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The title of this column describes the high workload that we are experiencing at the office these weeks due to the introduction and sale of the Pride vignettes, the various production deadlines, as well as the collection and delivery of a large number of documents that are required by the City for all required exemptions. But I do not want to discuss that here.

Jul 2019       
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Yesterday was July 2, 2019. “So what?” I hear you thinking. What’s so special about this date? Indeed, for most of us the date doesn’t signify anything of importance. Yet it is a day that will affect all of us. I am not talking about the total solar eclipse that takes place that day (almost completely above water and not visible) but about the first day of the session period of the newly elected European Parliament.

Jul 2019       
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Now that spring is coming, we feel new things growing. The application review period for the new board has been completed, and the job interviews took place at the beginning of May. The candidate board will be announced at the end of May, after which the members will be nominated at the General Members’ Meeting on June 20 and (hopefully) approved.

Jun 2019       
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It is not clear to everyone that through Pride Amsterdam, we not only celebrate our diversity, but also act in a festive manner against inequality and discrimination. This year, our focus is on the P of Protest.

Jun 2019       
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May was a very special month in my family, as we celebrated three birthdays in May: my late father, my brother in law (my brother’s husband) and my youngest sister. My sister is three times last on the list: she is the youngest member of our family, she was - after my brother and myself - the last of the family to come out of the closet, and she is the youngest of all sixteen cousins on father’s side.

Jun 2019       
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The month of April - the start of spring, the opening of the festival season, and, of course, the month of our king’s birthday! Our beautiful association had again organized a whole range of events during this period.

May 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Five years ago, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon from Brussels got into trouble. In the university hospital he worked at, he had hurled all kinds of anti-Semitic reproaches towards a Jewish assistant-in-training during an operation. The story leaked to the media. The surgeon was not aware of any harm done, but forgot to take the Israeli lobby machine into account. That was also my first introduction to this powerful lobby group.

May 2019       
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With these painful words, Pride Ambassador Dolly Bellefleur -in her letter to Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf” - describes how she, and others with her, had experienced the 2018 Canal Parade as a participant.

May 2019       
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Dear Willem-Alexander, Congratulations on your fifty-second birthday! You are only one year older than I am, and if you had repeated a class, we perhaps would have ended up in the same one.

Apr 2019       
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Roosters wake me up, and a faint light comes through the small windows of my cabin. I briefly turn over, but wake up a little later because of a serenade of rooster calls. O well, it is time to get up anyway. I step into the kitchen of the main building and put on a kettle of water on the stove. With an empty bucket I head to the water tank and fill the bucket for a quarter with rain water.

Apr 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Since June 1, 2017, PrEP is reimbursed in Belgium. According to scientists, it is effective prevention against HIV and would drastically reduce the number of HIV infections. That is the theory. Practice - as often - shows a different picture.

Apr 2019       
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For the international pride movement, 2019 is a special year. In June, it is fifty years ago that the Stonewall Riots broke out in New York, a fact that is commemorated all over the world.

Apr 2019       
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We can’t ignore it any more: the theme of the Amsterdam Canal Parade is, of course, “Remember the Past, Create the Future.” We are extremely pleased with this theme at A.S.V.Gay, as it ties in extremely well with what we actually do as a student’s union.

Apr 2019       
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During a spring long in the past now, my mother was on her deathbed. One evening, I asked her if she was afraid to die. “No,” she replied, “I am going to see Hetty and God.” God was God, and Hetty was her twin sister and my godmother. Hetty had died a few years earlier.

Mar 2019       
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January was the month of New Year’s resolutions and reflection. Let’s drink less, have fewer hangovers, and spend less money. Less than two days into the New Year, and all of these good intentions are out of the window. Let’s try again next year. But which intentions remain? More parties, more excitement, more fun people to meet! YES.

Mar 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Last year, Boudewijn Van Spilbeeck, the fifty-eight-year-old journalist at the News Service of Flemish commercial broadcaster VTM, announced that from that moment on, he wanted to go through life as a woman. By now Bo has completed all her operations and transition, and is back at work full-time.

Mar 2019       
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With my hand up, a tattoo glued to my hand and with an angry look, I want everyone to know that I’ve had enough... “What are you fed up with?” Anton the photographer wants to know. “With the violence, aggression and the hatred against GLBTI+.” There are a lot of people at the protest event. It also strikes me that there are a lot of young people who have themselves photographed by Anton de Bruin, the engine behind the virtual barricade.

Mar 2019       
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Since last month, I live in Hooge Zwaluwe in the Dutch province of Brabant again. It is February, and almost time for the traditional carnival. The last time I celebrated it was four year ago with my friend Wouter. He left Amsterdam in his rabbit suit and me in my sailor outfit, going to Breda with public transport. We were very popular. I told him about the old days, about how I used to celebrate carnival in my home town Breda, the city where I now live close by again.

Feb 2019       
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At the time of writing, the last days of 2018 are counting down, and at the same time we can look forward to a New Year full of beautiful events and activities! The ninth board of A.S.V.Gay is in its third month now, and has already had a wonderful time with great experiences.

Feb 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, A reformer. A pioneer. Extremely likeable and friendly. There was no shortage of praises when Pope Francis took over the pontifical office on 13 March 2013 from his predecessor Benedict XVI, who had indicated his wish to resign the month before for health reasons.

Feb 2019       
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“Just act normal,” my mother told me when I was imitating the Dutch 1980s girl band the Dolly Dots with my two sisters and the girl next door, or when my brother and I were washing our doll clothes and hanging them on the clothesline to dry.

Feb 2019       
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The Amsterdam Gay Student Association A.S.V.Gay is a union that each month, organizes special drinks, fantastic parties and socially relevant activities. This was no different the end of last year!

Jan 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Another year, and time for new quotes from the last semester of 2018 from well-known or lesser-known Belgians about our queer fellow man, in all GLBTQI forms. A brief anthology of Flemish media.

Jan 2019       
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“Each New Year’s Day is like a new, hopeful beginning,” my father said every January 1st, while scattering some icing sugar on top of his “oliebollen” (a kind of doughnut ball that is typically served around New Year’s in the Netherlands). My father then changed for our visitors, and poured himself a drink.

Dec 2018       
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With winter fast approaching it takes some getting used to the colder weather after such an exceptionally hot summer. Luckily for us we have the A.S.V. Gay (Amsterdam Gay Student Union Gay) to help us get through the coming months with a large selection of activities for our members, as well as our weekly get-together every Wednesday, which provides the perfect opportunity to take a break from the somewhat mundane weekly study routine.

Dec 2018       
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When you are reading this, it is almost December 5, or that day has just past. In the Netherlands, we celebrate the children’s party Sinterklaas on that day. Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is the prematurely born brother of Santa Claus. Originally, Sinterklaas is from Turkey. Long and long ago, however, they did not know where that country was exactly. For convenience sake, the children were told he arrived on his boat from Spain, bearing gifts and accompanied by his assistant Black Pete.

Dec 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, I work in healthcare in Belgium, and know it through and through. A medical journalist and columnist with a very sharp and analytical pen whom I know, informed me that he would soon publish a column on a medical-professional website. He had spoken to a French-speaking lesbian specialist who works in a Brussels hospital and who complains about missed promotional opportunities, as well as the fact that there are hardly any lesbian doctors in Belgium.

Nov 2018       
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A.S.V. Gay’s general meeting took place on October 2, 2018. From this day on, we are now officially the ninth board of student association A.S.V.Gay. Fantastic! Now, we can finally get started with our plans and ideas.

Nov 2018       
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When you are reading this, you may just be getting your pumpkins ready, trying on your troll costume, or hanging up fake spider’s webs for Halloween. It’s that time of the year again. Even though I love dress-up parties, strangely enough Halloween was never really my thing. I did not grow up with it.

Nov 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Through Facebook, people stay in touch with friends and acquaintances sharing memories. However, some of these posts are also of a sad nature. The death of a pet, a father or mother or other family member, a friend. Just as well that Facebook also deals with more serious matters.

Oct 2018       
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Summer has now slipped into autumn, and the cultural season has begun. Each year, the “Uitmarkt” in Amsterdam is an extremely busy event I usually attend. This year, I went with my sister.

Oct 2018       
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As summer truly is over now, and the classes and endlessly long working days are awaiting us, it is time for the “changing of the guard” at GLBTQ+ student association A.S.V.Gay. Board of Directors #9 will take over from Board #8 at our general members meeting on October 2.

Sep 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, It is forbidden by law to deny that the Holocaust ever happened during the Second World war. And with reason. The denial of very different forms of violence, physical or mental, however, is not penalized. In this case: gay bashing.

Sep 2018       
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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.

Sep 2018       
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Before I met my present partner, I hadn’t bothered to attend the Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade for some years. I’m not very tall, and the past few years the canals were dominated by tall inebriated straight women in pink hats and trendy high heels, who responded with irritated looks when I politely asked if I might move to the front so I could catch a glimpse of the parade.

Aug 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, In the Dutch media it was reported that - although they use different wording as to not mention their true motives - municipalities and governments do their utmost to “eradicate” gay meeting places. A kind of hidden agenda, so to speak, under the guise of all sorts of fallacies while not actually saying that the elimination of such meeting places is in fact the real reason, and not the consequence of a certain policy.

Aug 2018       
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Dolly Bellefleur is the alter-ego of cabaret performer and lyricist Ruud Douma. For twenty-eight years now, Dolly is “Frau Antje van het Verkeerde Kantje” (Miss Antje of the Other Side), both on the barricades and on stage. As winner of the Canal Parade 2017, Dolly Bellefleur & Friends will sail the Amsterdam canals again this year.

Aug 2018       
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I am running a cosy hotel with my best female friend Pascale in the centre of the “country’s most beautiful city,” as singer Wim Sonneveld once described Amsterdam. It has its advantages. Although our hotel is not “Fawlty Towers,” every day something new happens.

Jul 2018       
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In recent months, A.S.V.Gay had the pleasure of having a full and great schedule. We were bestowed the great honour to speak at the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Homomonument. For the first time in the history of our association, we travelled to Manchester by plane.

Jul 2018       
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Last year’s Pride Amsterdam, we stayed true to ourselves looking at what Pride is all about - our Pride and sharing our Pride. It was my-your-her-his and our Pride. Now, we have emphasised this sense of community by deleting the word gay from Gay Pride. By doing so, we have become more inclusive, and radiate that Pride is for the entire LGBTI community.

Jul 2018       
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I turned fifty this month. On the morning of my birthday, I looked at myself in the mirror, saw some new crow’s feet around my eyes, and grabbed the framed family photograph that was made when my father turned fifty (in 1985) to compare myself to him.

Jul 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, The Belgian Pride of May 19 was held over a month ago. It was a pride that is memorable for several reasons. In the first place because of the Pride itself. For obscure reasons, the parade went through the narrow streets of Brussels’ centre.

Jul 2018       
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Just thirty minutes sailing from the former Dutch Antilles Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, you will find a president who not only lets his people starve, but also die from infectious diseases that are completely treatable, such as HIV.

Jul 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, It is time for the first media review of 2018, with quotes from well-known or lesser-known Belgians - whether or not GLBTQ - about (homo) sexuality in the broadest sense of the word, and recorded in Flemish media.

Jun 2018       
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Our Pride, which due to its special character is often forgotten to be named in the list of the largest and most important festivals in the Netherlands, has now received such national recognition. At the end of March, I received word that we were nominated for best public event in the Netherlands.

Jun 2018       
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As we all know, Amsterdam is seen as the “Gay Capital of Europe,” probably for being the capital of first country to legalize gay marriage, and it’s high tolerance to all types of sexualities. Although my plan of moving to the Venice of the North was unexpected, so far I have had great adventures and lots of fun.

Jun 2018       
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Last April it was fifteen years ago my father died at the age of sixty-eight. My father loved reading and my mother, a former nun. He also loved his children, which manifested itself mainly in the chores he did for them. Less in showing physical affection.

May 2018       
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May to me is a special month. It was one year ago in this spring month that I entered into a relationship with my Syrian-Armenian friend. This year for the very first time, we stood hand in hand at the Remembrance of the Dead in Amsterdam. A day later, we celebrated freedom together.

May 2018       
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Most of us will not have offspring. However, it is our duty to ensure that we can pass on the rainbow in all its bright colors to future generations. With this in mind, I have been taking part in the festival consultation with the municipality of Amsterdam regarding a new events policy since 2014.

May 2018       
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Spring Has Arrived! In February and March, we have welcomed new members of A.S.V.Gay, almost all attending our introduction weekend. The theme was “Gays in Space,” and so the program was filled with activities such as lightsaber fighting and landing on the moon. Our traditional beer relay was also scheduled, including bananas and biscuits, as well as our infamous “wild” evening.

May 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Through Facebook you read personal stories, outside of your circle of friends, for instance a shared appeal from a Fleming, a person in his fifties from the province of Antwerp. The man had met a man from West Africa a few years ago, his ideal husband and partner according to his post on Facebook. At his own expense he had the man come over to Belgium, in the hope and assumption that he would be able to marry him in no time.

May 2018       
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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.

Apr 2018       
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The municipal elections are just behind us. In my municipality, Zaanstad, sixteen parties participated for thirty-nine council seats. It was very difficult to make an informed choice. Not only am I confused, I am also split.

Apr 2018       
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Last year saw the thirtieth anniversary of the Homomonument, signifying that for three decades now, the call “Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen” (Such an endless desire for friendship) can be heard from the old centre of Amsterdam. In 1979, when the plans for the monument were just in the early stage, this line of poetry by Jacob Israël de Haan had already been used as the title of an anthology of Dutch homoerotic poetry.

Mar 2018       
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A.S.V.Gay’s first trip of the year! Last January, we went to Düsseldorf for a weekend with a group of about forty-five people. As this trip was in the form of a car rally, our destination was not known in advance. We only knew that the weekend’s theme would be “James Bond,” so naturally, most teams wore matching outfit.

Mar 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, For a while, Flemish political TV journalist Boudewijn Van Spilbeeck became international news. This time as “Bo,” as of January 30th, Boudewijn is going through life as Bo. A remarkable story, especially if you have a lot of respect for Boudewijn’s long professional career and how he could keep this a secret for so long.

Mar 2018       
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I saw #ikbenhetzat (I’ve had enough) on the social media profiles of gay friends after a twenty-four-year-old gay man was beaten and robbed in Amsterdam.

Mar 2018       
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In awe, I was standing in front of a beautiful country house and looked again at the paper on which I had written down the address. Yes, the address was correct. “Just a minute...” I recognised Simon’s voice. He opened the door and said “Come in” with a big smile on his face. I entered a beautiful space. There were paintings on the walls, and there was a large crystal chandelier hanging in the middle of the room.

Mar 2018       
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In Belgium, the next municipal elections will take place on October 14. Perhaps not that important, you might think, but they will say something about the results of the next national elections in 2019. Left-wing versus right-wing (or vice-versa), just as in the Netherlands. There is no place in the elections for moderate opinions and election promises, even at a local and municipal level. The fight for a seat on the city council will be with boxing gloves on.

Feb 2018       
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It is a fact that people, especially the male population, spend less and less time reading. I find this incomprehensible. I myself do not feel comfortable when I am not tackling one or two books. How do people living in a bookless environment spend their time? Are they just sitting behind their computer or in front of the television?

Jan 2018       
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