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Heroes of our Time

by Lucien Spee in Columns & Opinions , 16 april 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

As Pride Amsterdam wants to be an open and attractive organization people are keen to join, I looked forward to the new and young faces in the hall during the kick-off of the twenty-third Canal Parade. At the same time I was gloomier than ever on stage.

Every year we are confronted with terrible stories from around the world, violations of human rights, violence against GLBTI people, declining acceptance in our own country, prejudice and inappropriate jokes. It almost seems as if things are getting worse instead of better. With the boats from, among others, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, this year we want to pay extra attention to these issues.

For example, the slogan of the Institute is “IEDEREEN IS ZICHZELF” (everyone is simply his or herself). It sounds perfectly logical and so it should be. Being yourself is a human right. But what good are rights if a society seems less and less acceptant of us, and even prominent comedians and TV programs ridicule us on prime time national television. Young boys who are fed these images and examples feel legitimated to go one step further and increasingly attack us on the street. Before you know it, you are assaulted with a brick in your face.

Fortunately, in the Netherlands, we can still trust the government as an ally, and we do have the police network Pink in Blue. How different is the situation in Turkey. This year, GroenLinks is the only political party to join our Pride, with our Pride colleagues from Istanbul on board. There, the Pride has been made impossible for two years in a row, and participants are being attacked by the police with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. By the way, the fact that the VVD is not participating has nothing to do with the PrEP debate. To allow more participants with good concepts to enter the parade, the ballot committee had a closer look at how to assess political concepts. That is the only reason why, apart from GroenLinks, all other political parties are side-lined.   

Pride, who will pay for it? In order to organize other substantive Pride activities in addition to the parade, we had to attract more private money. Last year we had a 27,000 euros budget deficit, and for 2018, the municipality also awarded 30,000 euros less in subsidy funds. That is why I’m very grateful to the growing number of employers who want and dare to support us openly.

And not just because of their financial contribution, but especially because, with their participation in the boat parade, they show the general public that they reject discrimination against GLBTs. The larger and better known the company, the clearer that message comes across. They contribute to setting the standard: that discriminating GLBTs is not OK.

The theme this year is Heroes. When it becomes increasingly difficult to be completely yourself on the street, thinking twice about kissing your partner on the street, I think that everyone who does kiss their partner on the street is a Hero. And we need a lot of heroes if we want to win the battle for complete acceptance. Be a hero of our time!

As in previous years, we have also appointed a number of ambassadors for 2018. These are Mieke Martelhoff, Jip van Leeuwen, Francis van Broekhuizen, Vanny Reyes, Loena Maas, Jennifer Hopelezz, Jackson, and Serdar Manavoglu. They are all individuals with a lot of dedication to the community or the propagation of this. They represent what we stand for, each with their own story. In my opinion, the theme could not have been better suited to these ambassadors, all real heroes of our time!

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




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

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