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Pride Amsterdam 2018, A Tropical Edition

by Lucien Spee in Columns & Opinions , 02 september 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar


Never before had it been that warm and dry, this twenty-third edition of Pride Amsterdam. With temperatures above 25ºC and an average of 27.9ºC, we truly can speak of a Tropical Pride. The Friday before, the temperature had risen to 37ºC, but on Saturday, fortunately that was not the case. At night, there had been some rain, which made the temperature drop to a pleasant 25ºC.


Pride Walk & Park


On Saturday, busy with the building of tents, market stalls and play areas in the Vondelpark, it was not the rain that soaked my underpants but sweat running down my back. Happy with the results, Anita and I looked at each other and felt it was going to be a successful day. The park looked beautiful and ready to receive visitors.

At 12:00 o’clock it was very busy at the Homomonument where the Pride Walk had started. From all directions, more last-minute people were exiting trams, and coming in from side streets. Before the last group could depart, the leading group was already walking on the Rokin via the Raadhuisstraat and crossing Dam Square.

I felt extremely proud and since my husband and I got to know each other on Curaçao, we walked along with the brass band and the Curaçao Pride delegation. At the park, councillor Kukenheim awarded our ambassador Jip van Leeuwen with the Frans Banninck Cocq Penning, and we made two people happy with an original Pride Bike. People were enjoying the workshops, sports clinics and performances including a stirring show by Drag queen La Voix from London.

TransPride


On Sunday, TransPride was opened by our brand-new Mayor Femke Halsema. This year’s fifth edition saw a program that had never been more extensive, with extra activities and attention being paid for trans men, refugees, bicultural transgenders and sex workers. Despite the fact that we are already quite far with transgender legislation in the Netherlands, the acceptance process of transgender people is still in its infancy.

Something I find incomprehensible is the lack of acceptance within our very own GLBT community. Last year in the Netherlands, two transgender people were murdered in a horrendous manner in Enschede and Duivendrecht. Can you recall the community’s response? How different was the response when two gays crossed a bridge and lost a few teeth because of a blow to the face with concrete scissors?

Zandvoort Beach for Pride

Monday, we went to Amsterdam beach resort Zandvoort by train, where we were met and welcomed by the Mayor of Zandvoort. This year, I chose to walk next to the car. When the parade takes me to the village via the boulevard I notice that the second edition of Pride at the Beach has grown considerably and attracts considerably more people.

In the beach resort there were three stages this year, each with a different programming, so there was something for everyone. There even was a Queen of the Beach contest, and its winner was presented with the first prize by the Mayor at 11 p.m. The atmosphere was relaxed and, on my departure, the alderman emphasized that we are again very welcome next year.



Being Yourself in West


For this edition, we moved the open-air cinema to the Mercatorplein for several reasons. Not everyone was equally happy with our choice and some government services even tried to stop us from doing so. But with the support of the municipality and especially the district West, we succeeded. It was an unprecedented success. On Wednesday, the seating capacity (300) that was made available to us proved to be too little, and people went home to get beach chairs.

The atmosphere was great as well as positive, and the audience as diverse as our community. Expanding the capacity (400) for the next day still was not enough as even more people came to see the movie. As far as we are concerned, the Mercatorplein will remain part of the Pride in the coming years, and chairwoman of the district council, Fenna Ulichki, who attended both evenings, fully agrees. Extremely proud she spoke to the audience and had four words for the sceptics: “This is West too”.


This Is For Our Seniors

One of the reasons we moved with the open-air cinema was the success of the Senior Pride Concert, which made the old location too small. Relocating to the Nieuwmarkt was the only option for a comparable atmosphere, still in the vicinity of the Red Light District and the Zeedijk. From this year on, I officially belong to the target group, but have been secretly going to the concert for years to enjoy the Burlesque performances.

Oebele Congrats!

I did not only visit the concert for enjoyment, but also to give praise to someone who has been connected to the concert since 2006, to know Oebele Kooistra. In 2014, the event seemed to die a silent death. However, since 2015, Oebele has put his back into it with the help and support of AGP. It flourished again into something that a busy Nieuwmarkt was able to fully enjoy. Because of all those years of commitment, compassion and vision, I was chosen to hand out the Roze Amsterdammertje 2018 to him. His permanent production team of volunteers is also extremely proud of their producer - he really is their, but also our hero!


Beursplein Crash

Finally, it was Friday, August 3, and tensions rose. How would Amsterdam receive the fetish scene on the streets? During the preparations we ran into one obstacle after another, threatening its progress. But after good consultations with and commitment from the organizers, the event started at 19:00 and “Crash” was a reality.

Unsurprisingly, many people were not dressed in fetish clothing, but were still having a great time, including myself. The last time I got my chaps out of the talcum powder is twenty-five years ago. I don’t think I can still fit them, and I doubt if anyone is particularly keen on seeing me in them. On Saturday, the square was completely full and we enjoyed the shows. I sincerely hope that this party will also become a tradition within our pride program.


Take Me to Church


Before the closing party would erupt, there were two other events I had to visit on Sunday. The hangover brunch of our Pride Business Club in the W-Hotel, where we could quietly chat while enjoying a snack and drink and look forward to 2019. But first, my husband and I went to the traditional Pride service in the Keizersgracht Church. This year it was all about Female Heroes, with a wedding ceremony of two Russian heroines from Moscow who, as they cannot get married in the Russian Federation, decided to get married here.

The service made me emotional and sad at the same time. Happy for them that their dream came true and that they could marry in front of god, and sad because they had to go through with this without family and/or friends. It made me realize that despite some things not going well, and having to protect our rights, I am very grateful I was born in the Netherlands.

     Lucien Spee is general director of the Foundation Amsterdam Pride, for more info see www.pride.amsterdam.  Photo's Jeroen Ploeger

 



 







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