Take Pride

Today was a festival of feathers, glitter and iconic music in celebration of gay pride in Amsterdam. The participants make something like the traditional floats of other parades, but in this case they floats really do float – they’re made on boats and the whole parade takes place on water, specifically looping around the Prinsengracht.
There’s a party atmosphere, as regular Amsterdammers line Prinsengracht to support the gay pride and wave to friends on the boats. All sorts of organisations were represented this year; non-profits, gay-friendly bars, Dutch corporates. Even the UN had a float entitled “the United Nations of Love”, the crew had khakis, dogtags and blue helmets, and were doing suggestive things with waterhoses. I couldn’t help thinking these are just the guys to sort out any problems in Iraq.
Most of the floats are fun, put there are a couple with a political sting, reminding us that it’s not all music and laughter in Gay-Land. One float reminded everone – rather graphically – about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Another was dedicated to the AIDS foundation, and had a small boat with people collecting donations in large condoms held out on a stick like fishing nets. In a timely reminder (there will be a Dutch election this year) another float featured Dutch politicians with their quoted homophobic or ignorant comments relating to issues around homosexuality. The photo at right shows one of them, Rita Verdonk, Minister of Immigration, with a placard relating to a refugee application from a gay Iranian; “Iran is safe for gays, therefore, deport him”.

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