In the run up to the EuroPride in Amsterdam, some optimists speculated that perhaps up to one million visitors would go to our capital to celebrate this festival of sexual diversity. Those unrealistic expectations did not materialize, but last year’s number of visitors, at already record levels, were matched.
Shortly before the start of EuroPride research bureau Respons announced the data on the attendance of as many as 837 different “festivals” organized in the Netherlands in 2015. In the top 25 of free festivals, which is led by the Four Day Walking Event in Nijmegen with over one and a half million visitors, the Amsterdam Gay Pride came in fourth with 600,000 visitors, thus “more popular” than the Uitmarkt Amsterdam, which attracted 500,000 people last year.
Although the various large-scale events that were organized as part of EuroPride were immensely popular, the traditional and exuberant Canal Parade this year again was the most popular.
The increased “commercialization” as a result of this popularity increasingly leads to criticism, especially the criticism that the Gay Pride is in danger of becoming a straight event, and that gay people would literally miss the boat. In an interview with newspaper Het Parool Dolly Bellefleur, who participated in the first ever Canal Parade on her hairdresser’s “tiny boat,” acknowledges that “the organization faces a difficult dilemma. They can no longer organize the boat parade without sponsors, with many commercial boats as a result. That is regrettable, as a lot of small gay organizations literally miss the boat. I also wonder why every political party needs to have its own vessel. Can’t they just make friends and share one?”
However, in the same newspaper, TV presenter Rik van de Westelaken labels this “a non-discussion”: “We should be happy that people are interested in homosexuality in a positive way. Amsterdam is at its best on these days.”
He is right about this, and those who think that the Canal Parade is focused too much on straight people could visit many other events that were much more intimate, where gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people were key.
Below a photographic impression, photos by Jeroen Ploeger (c).