially published on the occasion of EuroPride, or visit pride.gayamsterdam.com