The Amsterdam Gay Pride Festival

boats, Abba, and rainbow flags

– 30 States In The US Ban All Types Of Unions Except One-Man-One-Woman Couples
– Gay Rights Rally In Russia Ends With Clashes, Arrests
– Iran Arrests ‘Network Of Homosexuals and Satanists’ At Birthday Party

These are just three random headlines from news articles that I read some time ago. To be honest, these articles make me sad, leave me speechless. And believe me, I’m a talker, you’ve to pull out all the stops to get me to stop talking. We’re faced with negativity surrounding this subject almost every day.

Whether we read it in the newspaper, see it on TV, or worse, when LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) discrimination and violence happens closer to home.

amsterdam parade photo 1But I’m not writing this to take you on a trip down memory lane, I think the web is full with negativity as it is. No, I’m writing this blog post to give you an insight in probably one of the most important events in the Netherlands.

Do I think that the country where I was born and raised in is completely liberated and free of LGBT discrimination and violence? Absolutely not.

But there are a few days a year when it really doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, homosexual or heterosexual, as hundreds of thousands of visitors enter the capital city of Amsterdam to party at the Gay Pride Festival.

Hotels and other accommodation are fully booked months ahead, as everyone wants to come and celebrate that it’s perfectly okay to be who you are.

amsterdam parade photo 2Having a good time is priority number one during these first few days of August, and concerts, street parties and dance events are the result of that.

The highlight of the festival is the boat parade, and seriously, that is a happening! The color pink, wigs, feathers and outfits extravaganza are present everywhere you look.

Loud music sounds from the boats that sail on the famous canals of Amsterdam.

Groups of friends, and even Dutch celebrities and politicians, are dancing on the heavily decorated boats like they do it every day, cheered on by the thousands of visitors that occupy the streets and bridges. Happiness and joyfulness are everywhere, as people are able to forget about all the negativity that they’re faced and will again face the day after.

But until then, Amsterdam is the setting of how it’s supposed to be in every country, all around the world.

– Maaike
Ugly Ducklings Inc’s Research Assistant 

To read more about the festival, visit their official website, here.

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4 thoughts on “The Amsterdam Gay Pride Festival

  1. I feel like this is glazing over some of the underlying issues that are impacting our world today with regards to homosexuality. Maaike is right, Amsterdam is not perfect, therefore it is not setting an example. There are many countries that have pride parades; that doesn’t mean at the end of the parade or festival the rights of the individuals partaking in the events are any less discriminated against than before the festival began. I feel this article merits more discussion from your “Ugly Ducklings”.

    As a whole, I’m not a fan of gay pride parades. They don’t make a statement that makes me want to support anything they’re doing. Gay pride parades (at least here) are just an excuse to dress up (or down, or to not dress at all), act like an idiot in public, break the law, get smashed and take your clothes off. That shouldn’t be the message the LGBT community wants to spread. That’s not “giving a statement” to the public of anything besides “I’m not afraid to be an idiot in public”. If they were to do something that actually made a statement of “end the violence” or “equal rights”, I’d be all for it. For instance, “Take back the night” is an international festival where women get together after dark and go for a stroll. This is symbolic; they’re trying to end violence against women and the march happens at night because that is when much violence occurs.

    We should be asking the question WHY… WHY do we NEED to have a pride parade? The answer is… because they are an oppressed people. They are discriminated again. There is violence. They can’t get married. They can’t get benefits. People LITERALLY hate them FOR WHO THEY ARE. And NO ONE deserves to be hated for who they are. So this community and their friends and family all get together to say “hey government, hey citizens, hey people… that’s not okay. I’m a person. And I deserve to be treated like one”. And that’s GREAT. That’s your right as a citizen (here) – but if you want people to respect you, you need to act respectable.

    I love that Ugly Ducklings is having a discussion about homosexuality – because how could they not? It is something huge that so many people struggle with. I just don’t think Amsterdam deserves to be put on a pedestal of “we’re so awesome because this awesome parade happens”. Unless the author can tell me that violence against the LGBT community doesn’t happen there like it does everywhere else, I don’t think Amsterdam is any more progressive than any other community and we are still missing out on discussion of the underlying issues.

    • Hi Amelia,

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I appreciate your concern.

      I do realize that there indeed are more underlying issues that are impacting our world today with regards to homosexuality. In fact, there are so many underlying issues, that it would be impossible to capture it all in one blog post. I also never intended to do so. Instead, I deliberately decided to focus on only one event, that to my opinion sends out a positive message to the world.

      You’re right, Amsterdam is not the only place where a Gay Pride Parade is hosted, and this post is also not intended to promote the one in Amsterdam, or make the city and/or the country as a whole ‘superior’ when it comes to this topic, opposed to any other cities and countries in the world. The solely reasons I chose Amsterdam as an example is because it hosts the largest Gay Pride Parade in the world, but more importantly, I’m from this country and I happen to know some people who have been there and they were so kind to share their experiences with me. That really helped me with writing this blog entry. In addition, there’s a lot of media coverage in the Dutch media which I was able to use for my research.

      You’ve every right to have your own opinion about Gay Pride Parades, and I never meant to force my personal opinion or opinions of people I’ve spoken to or read about, to anyone. I believe that the key issue here is that people who do participate are having a good time, and whether that has to go hand in hand with acting out, and dressing differently, that shouldn’t make a difference. If that’s what makes these people happy, what are we to complain? Moreover, statements are being made by for example flags (like the rainbow one in the picture), and banners with legal rights texts and symbols on it are shown everywhere during those days as well. I don’t think that these people are trying to be disrespectful in any way.

      I can’t speak for any other Gay Pride Parade, but the one in Amsterdam is strictly regulated, and always runs smoothly in general, without too many problems. Of course, small crimes like pickpocketing do occur, like with every large event, but in general there are never major problems being reported. It’s a very peaceful event.

      It’s a sad thing that these days had to be initiated in the first place, I completely agree with you on that. It’s a sign that things aren’t going well and that LGBT hate and discrimination do occur. Strangely enough however, this event is embedded in the Dutch culture so much by now, that people don’t see these days as ‘a dark cloud hanging over them,’ but more as a reason to celebrate. It’s seen as a way to bring across an important message, but at the same time it’s seen as a celebration as well.

      Again, this is just an example, and I explained earlier in this comment why I’ve chosen for Amsterdam and not any other event. That doesn’t mean that I disrespect the others, or think that the others aren’t worthy enough to write about. This is also not a blog entry to make Amsterdam or the Netherlands ‘superior’ opposed to any other cities and countries. Legal rights and laws have made things easier for the community here in the Netherlands (e.g. legalized gay marriage, legalized gay adoption of children), but there’s no law unfortunately that can make the discrimination dissapear. It’s something that has to be dealt with, and you’re right that we shouldn’t dismiss that fact. I’m sure that this discussion on UDI will continue, and that it won’t be only my blog post that contributes to it.

      Thank you once again for reading and commenting on my post, I really do appreciate it. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

      Love, Maaike

  2. thats awesome. we have sydney mardi gras here but sadly my country has not yet legalised gay marriage well they did in one state but then like a month later it got appealed and so the people who got married in that time it was no longer acknowledged.

    • Rules and regulations are different in every country. Here gay marriage has been legalized since 2001, and homosexual couples are also allowed to adopt children. Unfortunately hate and discrimination towards this group of society hasn’t dissapeared, and I’m afraid we’re a long way from where we should be. Both large and smaller initatives to address this issue and trying to make it better are therefore I think most welcome, and extremely necessary.

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