“Amsterdam Gay Pride is not just another event. It is a symbol of the open and tolerant city we want to be. We celebrate the freedom to be who you want to be. For the past twenty years, the boat parade has become inseparable from Amsterdam and is here to stay in the city center.”
With these words, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan expressed how important he thinks Amsterdam Gay Pride is for Amsterdam. And not just for the Dutch capital, but also for the reputation of the Netherlands in general. With these words, he opened a meeting held in response to the shootings in Orlando. As it initially seemed to be an IS attack, there was unrest among organizers and participants of EuroPride. An attack abroad, however far away, causes anxiety and a sense of vulnerability every time.
Because fear should not disrupt our community and in support of our sister organizations, I walked at the front of and next to the Mayor of Paris alongside the Dutch ambassador in one of the largest Prides in Europe, the “Marche de Fiertés.” With pride, I spread the message that the Netherlands is a country with freedom for everyone. Meanwhile, almost all large and successful European Prides are behind us without incidents. There is no reason to assume that things will be different in Amsterdam. In cooperation with the security services of the Dutch government, all possible scenarios were discussed, and the National Coordinator Safety and Terrorism will keep a close eye on the situation.
Another meeting that was opened by our Mayor with these words was one with a group of complaining residents. In their fight for more “balance in the city,” they turned against the Pride and submitted individual and collective views and objections.
Without downplaying the inconvenience our festival might impose, you could argue that we are the victim of an accumulation of irritations the residents experience throughout the year due to the increased bustle of tourism and other festivals.
Although all objections begin with the statement that the authors underline the importance of the Gay Pride, and that it is not their intention to do our festival in, the costs of all requirements combined are so high that it would be unrealistic to presume they can be implemented. Compare it to a landlord increasing the rent of a welfare mother to 1,500 Euros while telling her that he wants her to stay on.
In order to stop the legal struggle regarding the sound dossier and bring about a constructive dialogue, this Pride will participate in an experiment by the University of Groningen. They have developed a method to look differently at noise levels, as the perception of sound is in fact very subjective. What I experience as pleasant, can be agonizing for someone else.
With a smart phone app called MoSART, visitors and residents can indicate how they experience ambient noise in terms of pleasantness. The subjective perception of sound is linked to the actual objective signal. Negative perceptions are mapped by red spheres and positive perception by green spheres. Anyone can participate in the experiment and communicate how he or she experiences the Pride festivities. I hope many of you will actively participate and make the map of Amsterdam green!
This year, we are hosting EuroPride in Amsterdam. A special European version of the Amsterdam Gay Pride that will span two weeks and starts on July 23 with Pink Saturday. Visit www.pride.amsterdam for more information or Like us on Facebook prideamsterdam.
Lucien Spee is managing director of the Foundation Amterdam Pride