This Pride was the toughest delivery ever. To save Pride Amsterdam from ruin and to safeguard it for the future, we had to solve more problems with a small team than the municipality could handle. But we succeeded and also organized the most substantive Pride ever. I therefore dedicate this column to my dream team. I love you guys!
We traditionally open Pride on the last Saturday of July with a demonstrative walk from the gay monument to Vondelpark. Since the Pride Walk is not an event and therefore should not need a permit, we have taken it out of our permit application this year in protest and simply registered it in accordance with the Public Manifestations Act on 16 July. For the first time in history, we were also a demonstration according to the law, so that city life was taxed more than before.
Walking for those who cannot join us, meant it gave the Walk extra meaning by dedicating the trip to Jelena Grigorjeva, a Russian activist who was brutally murdered only recently.
She had been threatened because she appeared on Facebook with photos and texts such as "There are more than 5 million gays and lesbians in Russia, but because of backwardness and hate they have to live in secret".
Frans Banninck Cocq Award for Pride Ambassador Hans Verhoeven
Before the Pride Walk started, Hans Verhoeven received an Amsterdam award from Mayor Femke Halsema. He received the Frans Banninck Cocq Award for his contributions to LGBT emancipation. Hans was the organizer of the first major gay event in Amsterdam, EuroPride (1994), has been an ambassador of Pride Amsterdam since 2013, and has been at the helm of our Pride Walk committee since 2017. The Pride Walk (since 2012) is a collaboration between the Amsterdam Gay Pride foundation and the Homomonument foundation.
Pride Amsterdam = Immaterial Heritage
This year, the Pride Walk ran underneath the Rijksmuseum, so that we could take an iconic photo of our heritage on Museumplein and then follow the route to Vondelpark. The official addition to the Heritage Inventory took place on the stage of the open-air theatre in Vondelpark. With this, we can now ensure that Pride can still be celebrated in 100 years’ time, and that we can pass it on from generation to generation.
As the usefulness of our event became more and more the subject of discussions, I felt the need to safeguard our Pride and I registered it with the Immaterial Heritage Netherlands network in 2017. In the meantime, I have attended several national heritage days and got to know many beautiful traditions and crafts that the Netherlands has to offer. Pride as one of those traditions is unique and makes me feel very privileged. What is now Immaterial Heritage in the Netherlands, can be a reason for prosecution in another country, sometimes even resulting in the death penalty.
The Birth of a New Tradition
After arriving at the Vondelpark, people could dance in the open-air theatre, participate in various sports clinics, be informed or buy fun gadgets at the Rainbow market and make cupcakes or pride buttons on the Youth Pride field. New this year was that you could also walk a Pride Ball. I am very proud and happy that we have been able to realize the dream of our ambassador Amber Vineyard. The first Pride Ball was a great success and has proven to be a good addition to Pride. The atmosphere around the catwalk was one of equality, inclusiveness, creativity, participation, learning, and creating, but above all a lot of love.
A’DAM Pride Tower
The A’DAM tower once again illuminated the city with its rainbow lighting, but it was also a "hotspot" in our programming. TransPride was officially opened there, the annual pink 50+ brunch took place there, the role of the business community was critically examined during a conference at the tower, the ASV Gay students held their symposium and sports associations could get in touch with their LGBT supporters in the Pride sports café. Pride TV reported on these activities, but also broadcasted a daily live talk show from the 17th floor.
Stonewall on Mercatorplein
Due to its success in 2018, we were back on Mercatorplein with our outdoor cinema on Wednesday 31 July. With the films "Happy Birthday Marsha!" and "Paris is Burning", the programming was entirely devoted to the Afro- and Latino-American Queer community from New York. Prior to the film night, local LGBT activists in the Amsterdam Library Organisation OBA had a conversation with a Stonewall survivor, Victoria Cruz, especially flown from the US.
Guest of Honour Victoria Cruz
Victoria Cruz was at the Stonewall Inn at the time of the riots and was dating one of the club's doormen. In 1970 she participated in the first Pride march ever, and in 1997 she started the Anti-Violence Project. She has dedicated her entire life to helping LGBT victims of violence and rape. She can be seen in the documentary "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson".
When we were in New York for the commemoration of Stonewall 50, our office manager Anita Beek went looking for Victoria Cruz. She managed to persuade her to come to Amsterdam as a guest of honour despite her old age and limited mobility. Victoria soon gave Anita the nickname “Mama-ger” and she said that she thought the Amsterdam experience was unforgettable. In addition to being the main guest in the panel discussion at the OBA, she was also a guest at the residence and office of the Mayor of Amsterdam, figurehead on the TransPride boat, and featured in one of our live talk shows on Pride TV.
The Canals are Ours Again!
This edition goes down in history as the Pride in which the boat parade lost a part of its spontaneity but also regained its authenticity. In recent years, the boat parade has been driven into the background by the noise of third parties, and last year it was almost hijacked by non-Pride-related commercial phenomena. This situation could not last. Together with the Mayor of Amsterdam we decide to implement two drastic measures that would reclaim the canals for us. And it worked beautifully.
By no longer allowing amplified sound on boats on the quays and by making the water an event area where you only had access to with a previously purchased Pride vignette, we managed to bring back the peace in order for everyone to be able to enjoy everything that passed by.
The houseboat residents are also very enthusiastic about the effects of the new rules, and report that they have not been able to sleep as quietly for years as the night before and after the boat parade.
Visit of Venezuelan Gay Mothers
We invited Mayre Martinez this year for all gay Latinos in general and my husband in particular. What happens to us in the Netherlands when Anita Meijer starts "Why tell me Why" happens to them when this Latina sings "Reina de la noche". Just like millions of others, Mayre had to leave Venezuela and ended up in Los Angeles. There, she won "The Latin American Idol" and became second at "La Voz America". Another fled Venezuelan singing talent who ended up in the Netherlands just like my husband is Paul Morris, a finalist of the "Dance and Sing" program. His big gay dream came true when he was allowed to sing a duet with Mayre on Dam Square. We have enjoyed both, and Mayre is telling her 415,000 followers on Instagram that our Pride is one of the best experiences in her life. “You are just WONDERFUL. LOVE + PEACE + RESPECT
Pride Amsterdam is the Most Inclusive & Diverse in the World
Another icon that came to celebrate our Pride this year was Stacey Lentz, co-owner of the legendary Stonewall Inn Café in New York. After her departure, she let the world know: “Pride in Amsterdam is incredible and epic and cannot be compared with anything I have ever seen. The entire city celebrates that you can be who you are. Trans, Bi, Lesbian, Gay, together with straight and whatever your identity is ... everyone participates ... everyone celebrates diversity. Pride truly takes over the entire city here! The message is really about inclusion, and you can feel why this was the first country to implement same-sex marriage and why it is at the forefront of human rights!”
So, we are probably doing something VERY good and right here!
Lucien Spee is managing director of the Amsterdam Pride Foundation , organizer of the yearly Amsterdam Pride, which took place from July 27 - August 4, 2019. Next year's edition: July 25- Aug. 2, 2020. See www.pride.amsterdam for more information on this event.