Amsterdam Pride 2012 - Travel Journal

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Day 1

Having arrived to Schifol airport at midday, I missed the morning activities, but managed to join the group just in time for a tour promoted by the Amsterdam Museum, on which we learned a lot about the city history and also about the history of homossexuality in the city. After that, we went sightseeing under the guidance of the "gay map" of Amsterdam and the tutoring of professors and personnel from the museum. We visited 20 spots, including a gay book shops, a gay tour kioske,  the gay streets of Amsterdam, the memorial monument to the homosexuals mudered by the Nazi during World War II (Homomonument), as well as the cruising spots attended by gay people now and then. The museum lent us I-phones which were programmed to show the locations to be visited along with reading texts, audio files and videos about each and every spot. We were also followed up by Mr. Dick van Djik, from the Waag Society, and Mr. Gert Hekma, Professor of Gay and Lesbian Studies in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.

The whole programme (Jul 31st to Aug 5th) was supervised and supported by NL Agency and the Government Platform for LGBT rights in cooperation with many other people, including the Amsterdam Museum, the University of Amsterdam and several LGBT organizations.  


Amsterdam Museum (DNA Exhibition):
60 thousand: Number of people killed by the Nazi regime in Holland alone.



Amsterdam Museum (DNA Exhibiton):
The first gay couple to oficially get married in Netherlands. Holland was also the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in the world.



First Gay marriage in Holland: 01/04/2001



Countries in which same-sex marriage has already been approved by year.



Homomonument: Monument in memory of homosexuals murdered in the Nazi Holocaust .




Foreign visitors sponsored by NL Agency posing in front of a poster advertising the LGBT Pride in the Central Station of Amsterdam. The whole city looks forward to the Amsterdam Pride.



At night, we had dinner in a very gay-friendly restaurant where we discussed issues related to LGBT rights in Holland, Turkey and African and Asian countries. On the occasion, I also spoke a little about homophobia in Brazil as well as the achievement of some  LGBT rights, highlighting the government's recent publication of official numbers of homophobia crimes in 2011 in Brazil (finally!), the LGBT Reference Center of Rio de Janeiro, the work of the Coordination for Sexual Diversity in Rio, the federal-gonvernment-endorsement of  Dial 100 which offers support to the LGBT community nation-wide, the work of Gay Group of Bahia, the role of ABGLT (Brazilian Association of Gay, Lesbians, Transvestites and Transexuals) in Advocacy, the long-termed work of  Grupo Arco-Íris (Rainbow Group) in Rio, the engament of LiHS (Secular Humanist League of Brazil) and its LGBT Council, etc.



Although there is daylight, the photo was taken around 7 pm (summer time). During dinner at the Hemelse modder, we were introduced to some Turkish activists who have been making a documentary about Turkish LGBT people.


It was a great day!


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Facility where the conference took place.
It is called Open Bare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (photo Flickr)



One of the sessions attended during the 4th Alms Conference (LGBTI Alms 2012 - The Future of LGBTI Histories) was all about archives and the preservation of LGBTIQ history. Experts from different parts of the world spoke about what their institutions have been doing in the field. I had the priviledge of hearing Karen Sundheim, from the Public Library of San Francisco, California; Don McLeod, from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in  Toronto; Angela Brinskele and Jamey Fitzpatrick from Mazer Lesbian Archives, USA; Péter Hanzil, from  Háttér Support Society for LGBT People, Hungary; Brenda Marston from the Human Sexuality Collection of the Cornell University, EUA; and Idil Engindeniz, from Chaos GL, Turkey.

Generally speaking, those experts lectured on the importance of the LGBT archives in libraries and research centers, as well as the challenge to gather all that material, catalogue it, digitalize it and make it available to everyone, especially through the internet. They also spoke of the importance of the LGBTIQ history conservation both for the self-esteem of the community and for the fight for civil rights, being also relevant to a wider comprehension of human sexuality itself.

After the morning session, we visited a photo exhibition about LGBT people. Besides the photos themselves, there were some very touching statements on show:

How much more will you still make me suffer? (about homophobia); 

 What makes you think you are special? (about prejudice against LGBT);

Isn't it enough to be gay? Couldn't you just be an ordinary gay? (about transphpobia), etc.

There were also photos of homoparental families (two dads or two moms), frank distribution of newspapers, maganizes, folders and other prints focusing on several aspects of sexual and gender diversity. There was also a section with books that could be handled, being available for purchase at an LGBT bookshop (Vrolijk) in town.

One of the pieces that caught my attention due to its witty, fun character was the gay version of Monopoly: "Homonopolis", which plays with sexual diversity and sexuality itself.




Homonopolis board in exhibition at the Open Bare Bibliotheek Amsterdam



After the appointment with LGBTI Alms 2012, we went for a meeting with three young activists who have been working with  Expreszo. They shared information about the creation of the magazine in 1988 and its site in 1999. They explained the role of the organization in the promotion of LGBT citizenship amongst youngsters, including a Youth Forum through which they interact with each other on several issues related to sexuality, gender identity, culture, rights, etc., without having to share real names or other personal data - which protects those who can still undergo some kind of restiction at home or at work.



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In the middle, the ex-secretary and the ex-chairman of Expreszo, Mr. Benjamin van Es. They have just left the job because of the age limit: 26 years old.




Bregje Korteweg (our hostess) and the new chairman of Expreszo, Mr. Mark Reichwein



Currently, Expreszo has 3,500 young members and a totals of 2,500 participants in the online forums.

Another curiosity is that the LGBT community of Holland receives support from early years. For teenagers at 14 and above, there is an organization, whose name in Dutch means "Youth Out of the Closet". When they are over 18, they migrate to Expreszo. And when they become 26, they are absorbed by COC, the most well-known LGBT organization in Holland.

Although inclusive in many ways, the Netherlands still need to get rid of some laws such as one that forbis teachers (and students!) from "doing gay". They can be gay, but not do gay.... :0 Teachers can be fired and students can be explused. It hardly ever happens, but the law is still there. 

In the afternoon, I was interviewed by André Fischer and Pétria Chaves (from CBN Mix Brasil - a renownd radio station in Brazil) about the events related to Gay Pride in Holland this week.  

Around 7 pm this Thursday, there was the Gay Pride at HomomonumentIt which preceds the Canal Parade (Saturday). 


Gay Pride at Homomonument. 



Gay Pride at Homomonuent




Authorities and activists who spoke at the opening of Gay Pride at Homomonument preparing to blow up confetti in the air.


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Our first official appointment was with the Dutch Transgender Network and Transvisie, which is an organization dedicated to transgender and/or transexual people. Thomas Wormgoor, himself a transman and coordinator of the organization, gave us an excellent overview of the fight for transexual and transgender rights, including the transexualization operation, which still takes a long time to be done (5 years average).  


 Thomaz and Corine sitting on the left, in the middle. He is a transman and she is a tranwoman.

The Dutch Transgender Network and Transvisie office operates on the 7th floor of this building.


Thomaz also gave us some precious information about children and youngsters who are transgender/transexual. For instance, up to 16 years old, the transgender child canot receive hormones to modify theirs bodies, but they can have the hormonal process interrupted with prescribed medicine. Thus, the transgirl does not grow hair and the transboy does not grow breasts. From 16 on, they will receive hormones according to the gender they identify with.After becoming 18, they can go through the transexualization operation if they feel like doing so. The bad news is that they must become infertile first. To spare future frustration due to not being able to have children, they can save their reproductive cells for later use.

Thomaz also spoke about other aspects of transexuality and shared a lot about his own experience. Obviously, I had the chance to talk about João W. Nery, author of "Lonely Journey" (the title has been translated from Viagem Solitária for the purpose of this post). I spoke about his pioneeiring at a time when transexualization operations where not available in the public health system of Brazil. Fortunately, it is already possible to have the operation perfomed for free in Brazil nowadays. 

I also told Thomaz about the TransMen Foundation (FTM Brasil) inaugurated in São Paulo recently and he was very enthusiastic about it. 

Corine Van Dun, transwoan, who has two children and went through the transexualization process when they were 3 years old (the son) and 1 year old (the daughter), gave us a very good speech too. Her sons are now 29 and 27, respectively. Corine is the director of  the Dutch Transgender Network and Transvisie , providing assistence to transgender people in transition.



Corine showed us this film "Ik Be Een Meisje!" (I am a girl)


After that meeting, we had lunch with Wielie Elhorst, youth minister and senior youthworker for the National Office of the Protestant Church in The Netherlands. He is a theologian getting a PhD in religious education in the church. In his free time he is the chairman of LKP, the umbrella organization of the Chistian LGBT movement in The Netherlands. The LKP was founded in 1987 and was the runner up organization of the Centrale Pastorale Werkgroep Homofilie. The latter group was the result of the work of pioneering grassroots inclusive theologians in the 1960s such as Rev. Alje Klamer, Rev. Martin Brussaard, and Father Padre Joop Gottschalk. After the ground breaking work of the pastors LGBT Christians took matters in their own hands from the mid 1980s.


Wielie Elhorst, introducing LKP, standing. On the left, Vilma Gabrieliute Laima Vaige from the House of Diversity and Education, Lithuania; and Eelste Abels from Gale (NL) and UEEH (France)


I asked about hate speech by pastors or priests in Holland, but he told me that it does not exist, although there might be some subtile discrimination in some parishes. 

About the so-called "gay therapy", I asked what their experience was. He told me that once there was a health insurance plan that sponsored that kind of procedure, but it went bankrupt when people came across they had been doing so. Nowadays, there is no funding for those 'professionals' and Exodus itself speaks about the supposed "change" on different grounds.

After the Thelogian's exposition, we were introduced to an organization whose objective is to support LGBT from Muslim countries who immigrate to Amsterdam due to homophobia and life danger. That organization is named Secret Garden and is directed by Emir Belatoyi, from Algeria.  In the organization's office, there was a photo exhibition related to LGBT Muslim immigrants. We also watched some short films about the issue and listened to Emir about the work done by the Secret Garden. We could ask questions and share experiences.




Exposition showing LGBT people from Muslim countries. This is the gay section, but there are two other sections: lesbian and transgender.



Thanks to the efforts of these activists, people who arrive to Holland due to homophobia in their countries will find support and come across they have rights.


For the purpose of giving more visibility to LGBT in Muslim countries, the Turkish LGBT community living in Amsterdam will celebrate Amsterdam Pride on an exclusive boat in the Canal Parade (Saturday). The press has been talking about it enthusiastically even before it takes place.






A newspaper report about the Turkish boat in the Canal Parade. Turkey's flag was given rainbow colors in the background




Secret Garden: the organization that supports LGBT who emigrate from Muslim countries




This tower is the headquarter of the Secret Garden



At 5 pm, we watched a documentary named "Our Story - a 10-year Guerrilla", which is about the history of STH Benjin Queer Festival. The session and debate panel took place in De Balie, a charming huge building in the center of Amsterdam.




The panel was composed by Stijn Declerck, programmer of the Beijin Queer Film Festival; Jane Remme from Mama Cash and from Equal Ground; Saskia Wieringa, Professor of Same-sex People Relationships Crossculturally, UvA (University of 
Amsterdam); and Dan Yang, M.A. in Film Studies and International Performance Research.






From the right to the left: Stijn Declerck, Jane Remme, Saskia Wieringa, Dan Yang, and the clever moderator whose name I will be owing you.



The Beijin Queer Festival is going to its 6th edition in 2013, which stroke me as a surprise because the Chines governament is usually strict on homosexuality. It would be hard to say why they ignore the festival, despite its high popularity amongst LGBT themselves as well as sympathizers. Anyway, the festival is eventually a statement by the Chinese LGBT people: "We are here and we want queer movies", says Dan Yang.



Professor Saskia Wieringa also called attention to another paradox: According to the Chinese law, nobody is allowed to "advertise" or "broadcast" anything with gay content. However, China is the biggest producer of "sex toys", being most of them meant to homosexual men and women. And the reason why that consumption takes place is because there is a consumer. ;)



Another paradox brought up by the law which bans any broadcasting of gay content is the Shanghai Pride, which is held indoors as it can't take place outdoors.



To learn more about the Queer Film Festival of China, access: 






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Actually, the event people most look forward to is the Canal Parade, which crosses the city through the canals and spread the rainbow colors all over the city at the beat of festive music and LGBT-like decoration. It is not restrict to a neighborhood or avenue. Amsterdam geographic conditions allow people to see the parade from many different spots: alongside the canals, on the bridges, in the buildings and in home boats.


The population does not show up alone. Governmental authorities and representatives of several institutions actively take part in the event.



More than 80 boats parade, including one from the Ministry of Defense, which takes people from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Military Police, Fire Department, etc. The highest rank on the boat was of the General Seretary of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. A.H.C. Annink, who is immediately connected to the Minister. Several other important people attended the event.



Below you will find photos and interviews related to the event.





Boat of the Ministry of Defennse



In a black polo shirt, amongst people in uniform, the second highest position in the Ministry of Defense: the General Secretary, Mr. A.H.C. Annink




At the trompet's comand, everybody formed to salute the expectators. When we rested, confetti was blown up by a canon.




Expectators watching the Boat Parade and the boat of the Ministry of Defense




Drag Queens e men in trunks on the same boat. :)




Expectators on one of the briges over the canal




Expectators celebrating from their balconies.




Westerkerk Church - the same that comforted Anne Frank when she was hiding from the Nazi - displayed a long rainbow flag to support the LGBT community.




The Jewish community also attended and showed their support.


After the Canal Parade, we were offered a cocktail reception in which several important personalities talked over LGBT issues in Holland and in the world. Some of them were Mr. Sjrdan Dragojeuic, renowned filmmaker from Serbia; Mr. Boris Dietrich, former MP, now with Human Rights Watch; and the Norwegian Embassador.

A special word of gratefulness to Mr. A. (Amin) Michel, Founder and chairman Dutch Government Pride Platform, Senior Managing Consultant Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Postbus 649
3446 AP Woerden
THE NETHERLANDS



 SOME VERY INTERESTING INTERVIEWS ARE ON THE WAY. CHECK IT OUT LATER.

MEANWHILE, ENJOY MORE PHOTOS!!! :)


 By my side, Ms Mees Soffer




 Fire Department Officials



 Ms Sabrina Waltmans, economic editor



 Mr Amin Michel and Mr. A.H.C. Annink, General Secretary






American military representing OutServe: The Association of Actively Serving LGBT Military Personnel











Emanuel Silva, my husband, sided by officials on the boat



 Not even the rain stopped people from joining the celebration. It was a quick drizzle, though.



 Ms Ingeberg Takken, Colonel, head of Humanistic Chaplaincy





Inspiring and informative speeches during the cocktail reception





Mr. Boris Dittrich, former M.P., now with Human Rights Watch





CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS BY DA HUANG, A DEAR CHINESE FELLOW WHO WAS IN THE SAME GROUP OF BLOGGER AND VLOGGERS AS ME:


The second video quality is higher, but watch both of them please. :)







For people accessing the Internet from China, the videos recorded by Sergio Viula and Emanuel Silva before and after the Canal Parade are available on You-Ku. 

Click here, please: 




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