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May to me is a special month. It was one year ago in this spring month that I entered into a relationship with my Syrian-Armenian friend. This year for the very first time, we stood hand in hand at the Remembrance of the Dead in Amsterdam. A day later, we celebrated freedom together.

by Rick van der Made - 27 May 2018

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May: Month of Spring, Love, and Freedom

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My friend - his name is Armen - is from Aleppo. He had to flee, as he was homosexual in a country - and in a family culture - where it was not allowed to be who he wanted to be. Who he should be.

On May 4th we stood hand in hand on Dam Square because we believe that the best way to honor those who have fallen for our freedom and those who are still doing their utmost to guarantee our freedom, is by showing the world that here, in this country, we - two men - are allowed to love each other in all openness.

There are so many countries in which such a thing is not possible, where minorities are not allowed to be who they are. When I lived in France, I was surprised that Muslim girls had to take off their headdresses before entering their (public) schools. What does freedom mean if you are not allowed to wear what you like to wear?

I do not believe that banning headdresses contributes to a more tolerant society. To me, freedom does not mean covering everything up with a dull, meaningless blanket of equality, but the possibility of showing and celebrating differences.

I am of the opinion that a country will not benefit from a day-care with exclusively white dolls in the doll’s corner, but that it is better if there are also black, brown, yellow, crocheted, Hindu and Jewish dolls as well. Where you can find male dolls with women’s clothes and where two Kens lie next to each other with big pink triangles sewn on their clothes.

I think that children attending primary school should also read the beautiful picture book “King and King” in addition to Cinderella.

I think it would be a good idea to have the workforce of secondary schools in the Netherlands reflect society, where Moroccan principals are fighting homophobia just as hard as gay department directors are fighting xenophobia.

What is freedom? Freedom is the liberty to show who you are without the risk of being discriminated against, molested, arrested, or convicted.

That is why Armen has fled to this country. That is why we stood hand in hand at the official commemoration and celebrations of Remembrance and Liberation Day. Honoring soldiers killed in action and the dead. Celebrating freedom. Embracing diversity. Showing love.

That is why to me, the month of May will always be special. May: month of spring, love, and freedom.



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