Amsterdam will celebrate Pride from July 27 to August 4. For nine consecutive days, rainbow flags will wave over our city, and more than three hundred activities will be organized. The first Pride days mainly focus on substantive matters. Then there are workshops, congresses, conferences, artistic activities, and of course the Canal Parade. This year again, the Pride Walk marks the start of Pride Amsterdam.
On July 27, after a short demonstration with speakers and music at the Homomonument, there will be a demonstrative procession to the Vondelpark, where the arrival of the Pride Walk heralds the start of Pride Park with an extensive program of sports, an information market, music and fun activities.
For some years now, Hans Verhoeven is the driving force behind Pride Walk. Gay News spoke to him.
“The first ever Pride Walk was six years ago. It was Daan Smeelen, chairperson of the Homomonument Foundation, who took the initiative. She sensed a growing need in the rainbow community to ‘take to the streets.’ The first ever Walk started on Mercatorplein and ended at the Homomonument. The concept of the Pride week changed in 2016, bringing the Vondelpark into the picture. Since 2017, the Pride Walk is the official opening of the Pride week on the first Saturday of the nine days that Pride Amsterdam lasts, walking from Homomonument to the Vondelpark.”
From the first walk on, the Pride Walk has grown considerably in the number of participants and thus clearly meets a need. What do you want to achieve with the Pride Walk?
“The Pride Walk is for and by everyone. We invite people to express their message or opinion. Take a piece of cardboard and write on it what you think should be changed, what you are for or against, or what could be improved. However, waiving a rainbow flag is also making a statement. Over the years, more and more organizations have joined, using the Pride Walk to make their goals known and promote them. Many people also join because of a sense of belonging and solidarity. Participation is easy, as everyone can join.”
“From the Pride Walk Committee, we issue an international statement. We carry the flags of the more than seventy countries where homosexuality is in the Penal Code. In some countries it is even punishable by death. Fortunately, each year there are less and less, and in 2019 five countries fewer than the year before, as those countries have amended their legislation, or Supreme Courts have ruled that the provisions in the law are unconstitutional."
"That result has been achieved by local activists, who often put their own lives at risk in changing the law. The Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) often played a part in this as well. The ERC consists of thirty-six countries that use diplomacy to get the laws in those countries off the table. Employees from the embassies of the ERC countries also follow, directly behind the flags of the countries where they still have much work to do.”
How is the theme “Remember the Past, Create the Future” incorporated into the Pride Walk?
“We carry with us seventy-five signs on which we display the milestones and heroes of the past, as well the goals we still have for the future. Those signs provide a good overview of what has been achieved and the people who have played a role in it, but they are also a timetable for what we, as the rainbow community, still have to commit ourselves to in the coming years.”
More information on the Pride Walk can be found on www.pridewalk.amsterdam and on the Facebook page of Pride Walk Amsterdam. It would be great if interested people would make their participation known on the event page on Facebook, and organizations are asked to indicate by email with how many people they are about to come. That way, the organization has some idea of the expected number of participants and can take this into account in the preparations.
If you want to participate in a different way than walking (for example with a vehicle) you must register in advance via email@example.com.
Pride Amsterdam 2019, July 27 untill August 4, 2019, see pride.amsterdam, or check out our pride section at pride.gayamsterdam.com. You can also digitally browse our Amsterdam pride issue.
Photography: (c) Jeroen Ploeger/ AGP