More and more bad stuff is happening in our semi-tolerant country. Boys between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, who display different behavior at school, are sometimes literally bullied into the closet.
New Year's Day. The phone is ringing, and when I answer, it is Africa calling. They are giving me an update on how things are going there. The schools are on their break. Yet, children are getting tutoring on a daily basis. She tells me that more people have died of AIDS. People who did not even know they were HIV positive.
Give kids a fighting chance . . . .to further develop themselves. Give them knowledge, so that they can develop themselves, because every child has received the gift to enrich diversity in this world. Children are the future and we are their example.
Through my network I come into contact a lot with others who also work in Africa. Nico Hollander is one of those people who dedicates himself to the cause in his work as a pastor. He lives and works in the Republic of The Gambia, a beautiful but very poor country.
“Well, if it isn’t Mr. Writer.” Next to me I sense Hans Verhoeven’s smile. We welcome each other as buddies. “Getting straight to the point, are you aware of the GLBTI homeless youth in the Netherlands?” Through the dim light in Club Akhnaton, where the Mister Leather election is being held this year, I can see that the expression of his face is changing.
I receive a message from a mutual friend telling me about the “Street Heart Festival” on the Kerkstraat near Club Church. I already knew it from previous editions and remembered having a great time last year.
It is Wednesday afternoon. Taking shelter from the rain occasionally, I am cycling to the city district Amsterdam East with Ambassador Raymond and his friend, both in leather. When we arrive, we are welcomed by a colourful and vibrant scene.
"Creative thinking inspires ideas, and ideas inspire change” (Barbara Januszkiewicz). In front of me is Tony de Wilde, brand manager of the Mister B leather shop, who, as a creative thinker, keeps an eye on the latest developments and trends every day.
The history of a “Grand Dame” was screened on August 7 in Amsterdam’s movie theater Pathé de Munt, and showing on that same evening in Zwolle, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The cinema was full to the brim, and Sander den Baas was also present. Upon entering the theater, I greeted him and congratulated him, sensing that I was going to see something special.
It is around five o’clock on Sunday afternoon when we are riding the tube and are told that it will no longer depart. Problems with the doors. Apparently, they are not closing. O well, we’ll just have to walk the last stop. Modern times, eh?
The law of attraction states that similar energies are drawn together. The outside world is a reflection of yourself, because you attract everything you experience. I'm speaking to Suzanne on the phone. She has decided to run for Miss Leather Netherlands.
People regularly tell me that Amsterdam is no longer what it once was. In the past, there were shows in cafés and discos they tell me. Of course, everything is temporary and yes, half of these former gay establishments are gone, but a lot is still happening, and unforgettable evenings can still be had. IDAHOTIQZ was such an evening, but let me start at the beginning.
To award the title of International Mister Bootblack, this competition has been around for twenty-seven years, with twenty-six consecutive winners from America or Canada. Kriszly is sitting in front of me, with a radiant smile on his face. He is the first European to earn the title International Mister Bootblack.
Around 10 p.m. on the evening before King’s Day I arrive at Amsterdam Central Station. The station is quiet, but when I walk outside the station, it is busy, but not that busy. I wander in the direction of Westerstraat, to me the heart of the Jordaan district. Some friends are having a beer in front of a second-hand store. Two hours later, we are getting the party started.
Some look down on the fetish scene, but in this day and age, it is important that people can show their true feelings. Sitting next to me at The Web Bar is Raymond Timmer, now a well-known name in the gay community and not just in Amsterdam.
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.
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.
I kept thinking of this saying throughout a restless night. It is made clear in my dream that I should be tested for hepatitis C. In my dream I was tested. Doctors with serious faces, nurses with those caps on, and sombre faces are passing by with needles and that index finger raised.
I am in the Transkei in South Africa, where I have been working on projects since 2007. The first five years I focused on AIDS orphans. After this period, we’re focussing on destitute children and their environment. To this day I am regularly besieged by women who want to marry me, being a single white man.
A message from my sister. “Hey Wil, can you give a presentation in Enkhuizen? Please contact Lia Brouwer, she works for West-Friesland Libraries.” Sometime later, I speak to Lia on the phone and hear what they would like me to do if I’m interested in giving a presentation during the Pink Week West-Friesland. “We would like to have you represent the GLBT community as a gay author.”
Last July, the book “Droom van een Vrijbuiter” was presented at Amsterdam’s Beurs van Berlage. The book is written by Wil Groot, who has been active in the battle against HIV and AIDS in South Africa for many years now. In his book Groot has put down his experciences in a country which is different from our own in almost everything.
About the auteur
Wil Groot has, after being diagnosed with HIV, radically changed his lavish lifestyle. By now, Wil has been busy for years with the fight against HIV & Aids in South-Africa, where it poses one of the biggest health-threats in the world.
In 2018 he publish his book 'Droom van een vrijbuiter' (A Vigilante's Dream), in which he documented his experiences in a country which is in near every aspect the opposite of the Netherlands. Check his website for more information, at www.willenendoen.com.