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At the time of writing, the last days of 2018 are counting down, and at the same time we can look forward to a New Year full of beautiful events and activities! The ninth board of A.S.V.Gay is in its third month now, and has already had a wonderful time with great experiences.

Feb 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, A reformer. A pioneer. Extremely likeable and friendly. There was no shortage of praises when Pope Francis took over the pontifical office on 13 March 2013 from his predecessor Benedict XVI, who had indicated his wish to resign the month before for health reasons.

Feb 2019       
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“Just act normal,” my mother told me when I was imitating the Dutch 1980s girl band the Dolly Dots with my two sisters and the girl next door, or when my brother and I were washing our doll clothes and hanging them on the clothesline to dry.

Feb 2019       
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The Amsterdam Gay Student Association A.S.V.Gay is a union that each month, organizes special drinks, fantastic parties and socially relevant activities. This was no different the end of last year!

Jan 2019       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Another year, and time for new quotes from the last semester of 2018 from well-known or lesser-known Belgians about our queer fellow man, in all GLBTQI forms. A brief anthology of Flemish media.

Jan 2019       
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“Each New Year’s Day is like a new, hopeful beginning,” my father said every January 1st, while scattering some icing sugar on top of his “oliebollen” (a kind of doughnut ball that is typically served around New Year’s in the Netherlands). My father then changed for our visitors, and poured himself a drink.

Dec 2018       
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With winter fast approaching it takes some getting used to the colder weather after such an exceptionally hot summer. Luckily for us we have the A.S.V. Gay (Amsterdam Gay Student Union Gay) to help us get through the coming months with a large selection of activities for our members, as well as our weekly get-together every Wednesday, which provides the perfect opportunity to take a break from the somewhat mundane weekly study routine.

Dec 2018       
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When you are reading this, it is almost December 5, or that day has just past. In the Netherlands, we celebrate the children’s party Sinterklaas on that day. Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is the prematurely born brother of Santa Claus. Originally, Sinterklaas is from Turkey. Long and long ago, however, they did not know where that country was exactly. For convenience sake, the children were told he arrived on his boat from Spain, bearing gifts and accompanied by his assistant Black Pete.

Dec 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, I work in healthcare in Belgium, and know it through and through. A medical journalist and columnist with a very sharp and analytical pen whom I know, informed me that he would soon publish a column on a medical-professional website. He had spoken to a French-speaking lesbian specialist who works in a Brussels hospital and who complains about missed promotional opportunities, as well as the fact that there are hardly any lesbian doctors in Belgium.

Nov 2018       
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A.S.V. Gay’s general meeting took place on October 2, 2018. From this day on, we are now officially the ninth board of student association A.S.V.Gay. Fantastic! Now, we can finally get started with our plans and ideas.

Nov 2018       
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When you are reading this, you may just be getting your pumpkins ready, trying on your troll costume, or hanging up fake spider’s webs for Halloween. It’s that time of the year again. Even though I love dress-up parties, strangely enough Halloween was never really my thing. I did not grow up with it.

Nov 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Through Facebook, people stay in touch with friends and acquaintances sharing memories. However, some of these posts are also of a sad nature. The death of a pet, a father or mother or other family member, a friend. Just as well that Facebook also deals with more serious matters.

Oct 2018       
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Summer has now slipped into autumn, and the cultural season has begun. Each year, the “Uitmarkt” in Amsterdam is an extremely busy event I usually attend. This year, I went with my sister.

Oct 2018       
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As summer truly is over now, and the classes and endlessly long working days are awaiting us, it is time for the “changing of the guard” at GLBTQ+ student association A.S.V.Gay. Board of Directors #9 will take over from Board #8 at our general members meeting on October 2.

Sep 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, It is forbidden by law to deny that the Holocaust ever happened during the Second World war. And with reason. The denial of very different forms of violence, physical or mental, however, is not penalized. In this case: gay bashing.

Sep 2018       
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Never before had it been that warm and dry, this twenty-third edition of Pride Amsterdam. With temperatures above 25ºC and an average of 27.9ºC, we truly can speak of a Tropical Pride. The Friday before, the temperature had risen to 37ºC, but on Saturday, fortunately that was not the case. At night, there had been some rain, which made the temperature drop to a pleasant 25ºC.

Sep 2018       
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Before I met my present partner, I hadn’t bothered to attend the Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade for some years. I’m not very tall, and the past few years the canals were dominated by tall inebriated straight women in pink hats and trendy high heels, who responded with irritated looks when I politely asked if I might move to the front so I could catch a glimpse of the parade.

Aug 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, In the Dutch media it was reported that - although they use different wording as to not mention their true motives - municipalities and governments do their utmost to “eradicate” gay meeting places. A kind of hidden agenda, so to speak, under the guise of all sorts of fallacies while not actually saying that the elimination of such meeting places is in fact the real reason, and not the consequence of a certain policy.

Aug 2018       
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Dolly Bellefleur is the alter-ego of cabaret performer and lyricist Ruud Douma. For twenty-eight years now, Dolly is “Frau Antje van het Verkeerde Kantje” (Miss Antje of the Other Side), both on the barricades and on stage. As winner of the Canal Parade 2017, Dolly Bellefleur & Friends will sail the Amsterdam canals again this year.

Aug 2018       
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I am running a cosy hotel with my best female friend Pascale in the centre of the “country’s most beautiful city,” as singer Wim Sonneveld once described Amsterdam. It has its advantages. Although our hotel is not “Fawlty Towers,” every day something new happens.

Jul 2018       
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In recent months, A.S.V.Gay had the pleasure of having a full and great schedule. We were bestowed the great honour to speak at the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Homomonument. For the first time in the history of our association, we travelled to Manchester by plane.

Jul 2018       
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Last year’s Pride Amsterdam, we stayed true to ourselves looking at what Pride is all about - our Pride and sharing our Pride. It was my-your-her-his and our Pride. Now, we have emphasised this sense of community by deleting the word gay from Gay Pride. By doing so, we have become more inclusive, and radiate that Pride is for the entire LGBTI community.

Jul 2018       
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I turned fifty this month. On the morning of my birthday, I looked at myself in the mirror, saw some new crow’s feet around my eyes, and grabbed the framed family photograph that was made when my father turned fifty (in 1985) to compare myself to him.

Jul 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, The Belgian Pride of May 19 was held over a month ago. It was a pride that is memorable for several reasons. In the first place because of the Pride itself. For obscure reasons, the parade went through the narrow streets of Brussels’ centre.

Jul 2018       
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Just thirty minutes sailing from the former Dutch Antilles Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, you will find a president who not only lets his people starve, but also die from infectious diseases that are completely treatable, such as HIV.

Jul 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, It is time for the first media review of 2018, with quotes from well-known or lesser-known Belgians - whether or not GLBTQ - about (homo) sexuality in the broadest sense of the word, and recorded in Flemish media.

Jun 2018       
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Our Pride, which due to its special character is often forgotten to be named in the list of the largest and most important festivals in the Netherlands, has now received such national recognition. At the end of March, I received word that we were nominated for best public event in the Netherlands.

Jun 2018       
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As we all know, Amsterdam is seen as the “Gay Capital of Europe,” probably for being the capital of first country to legalize gay marriage, and it’s high tolerance to all types of sexualities. Although my plan of moving to the Venice of the North was unexpected, so far I have had great adventures and lots of fun.

Jun 2018       
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Last April it was fifteen years ago my father died at the age of sixty-eight. My father loved reading and my mother, a former nun. He also loved his children, which manifested itself mainly in the chores he did for them. Less in showing physical affection.

May 2018       
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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.

May 2018       
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Most of us will not have offspring. However, it is our duty to ensure that we can pass on the rainbow in all its bright colors to future generations. With this in mind, I have been taking part in the festival consultation with the municipality of Amsterdam regarding a new events policy since 2014.

May 2018       
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Spring Has Arrived! In February and March, we have welcomed new members of A.S.V.Gay, almost all attending our introduction weekend. The theme was “Gays in Space,” and so the program was filled with activities such as lightsaber fighting and landing on the moon. Our traditional beer relay was also scheduled, including bananas and biscuits, as well as our infamous “wild” evening.

May 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Through Facebook you read personal stories, outside of your circle of friends, for instance a shared appeal from a Fleming, a person in his fifties from the province of Antwerp. The man had met a man from West Africa a few years ago, his ideal husband and partner according to his post on Facebook. At his own expense he had the man come over to Belgium, in the hope and assumption that he would be able to marry him in no time.

May 2018       
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As Pride Amsterdam wants to be an open and attractive organization people are keen to join, I looked forward to the new and young faces in the hall during the kick-off of the twenty-third Canal Parade. At the same time I was gloomier than ever on stage.

Apr 2018       
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The municipal elections are just behind us. In my municipality, Zaanstad, sixteen parties participated for thirty-nine council seats. It was very difficult to make an informed choice. Not only am I confused, I am also split.

Apr 2018       
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Last year saw the thirtieth anniversary of the Homomonument, signifying that for three decades now, the call “Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen” (Such an endless desire for friendship) can be heard from the old centre of Amsterdam. In 1979, when the plans for the monument were just in the early stage, this line of poetry by Jacob Israël de Haan had already been used as the title of an anthology of Dutch homoerotic poetry.

Mar 2018       
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A.S.V.Gay’s first trip of the year! Last January, we went to Düsseldorf for a weekend with a group of about forty-five people. As this trip was in the form of a car rally, our destination was not known in advance. We only knew that the weekend’s theme would be “James Bond,” so naturally, most teams wore matching outfit.

Mar 2018       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, For a while, Flemish political TV journalist Boudewijn Van Spilbeeck became international news. This time as “Bo,” as of January 30th, Boudewijn is going through life as Bo. A remarkable story, especially if you have a lot of respect for Boudewijn’s long professional career and how he could keep this a secret for so long.

Mar 2018       
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I saw #ikbenhetzat (I’ve had enough) on the social media profiles of gay friends after a twenty-four-year-old gay man was beaten and robbed in Amsterdam.

Mar 2018       
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In awe, I was standing in front of a beautiful country house and looked again at the paper on which I had written down the address. Yes, the address was correct. “Just a minute...” I recognised Simon’s voice. He opened the door and said “Come in” with a big smile on his face. I entered a beautiful space. There were paintings on the walls, and there was a large crystal chandelier hanging in the middle of the room.

Mar 2018       
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In Belgium, the next municipal elections will take place on October 14. Perhaps not that important, you might think, but they will say something about the results of the next national elections in 2019. Left-wing versus right-wing (or vice-versa), just as in the Netherlands. There is no place in the elections for moderate opinions and election promises, even at a local and municipal level. The fight for a seat on the city council will be with boxing gloves on.

Feb 2018       
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It is a fact that people, especially the male population, spend less and less time reading. I find this incomprehensible. I myself do not feel comfortable when I am not tackling one or two books. How do people living in a bookless environment spend their time? Are they just sitting behind their computer or in front of the television?

Jan 2018       
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Those who follow the reports on the many accusations of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault must have experienced some mixed emotions. I don’t want to diminish the people who truly have had experienced something traumatic, for instance dealing with rape, but now, everything seems to be cross-border behavior.

Jan 2018       
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In Amsterdam on the night of November 20-21, two kissing women were assaulted in Amsterdam by a group of guys. The women, including Brazilian documentary filmmaker Denise Kelm Soares, were both in Amsterdam for the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA).

Jan 2018       
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It was the middle of the night. My father woke me up. “Come...,” he said, and lifted me out of my bed. I was six years old, and he carried me to my parents’ bedroom. I had no idea what was going on. My mother was sitting near the window that was open. She was sitting there with a blanked wrapped around her.

Dec 2017       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Believe it or not, 2017 is almost over. Time for the traditional review of articles published in the Flemish media in the second half of 2017, with homophobic and less homophobic statements by well-known and less well-known people.

Dec 2017       
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We have a new group of members each year. Students with different backgrounds, different studies, and with their own stories. Our student union has approximately 280 members.

Dec 2017       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Despite a busy work schedule, I always try to organize a little get-together with some friends during the week in Brussels. A moment to talk, to hear the latest gossip, to exchange ideas on politics, or learn something new.

Nov 2017       
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I was twenty-years-old, new in Amsterdam and looking for some nice people to hang out with. A student association sounded like a great plan. But an initiation where I would be yelled at about my incapable self and where I would have to stay standing for twelve long hours and then get applesauce in my hair? Nah...

Nov 2017       
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I ran into Johan at the Amstel Taveerne. “Are you here by yourself?,” I asked him. “Yes, tonight I am,” he said. “Nice to see you again. How have you been? You look great in that leather jacket. Want to go to my place? I don’t live far from here.” Well, I was certainly keen, but first I ordered us some more drinks. Two bar stools became available.

Nov 2017       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, The asylum and immigration crisis in Europe is not over by far. The distinction between refugees and economic or transit migrants may be quite clear on paper, but in practice it is quite complicated for officials to test the story of the refugee or migrant.

Nov 2017       
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With a few remaining beers running through my bloodstream and a light thumping feeling in my forehead, I look back at a successful night. The first open drink as the new chair of Amsterdam’s most fun GLBTQ+ student association, A.S.V.Gay, is an accomplished fact. The introduction period is in full swing. New members and everyone who is interested could get a first taste of our weekly drinks.

Oct 2017       
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Mark was very hairy, and we often met at the bar De Spijker. One night, we were at the bar with a pint. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of his chest hair. Big tufts came out of his shirt with two open buttons. “They often call me names,” Mark said. “I often hear such things as: ‘I have hedge-clippers at home.’ And so on.

Sep 2017       
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On Saturday morning, the 29th of July, while setting up in the rain, I was caught by a deeply sad feeling. It had been a difficult year full of obstacles and challenges, and that morning, everything seemed to fall through. I was soaked, but thankfully at one point the clouds dispersed, and the sun reappeared.

Sep 2017       
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“Don’t look! Don’t look yet.” Vincent poked me in the side. We were at the Monopole bar, popularly called “the moustache bin.” We all had a moustache in those days. But of course I did look. A hottie entered, with a very attractive face, a mischievous moustache, and in a tight jeans outfit. His shirt was wide open and showed an attractive hairy chest.

Aug 2017       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, Brussels, or should I say some over-zealous French-speaking and Brussels-based interest groups in the GLBTI community, want to organize EuroPride in our capital in 2020. Bringing the EuroPride to Belgium is a good idea, but the thought of organizing it in Brussels gives me the chills.

Aug 2017       
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“That guy looks like he has a nice package,” Cees said in a naughty way while he rubbed his mustache. Jaap and I had to laugh. “And...” Jaap asked when the boy came closer, “what’s your name?” “Govert,” the guy answered. “It’s my first time here. Nice to meet you.”

Jul 2017       
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Dear Neighbors to the North, In the summer recess, we will look back on the first six months of 2017, with statements in the media by well-known and lesser-known Belgians about homosexuality, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as recorded in the Flemish media.

Jul 2017       
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Although I do not know if there are any female readers of Gay News at all, I want to start with a “we’ve all been there.” It’s thirty degrees in the month of May. You’re really too busy to take it easy, but at thirty degrees Celsius you do not feel obliged to be active.

Jul 2017       
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Pride Amsterdam is the annual GLBTI festival to celebrate to be who you want to be, and to love who you want to love. Up to a year ago, this was self-evident for most straight journalists to such a degree, that to my chagrin, I was always asked whether a Pride in the Netherlands was still necessary.

Jul 2017       
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