The Amsterdam Gay Pride, or EuroPride bursts out in the last week of July in Amsterdam in 2018 and lasts for 9 days. Culmination is of course the typical Amsterdam version of the famous gay parade on the canals on August 4. Instead of wagons, the extrovert gay community put themselves proudly on display on boats that sail through the Amsterdam canals, while the crowd, standing on bridges and along the canals, cheer them on.
Gay capital of the world
Every year, Pride Amsterdam celebrate the freedom that people can be who they want to be and love who they want to love. After King’s Day in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Gay Pride is the biggest event in Amsterdam. Half a million people are expected to join in the fun. The city’s reputation of being Gay capital of the world is severely tested as hundreds of thousands of people flood the city.
The Amsterdam Gay Parade week starts with a manifestation at the Gay Monument on the Amsterdam Westermarkt (Next to Westerkerk) on July 28. From Westermarket, the people walk to Amsterdam Vondelpark during the colourful and cheerful PrideWalk. This year’s theme is ‘Heroes’.
The official opening ceremony takes places at Vondelpark Open Air Theatre. Afterwards, you can enjoy sports and games throughout the day, get informed at the Rainbow Market and enjoy performances.
For 9 days there are events, exhibitions, lectures, guided tours, films, an opera, a football tournament for women and parties for the international LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. Check out the full program on the website of the official Pride Amsterdam.
On August 4, the crowds gather on the dock of the Amsterdam canals to watch the spectacular Gay Parade. About 80 heavily decorated boats sail through the canals, with loud music and entertaining themes.
The Gay Canal Parade starts at 13.00hrs at the Oosterdok port and goes through the Nieuwe Herengracht and the Amstel river. The parade then heads into the Prinsengracht all the way to Westerdok.
In the months leading up to the event, there is always lots of fuss around the organisation of the boats. People started complaining that the Amsterdam canal pride had become too commercial. Large companies enjoy the marketing advantages of the large and televised event and have started to sponsor the gay parade, joining the parade on their own boat.
To meet these complains, boats from organisations that serve some gay community purpose have preference. Also, these types of organisation pay €100 euros to enter, while commercial boats pay up to €4500 to join.
Taboos and gay protest
In Amsterdam, the canal parade tends to have a more profound meaning than just party. Every year boats from a ‘controversial’ background join the parade, like the Dutch military. The gay soldiers even dress up in their military costume. Also a Hindustan boat enters the parade. By participating in the Canal Parade, the Hindustan gay organisations want to break current taboos that hold strong in these communities. Many Hindustan think gay people have a dysfunction or a contagious disease.
The Pride parade gives the Dutch gay organisation COC the opportunity to draw attention to inequalities in the Netherlands concerning homosexuals. COC is also protesting against the fact that civil servants still have the right to refuse to wed a gay couple. ‘If a civil servant refused to marry someone because of their religion or skin colour, it would be considered discrimination’, so the pink posters that COC has spread along the route of Canal Parade explain.
Pride parades are held all over the world, but Amsterdam is the only city that has the parade on boats that sail through the canal in the city centre. The goal of Pride parades is to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender culture while asking for attention to the gay rights issues.
History of Gay Pride
The pride march originated in the USA in the early 70s, where gays and lesbians struggled (and struggle) to be accepted because of their sexual preference. Riots at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York in 1969 are generally considered as the beginning of the gay rights movement.
Amsterdam Gay Pride: where to go
The parties surrounding the gay parade have many outdoor stages, catering and music on the streets. On Saturday, the street party continues after the parade, after which clubs take over.
Main gay areas during the gay parade are: Reguliersdwarsstraat (for the young and trendy), Zeedijk (many bars), around Amstel/Rembrandtplein (Dutch sing-a-long); Westerkerk/gay monument (more alternative style), Amstelveld (club style) and Paardenstraat (lesbian).
In the centre of Amsterdam, a lively gay scene has arisen on Zeedijk street. With gay bars such as Mandje, Lime Bar, Queen’s Head, Barderij and Engels, this area is turning into a competitive area for Reguliersdwarsstraat. Also, in the same area around the Red Light District, Warmoesstraat is still popular among ‘Leather’ gays (Argos, Web, with darkrooms).