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Pride Amsterdam 2017: Birth of New Traditions!

by Lucien Spee in Columns & Opinions , 05 september 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 4 minutes

On Saturday morning, the 29th of July, while setting up in the rain, I was caught by a deeply sad feeling. It had been a difficult year full of obstacles and challenges, and that morning, everything seemed to fall through. I was soaked, but thankfully at one point the clouds dispersed, and the sun reappeared.

With the evaporation of the water in and on my clothes, my bad mood disappeared and was replaced by pride. The park looked beautiful and ready to receive visitors.

Pride Amsterdam 2017 started with the birth of a new tradition; the opening of the festival with the Pride Walk from the Homomonument to the Vondelpark, followed by a full-day program. When I arrived at the Westermarkt in the pink tuk-tuk that we had brought from the south of the country for our ambassadors the Brothers Grimm, I could not believe my eyes. In our wildest dreams, we had not counted on such a massive turn-up and so much diversity.

Pride Walk
Extremely proud, I was walking halfway the Marnixstraat, when the last groups had just left the Homomonument. One and a half hours later, more than 7,000 participants arrived at the Vondelpark. Pride was officially opened for a day of sports and play, information stands at the Rainbow market, and outdoor theatre performances.

Everywhere I looked, I saw happy and proud faces and love everywhere. The youth program was a daunting success and was visited by hundreds of teenagers.

Pride @ Beach, by trainOn Monday, July 31, the following new tradition was born. At 13:45, hundreds of people gathered on platform 1 of Amsterdam Central Station for transportation to the first ever “Pride at the Beach” in Zandvoort. At Zandvoort station, the entire station square was full of people. Music floats were ready for the parade through the village, which was completely pink for three days in a row.

ZandvoortArrived at the Raadhuisplein, Beach Pride was opened by the acting mayor Gert-Jan Bluijs, and we were treated to performances by, among others, our Pride ambassador Shary-An with her band, and Anita Meyer. The three-day “Pride at the Beach” ended with spectacular fireworks, and according to the municipality of Zandvoort was a tremendous success.

Friday, August 4, a new “square party tradition” was born. A tradition that had met with much opposition, and, to be honest, I initially had not been enthusiastic about. We had had to say good-bye to our familiar stages at Rembrandtplein and the Amstel. This loss of venues was extremely painful. But the birth and success of the celebration on Dam Square made this pain go away. The bars on the Amstel also had a wonderful Pride and saw great revenues. And our final party has found a better “home” with the Dam Square location.

Willeke Albert @ Dam square

Last year, we had to disappoint people and send them elsewhere as Rembrandt Square needed to be closed due to overcrowding. This year, everyone could attend the performances of Willeke Alberti, the International Eurovision artists, and many others.

On Saturday, August 5, a new boat parade tradition was born. After twenty-one years of sailing from Westerdok to Oosterdok, we reversed the course, and started an hour earlier. The organization and agencies involved in the realization of the Canal Parade were very happy with this change. Unfortunately, it was the Iranian boat that proved that reversing the course has its advantages.

In the past, a faulty boat would have caused long gaps in the parade. We then had to create space on the quayside to discontinue that particular boat. In the current situation, the first kilometre of the route is so wide that other parade boats are not impacted and there are no delays. With the reversal, we are also able to close off the Prinsengracht from the Amstel after the last boat in the Parade. As a consequence, there is no “parade after the parade,” which has greatly reduced the pressure on the Prinsengracht and inconveniences for the residents of the Amstelveld.  

Something that has been a tradition for many years, are the so-called Pride riots in (social) media. This time it was claimed that over fifty percent of our participants had nothing to do with the world of GLBTs, and that the name change meant that we had lost sight of the true meaning of Pride. In a time with relatively little news, a lot of media do not seem to care anymore whether their claims are based on facts or assumption.

Throwing mud at the organisation is a popular activity in such a period. But fortunately, there were media taking the trouble to investigate what the actual situation was, and to what extent this negative sentiment lived in the community. It revealed what we already knew. The GLBTI community does indeed support the name change. This was my-your-her-his-our Pride!

   Lucien Spee is Managing Directeur of the Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation.
See for more information on this event.

Photo's: Jeroen Ploeger



published Sep 2017       


In the New Issue of Gay News, 335, July 2019

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