Saturday, 6 August 2011

It's Gay Pride Time!

Canal Parade 2010

Happy Gay Pride everyone!

Today it's party time in Amsterdam, with the the yearly Canal Parade, the culmination of the Amsterdam Gay Pride week. Almost a hundred colourful little and big boats (floats) with GLBT and straight people 'parade' through the canals of Amsterdam. And for one day only our capital is once again the Gay Capital of Europe.

The Canal Parade is one of the biggest outdoor events of Amsterdam.
This celebration of diversity is one big outdoor party and everyone is invited. You wouldn't believe how many straight families visit Amsterdam on the first Saturday in August to join in the fun. And why not? The Canal Parade is great - and for the most part clean - fun!

Oh, I know the media make out as if every boat is filled from top to bottom (heh) with naked guys, but that is a big fat lie.
Yes, some some boats are decidedly sexy. It takes all kinds <shrug>. And if people want to go wild for just one day a year, I say: "Go for it!" (remember these topless guys are really toned and very easy on the eyes).
Besides, there is much more naked flesh on display at the yearly Summer Carnival in Rotterdam, but somehow nobody complains about that. I hate subtle homophobia like that.

Watching all the boats go by can be quite emotional. It's like watching the history of the Dutch gay rights movement being acted out before your very eyes.

I'm always happy when I see a company pride boat. It's a public declaration that gay bullying won't be tolerated in that company.
This year V&D (a large department store), PostNL (Dutch Mail), ING Bank (our biggest bank), Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Rail), the Dutch Police, newcomers Department of Defence and many others all participate with a company pride boat. Yay!

It took ages before members of the Dutch armed forces were allowed to participate in uniform, but a few years ago it finally happened. I had to blink away tears when I spotted them in the boat of the Dutch Police (they weren't allowed to put up their own float back then), waving enthusiastically, taking it all in. That was a huge step forward. And this year they even have their very own float!

And finally there are the boats of the human rights groups, reminding everyone how blessed we are over here because we are free to organise an event like the Amsterdam Gay Pride. There are far too many places in the world, some of them close by, where gays and lesbians are fired from their jobs, put out of their houses, threatened with violence or even put in jail for being who they are. Let's keep working to change all that.

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