Amsterdam is a landmark and the birthplace of LGBT rights: homosexuality was decriminalized here in 1811 and the first gay bar established early in 1927. No surprise that The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.
This is why Amsterdam Gay Pride is one of the biggest and best celebrations of its kind around the globe. It was organized for the first time in 1996 and it traditionally takes place around the first weekend of August every year. The city is a rainbow of events from dance parties to film festivals, sporting events, culture and more. But its main highlight is the Canal Parade, where tens of boats from different companies and organizations parade in front of a huge crowd to show their support for the LGBT cause. But before we take a look at the colorful pictures, I’ll let my colleague Maximiliano Pin, a participant at the Parade in the ING Boat, to tell you more about the event:
What does it mean for you to participate at the event?
On the one hand, I’m proud to work for an organization that encourages employees to be themselves, especially at the workplace. The fact that there’s a boat sponsored by the company in the Canal Parade makes a strong statement about who we are as an organization and how people are welcomed to work here. On the other hand, I receive so much energy being onboard the boat from the people watching it along the canals. It’s a great celebration where you see people from all ages, families with kids, everyone enjoying it in a nice atmosphere.
What does the event symbolize for you?
Many people question the need for a Gay Pride event in Amsterdam, given the long tradition of the city towards respect, diversity and existing rights for the LGBT community. However, being the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam has a responsibility to keep reminding people of the need for equal rights and non-discrimination, as in other parts of the country gays still cannot be open about their sexuality. Furthermore, Amsterdam Gay Pride is one of the most popular in the world with thousands of foreigners visiting it. That’s why it has also been a platform to support causes in other countries where local LGBT organizations are limited.
How many participants are this year and how does it compare with the last years?
Gay Pride Amsterdam is celebrated from 26 July until 3 August, including several activities throughout the city, such as themed movies, art and literature cafes, exhibitions, round tables on LGBT topics, and of course parties. One of the main highlights is the well-known Canal Parade along Prinsengracht. Although normally more than 150 boats register to be part of it, there are 80 boats selected every year. In the 2013 edition there were more than 300.000 visitors in the canals watching the parade and this year seems more promising.
Can you tell us something about this year’s theme? How was it chosen?
This year’s Gay Pride theme is “Listen”. The organizing committee chose it as they argued that it is very important to listen to each other to understand what we have to say. But also to listen to yourself, to follow your inner compass.
How much rehearsal time did you spend?
Our boat is one of the few that has a dance with choreography. A key aspect is that nobody is a professional dancer but regular employees. We all put a lot of effort because we want to deliver a great show. We had 4 rehearsals of 2 hours each. They took place once per week in the evening during July in a dance studio.
What would be your message for the people in the countries that cannot have that event yet (for political, cultural reasons)?
Today we still see discrimination due to sexual orientation in many countries in the world, in some cases even to the point of being illegal to be gay and punished with imprisonment or death penalty. You have to never lose hope and always fight for who you are. It can certainly not be easy but looking for people that share your same beliefs and values can help you start a movement. History has demonstrated that a joint effort is more powerful than any law. Reach out to existing LGBT organization in your community or even abroad. We can all make a difference!
And now let’s look at some of the pictures, because everybody was there!
Dana International and Conchita, the two famous transgender to won Eurovision competition, were stars of the show.
A lot of big companies were there as well, starting with the company that I work for: ING Insurance.
Political parties were there.
Gladiators were there
Of course drag queens could not miss the show.
Same goes for the S&M community. You gotta love the hard core boys!
And by far my favorites:
There were social messages as well, protesting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
We even had some impressive water stunts.
But in the end, it comes down to one thing: love. And the way we feel love is not different, no matter whom we love.
This is why I also believe that Jesus does love us all.
And this is just because I liked the guy 🙂. Hell, aren’t we all fallen angels?