Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

EuroPride 2016, The Party Is Almost Over…

Yesterday was the main event of EuroPride2016, our world-famous Canal Parade. I didn’t make photos, others have better equipment and a more steady hand than I do. Below you find some impressions and on Facebook you’ll find another 595+ photos…

May 5, 71 years later

embrace-freedom-vrijheid-geef-je-door-hajo_de_reijger

The Netherlands is the only country in Europe that commemorates the victims of the Second World War and celebrates its liberation on two separate but consecutive days. We remember the Dutch victims of wartime violence on May 4, and on May 5 we celebrate our freedom.

The fact that the Netherlands observes Remembrance Day and celebrates Liberation Day, the day on which the German army capitulated, on two separate days is primarily the result of the strong influence that former members of the resistance had in Dutch society directly after the Second World War. The Dutch resistance had already gained considerable authority during the war. After the country had been liberated, the former resistance was relatively well organized and prominently represented in government circles. The most important reason why the national commemoration of Remembrance Day takes place on May 4 and not on May 5 is that directly after the Second World War, both the survivors and the bereaved in the former resistance circles found it inappropriate to mourn the victims of war and to celebrate the liberation on the same day. In their view, the emotions that went along with both sets of memories were incompatible. As the Netherlands had not played an active role in the First World War, the country did not already have a tradition of commemoration in the mid-1940s. Whereas most other European countries had commemoration traditions of a military character stemming from the First World War, the Netherlands was free to commemorate and celebrate in its own distinct manner.

The Dutch tradition of remembrance and celebration that developed in response to the Second World War had a primarily local character. In all Dutch cities and villages, local committees, organizations, associations or municipal officials organize a remembrance ceremony on May 4 or on another day in connection with the local war history and on May 5 there is often a celebration in honor of the liberation and freedom. In addition to all the local groups, there are also numerous other organizations in the Netherlands founded by people who have been affected by wars. They often organize their own ceremonies of remembrance in connection with various different historical events. For example commemorations are organized in reference to (the liberation of) various extermination and concentration camps, such as those in Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Ravensbruck, where Dutch citizens were killed. While other gatherings commemorate specific events such as the bombardment of Rotterdam or the massive razzias in Putten, in the northeast of the Netherlands. The Netherlands also commemorates the war in its former colony the Dutch East Indies and the end of the Second World War on August 15. And each year the Auschwitz Committee organizes the Holocaust/Auschwitz commemoration on the last Sunday in January.

So besides May 4 and 5, there are over 40 other occasions throughout the year when victims are remembered and survivors and people concerned get together to commemorate. All these different experiences and stories converge on May 4. On that day, at 8pm, the entire country – including those who experienced the war first hand and everyone else who recognizes the civic importance of remembering – commemorates the victims of wartime violence in silence.

Unique Location, Extremely Normal Exhibition

okerk_1-wooden-roofThe red light district of town is not an area I normally frequent, but by visiting the 800 year old Oude Kerk [“old church”] which is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church, I like to make a change to my habits. It was founded ca. 1213 and finally consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. After the Reformation in 1578 it became a Calvinist church, which it remains today.

I wasn’t here for the building, which is a looker by the way, but the opening of the Pride Photo Award 2013 exhibition. I’m glad to live in a city where Freedom of Speech is normal, where a unique location can be used to show tourists, this is the red light district after all, not only the gravesite of Saskia van Uylenburgh [wife of Rembrandt], but also a unique photo expo.

logo210This years theme is: Extremely Normal, and it shows GLBT people from around the world in their normal habitat. From 48 different nations some 3,300 photos were send in on this subject, and an international jury made a selection out of them. After several speeches, Councillor Andree van Es, who manages portfolios of Work, Income and Participation, Citizenship and Diversity and Administrative System for the City of Amsterdam, opened the expo.

For all those Amsterdam people who don’t visit this location in the Oude Kerk, several of the photos can be seen around town on squares, in shopping malls and other places that attract many people.

Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013

Below you can see the photos I took during the Canal Parade and afterwards on Zeedijk, near the oldest Gay bar [1927] in Amsterdam!
There were floats from the Dutch government, including ministers, the Defense Department, the boys and girls in Blue [police], but also the Royal Dutch Soccer Association with players and officials. Next to them big companies, advertisers, bars, political parties and many, many people who had just fun. Over half a million visitors saw the 80 floats passing along the canal and river Amstel. Two of the last photos are from the Skinny Bridge over the river and a seal, who took a wrong turn, swimming in that Amstel river. But of course the first one is of the Westertoren [tower] part of the Westerkerk [church] showing its True Colors.

Canal Parade – Gay Pride 2012

Okay, we didn’t let the rain get us down, in between the showers it was quit sunny and warm. Below are 139 photos by myself and the last 22 come from other photographers I found on a news site.

On my way down to the ferry I could hear the music and I was still two miles from the harbour. Both Corrie and I were wearing a “This Season Go Gay” button. And the D & G doesn’t stand for that famous Italian fashion brand but for Dikes & Girls.

The theme this year was: On The Move

Just click one and a new window will open so you can scroll through them. Enjoy!

I Have A Dream!

I wanted to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King
A man who made a positive difference for all humanity

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Spiritual and Civil Rights Leader

Dr. King’s famous speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
47 years ago in Washington DC on August 28, 1963.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Missed Out… But Still Proud!

On August 1, Gay Pride started here in Amsterdam. The first event was Grey Pride for older Gays and Lesbians, a forgotten group of people. Sometimes I wonder if you’re older [30+], not as trim [6-pack] or have the right haircut, or feel at home in a scene [bears] that you’re out, over the hill, written off. And yes, I’m grey, older, no 6-pack [unless you count the beer] and I don’t feel at home in a certain scene…

I had hoped to go, last Thursday night, to the open air cinema on Nieuwmarkt for the Gay movie, and last night for the Lesbian, but that didn’t happen for obvious reasons. [read the post before this one]. Same goes for today, we, Corrie my friend/neighbor and I had planned our spot along Prinsengracht in advance, including what to bring in our picnic basket [most was liquid, but I always bring something to eat with me too]. But now we both will sit at home on the couch watching the Parade on local TV. I for the reasons given earlier and she because she almost broke two toes and is working on the refurbishing of her own home. [As a Lesbian she’s very good in painting, not as good in electrical stuff, but neither am I].

The white wine is in the fridge, and the food too! We spray-paint Julius in pink [of course NOT!] and have our own little party.