This year from the 26th of July the LGBT activities started with a big closing party at Rembrandtplein on the 3rd of August. Pink In Our lives on tour was there only last weekend for the Gay Canal Parade on Saturday and the closing party. And let me tell you we had a great time this year again like the years before. This year I was invited on the boat for OutTv through my boyfriend, who works for them as one of the reporters for the Flemish region in Belgium. They rebranded the network with a new logo and signature colors, so we all were wearing “VIRGIN” white (LOL) and purple accents. The boat was filled with the OutTV presenters, celebrities, The Dutch Diana Ross, go-go dancers, The Rozettes and many more. With great beats and drinks off course the people on the boat got crazy, but it made the spectators who came to watch parade go wild too!!!
Amsterdam Pride is a citywide gay-festival held annually at the center of Amsterdam during the first weekend of August. The festival attracts several hundred-thousand visitors each year and makes it one of the largest publicly held annual events in the Netherlands. Amsterdam Pride was originally organized in 1996. The peak of the festival is during the canal parade, a parade of boats of large variety on the first Saturday of August, which usually goes from Westerdok over the Prinsengracht, Amstel river and then to finish at the Oosterdok. The centre of the parties and concerts during the festival is the Rembrandtplein and during the festival there are many activities in the surrounding area. Each year they have a theme and the theme of 2014 was LISTEN: “LISTEN to each other, try to understand what the other person says and means and show understanding. But also LISTEN to yourself and follow your heart! LISTEN and be creative”.
To keep the good name and reputation of Amsterdam as a gay heaven the Amsterdam Pride was held for the first time in 1996. This was conceived and organized by Gay Business Amsterdam (GBA) led by Siep de Haan. Unlike Gay Pride Parades elsewhere in the world, this Pride wasn’t intended as a demonstration or protest in Amsterdam, but purely as a feast to celebrate freedom and diversity. The event was called for that reason “Amsterdam Pride”, all though they spoke soon more from “Gay Pride” or simply “The Pride”. To distinguish it from other big cities they had chosen for the Amsterdam Pride a parade of boats on the canals, instead of the usual parades with decorated floats elsewhere. The idea for a parade came in 1992, as an attempt to get the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998, but started already two years earlier.
In 2006 the ProGay foundation headed by Frank van Dalen took over the organization of the boat parade at the last moment. In addition ProGay took over the central coordination and marketing of all other Gay Pride activities in the city of Amsterdam. In the beginning of 2013 for the Amsterdam Gay Pride (AGP) designed a new logo consisting of stylized letters A, G and P with round shapes and colors that refer to the rainbow flag. The Amsterdam Gay Pride these days takes more than a week and includes dozens of diverse activities spread across the entire city. From the beginning on Friday and Saturday several larger and smaller festivals are held, both in bars and clubs, and outside on the street in the famous gay nightlife streets like Reguliersdwarsstraat, Seawall and along the Amstel River. In addition there are sports and cultural activities and you can attend on a Sunday morning a special PINK Church service. On Sunday afternoon and evening there is finally an information market and a big closing party. Till 2010 the square at the Stopera has been the place for this big Pride Finale and nowadays it has been on the Rembrandt square.
The visitors for the Gay Canal Parade has evolved over the years growing to several hundred thousand enthusiastic spectators. The boat parade attracted in 2009 a record number of more than 560,000 spectators along the Prinsengracht and Amstel, 15% more than the year before. This is one of the largest outdoor events of Amsterdam and the busiest event for gay men and lesbians in the Netherlands. In the United States, the Amsterdam Gay Pride was even named the Best Gay Pride Celebration in Europe in 2008. In the 19th edition of the Canal Parade on August 2, 2014 the number of visitors was estimated at about 300,000. Canal Pride was 45 minutes earlier to start because of the expected severe weather conditions. During the tour it was raining, but bad weather held off.
The parade of 80 boats was opened with a boat called AIDS Fund. More than two weeks earlier in the disaster of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 employees of this organization and AIDS researchers perished and were hereby commemorated. This had a huge impact on the crowd and people gave their respect by a honorary silence and solidarity. After some distance from this first boat the festive boats came and they were led by a boat from the city of Amsterdam with a dancing Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on it. This year there were also some other firsts for the Gay Canal Parade; the most notable were the Moroccan boat and the American boat. Also entering (again) a Jewish boat along. The Moroccan boat was designed to break the taboo about Homosexuality among Moroccans. The American boat drew attention to gay marriage in the United States. The Academic Medical Center had a so-called ‘donor boat. The hospital started an information campaign for the recruitment of egg donors, which is a big shortage. Furthermore, there were many boats of various organizations that bring their activities to the attention of and sponsoring companies. Two winners of the Eurovision Song Contest perform with Dana International from Israel and Conchita Wurst from Austria on different boats.
The ambassadors of this year’s Amsterdam Pride were Dragqueen Lady Galore, Siep de Haan (above mentioned) and Sjeazy Pearl (Winner Beauty & The Beat contest 2013).Sjeazy Pearl tells why she is one of the ambassadors: “Homosexuality is taboo in my culture. But I decided that others should accept what I am. If I still hear comments that I will burn in hell, do not touch me this me . theme Listen written me like a glove. Listen to your heart, which is always right and the path to your happiness. Through my tough coming out, I know how it is when you let the family down. I want people listening to their loved one who is “different”. good question, because without the support of loved ones is the lack of understanding towards homosexuality us even harder. your nature is after all only a small part of who you are.”
If you want to visit Amsterdam in 2015, try to be here around this period. It doesn’t matter if you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you will definitely have a blast. This kind of event you will find nowhere else!!! To get an impression of how it was like, check out our pictures on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/pinkinourlives ;o)