Columns & OpinionsAfter the huge success of the EuroPride and putting free-thinking Amsterdam and the Netherlands on the map, this year we will look inward to see what we really are all about. Your Pride and sharing that Pride. This is your Pride, her Pride, his Pride, our Pride. This is My Pride! by Lucien Spee
- 11 May 2017
|This is My Pride!|
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As is normal in this time of year, criticism can be heard that the Pride in Amsterdam has become a commercial straight party that has nothing to do with the gay rights movement. It is nostalgia I, as the Director, cannot work with for several reasons. In the first place because it is based on incorrect assumptions about the genesis and development of our Pride, and in the second place because of the fact that scientific research by Movisie has shown that companies that participate are indeed contributing to the acceptance of GLBTs. A win-win situation.
In 1970, a year after the Stonewall riots, the first ever Gay Pride Parade was held in New York City. Seven years later in the Netherlands, the first ever large demonstration took place, organised by the International Lesbian Alliance. This became a yearly event, known as “Roze Zaterdag” (Pink Saturday), in 1979, each year taking place in a different city. Contrary to Pink Saturday, the Amsterdam Pride - as the event was called from 1996 to 2006 - did not come about as a demonstration or protest march.
The Pride was a party organised by gay entrepreneurs, which united in the GBA, in order to promote Amsterdam as a gay entertainment city. This idea is still part of the DNA of our festival. A present to the city from its gay business, as Siep de Haan often calls it. Several years later, emancipatory content was added to the Pride, and it has grown from a one day event to an internationally recognized GLBT festival that reflects the diversity of the GLBT community with sports, arts and culture, pink church services, demonstrations in various city boroughs, and Lesbian, Senior and Trans Pride. Because of this development, we were also awarded the COC Bob Angelo Medal.
When I became involved in the Pride in 2011, Amsterdam still counted some ninety gay businesses, such as pubs, clubs and shops. More than half of these had to close their doors, but over the same period, the organisational costs doubled! Only for this reason it is not feasible any more to expect the remaining businesses to cough up the costs and still see the Pride as a gift from them to the city.
It is not only due to failing municipal policies, as many claim, or the Internet and Grindr that the number of gay businesses has decreased. The success of our own emancipation has caused tremendous changes. Gay people are getting married, are having children and have more traditional lifestyles in which there is less time for going out. And when gays do go out, married or not, they increasingly do so in “straight” establishments. Furthermore, gay emancipation abroad also continued, and we are now welcome in more and more countries. The arrival of low-cost carriers and Airbnb has also made this more affordable than ever. For the same amount of money, we now can go to Berlin or Barcelona for a weekend out.
At the same time in the Netherlands we are at a stage in which gay activism no longer has to focus on politics, but is focussing on employers and sports associations. This happens mostly from within these organisations, and as a result we increasingly see them participating in the boat parade. The proud pink employees associations of multinationals. We are not only grateful to them because they make the Pride possible with their large budgets, but also because they thus contribute to the “social norm” that it is normal to reject GLBT discrimination.
Finally, I refuse to think in terms of “us” and “them” as there would be no Pride without straight people. Not then and not now. Only the roles change a little. In the past, they were on the side-lines more, and we were more outside of society. Now they are on a boat more, but we are at the heart of society more. Give those who do not begrudge you equality a place among us!
Whomever you love, Amsterdam loves you!
Lucien Spee is CEO of the Foundation Amsterdam Gay Pride.
See www.pride.amsterdam for more information on Pride Amsterdam,
this Year July 29- August 6, 2017
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