You’d rather have your children play with and relate to Barbie and Ken, and effortlessly delete gay parts from elementary school musicals, while still having no clue what “undetectable” means, and consistently confuse the terms HIV and AIDS. You don’t write a single pamphlet against homophobia with like-minded intellectuals to your local newspaper, when, once again, we are beaten up or taxi drivers refuse to take us.
You often confuse the terms transvestite and transsexual, and you do not know whether you should address them with “he” or “she” - you find the discussion about gender neutrality nonsensical anyway - and you see our brave men in beautiful women’s clothes sailing on the Pride boats not as the artistic figureheads of our community, but only as man-made mannequins that can best be taunted and sprayed with water guns.
You are very welcome at our party called “Pride,” but if you make the effort to come to Amsterdam, take the time to study what Pride actually means.
“Remember the past, create the future” is this year’s theme. This year, it is exactly fifty years ago that the Stonewall Riots broke out in New York City. The GLBT+ outsiders were more than fed up with brutal police raids and decided - initially mainly under the leadership of transvestites (Sylvia Rivera), transsexuals (Marsha P. Johnson) and lesbians (Stormé DeLarverie) - to fight back. Days of riots and unrest followed.
In July 1969, the Gay Liberation Front was founded in New York. That same year, other divisions of the GLF were founded in other American cities and at universities. Exactly one year after the Stonewall riots, the first Gay Pride Parade ever took place between Greenwich Village and Central Park. It had around 10,000 participants.
Similar initiatives were launched worldwide. In the Netherlands, the first ever Pink Saturday (Roze Zaterdag) was celebrated in 1977. That Saturday - as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots that started on Saturday, June 28 - is always held on the last Saturday of June.
In 1969, courageous GLBT+ pioneers such as Rivera, DeLarverie and Johnson created our future, so that now - fifty years later - I can celebrate a big and spectacular party as Pride Amsterdam, and thus proudly and visibly ask for a safe future for the GLBT+ people to come.
Research unfortunately shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are still experiencing considerably more problems than straight youth. Transsexual youth are still being bullied twice as often as non-transgender youth. The number of suicide attempts among GLBT+ young people is still five times higher than among straight young people. And all the studies show that immigrant GLBT+ young people have an even harder time than native GLBT+ young people.
If you, dear heterosexual, see the GLBT+ community as something exotic, as something that is not really part of our society, if you think you can taunt those funny drag queens and spray them with water guns, just like in previous years, if you, during Pride, are actually just building your own heterosexual party, with such loud music, so much liquor, and so many pills that the disinterest for the boat parade drips off the canal quays, then you should wonder whether you and your overly loud heterosexual friends who, once a year, find homosexuals quite unique and exotic, shouldn’t have your party elsewhere.
This year, we celebrate Pride because we want to show that our history has been and is important, both for us and for society as a whole, that we can be our diverse and sometimes eccentric self in the present, and that we should not only wish for a better future for our community, but can also create it now. Together with you, our sweet, genuinely interested, tolerant heterosexual without a water gun.
I dedicate this column to Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Marsha P. Johnson. To our heroes of yesteryear, “Remember the past.”