I went down to Prinsengracht on Saturday and took photos of the boats in the Gay Pride Canal Parade. Lots of great performers this year, and very enthusiastic crowds. Followed by parties across the city, this is something Amsterdam celebrates. Here are some highlights from the parade, there’s also a video taken from near the end of the parade.
The basics are; performers on boats going along Prinsengracht, starting at the Haarlemmerstraat end at about 1.30pm. Crowds lining the canals to cheer their support.
Businesses around town show their support, often using the rainbow symbol. This is from SeeMe on Haarlemmerstraat.
Gay Pride is celebrated with a canal parade in Amsterdam, so yesterday 80 boats, with 50-100 performers on each, sailed slowly along Prinsengracht. Through the cheers of thousands of Amsterdammers and visitors to the city.
It really is a fantastic atmosphere, the crowd is supportive, lots of people wearing pink or carrying a rainbow flags. It’s an event for everyone, every age group, and some make it a family day out. It was sunny and warm yesterday so it was like a city-wide street party. I watched the parade for a while, perched in the crowd. On a boat near me was a group of lesbians, with their children. Gay marriage has been legal here for 12 years, so all of their lifetime.
Each boat represents a different organisation, there are gay bars and gay rights organisations, various companies – vodafone, ING, Akzo Nobel, and government organisations – the tax department featured this year. The military have had a boat in the parade the last few years, everyone is in uniform and saluting the crowd, always gets a huge cheer.
The gay rights issue that gets the most media coverage is gay marriage, particularly in relation to the US or the church in the UK. But a couple of boats reminded everyone that there are other, more serious issues. On this boat participants carried signs saying “er is nog veel voor te vechten” (there is still a lot to fight for). Some carried the Russian flag in “honour” of Russia’s anti gay legislation – holding a similar parade is illegal in Russia. More seriously, some banners pointed out that homosexuality remains a criminal offence in 76 countries, and that includes the death penalty in some.
In the global sense there still is a lot to fight for, but we’ve come a long way in my lifetime. When I was at university the fight was to change the law and stop homosexuality being a crime, when I lived in Australia Tasmanian gays were trying to get the (unenforced) anti sodomy law changed by going into police stations and confessing – while the rest of Australia boycotted Tasmanian products. And it’s only fifteen years ago that Ellen Degeneres’ show was dropped when her character came out, now she hosts a talk show where she talks openly about her life and her wife.
So yesterday was mostly about celebrating the freedoms we have in this country. If you missed the parade, or you view was blocked by a large man with a bald head. You can see the whole thing on YouTube.
The route was marked with rainbow banners a week ago, and events started earlier this week. One of my favourite events is the Drag Queen Olympics, happening tonight at the Homo-monument. It includes the hilarious handbag toss.
But the pinnacle of the week is the Parade tomorrow when 80 boats will go through the Prinsengracht to the Amstel, then along the Oudeschans. The full route is on the site.
The parade is hugely popular with gays and straights; it’s always a great spectacle with music, dancing, feather boas and masses of body glitter. There are usually also at least a couple of boats with a more political message – reminding us that not all countries are as fair and open about homosexuality as the Netherlands.
Today was Amsterdam’s gay pride parade – which takes place on boats along the Prinsengracht. It’s always a great show, and crowds turn out to watch. I couldn’t stay long today, but I managed to get a few photos (and completely soaked).
Today is World Aids Day, a day dedicated to commemorating those who have died, and acknowledging the progress made in treating the disease. There have been vigils, community outreach, promotions and all sorts across the world.
Of course there have also been activities in Amsterdam, a city sometimes cited as the “gay capital of the world”. Before anyone shouts that AIDs is not a gay disease, I know, however it’s a disease that initially had a high impact in gay circles, and may still have a higher impact there than in the straight community in western countries.
So of course Amsterdam had to do something special, some thing big… they did, they put a condom on the Munttoren, a 35m condom. It got photo of the day in one of the city’s newspapers Het Parool.
You can also see the official er, unrolling on youtube, along with interviews with young men talking about their first time and their experience with condoms. Gotta love the open nature of Dutch culture!
image from the World Aids Day website/presskit
It’s Gay Week in Amsterdam, there are events all over town for whatever might appeal; exhibitions, parties, and hepatitis vaccinations. One of the more flamboyant of the events is the Drag Queen Olympics, featuring the Stiletto Sprint and the Handbag Throw.
The grande finale event is this Saturday there will be a big gay pride parade on boats going around the Prinsengracht. It’s always a lot of fun, the canal is lined with Amsterdammers and visitors to the city all supporting the parade. It’s a fun event, but not without controversy. Some Christian groups in the country don’t support it, and some gays resent the very narrow lifestyle represented on the boats.
However on the whole it’s a celebration, and I’m looking forward to it. The only problem this year is that rain is predicted – so it could be soggy feather boas and sequins in the canal.