Pink Saturday in Utrecht

Roze ZaterdagEverywhere you look in Utrecht today, you’ll see pink. You’ll also see balloons, pink limousines, stalls, crowds of people, stages in all the big squares, and lots of rainbow-colored items. All of this and more is because today is Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday), the annual event celebrating the LGBT community and sexual diversity and equality. Each year a different city plays host to this event and this year it’s Utrecht’s turn to be the Roze Stad (Pink City).

As I mentioned previously, the city created a rainbow crosswalk in town as part of the celebrations, and yesterday the stages were being put in place in the Domplein, Neude, Janskerkhof, Korte Minrebroederstraat, and Lucas Bolwerk. There are also sporting events and other activities and performances taking place indoors and outdoors at various locations. There’s even a kids area in one of the parks.

Roze Zaterdag
We wandered through the various stalls set up along Lucas Bolwerk, which is serving as something of an information point for the festival, as well as hosting performances. The stalls were an interesting mix of groups, which included over-50 dating groups, various vendors selling all sorts of products, and health-oriented groups. Interestingly there were also a number of political parties with stalls set up, including the SP and VVD. The one I found most interesting, from a US perspective, was the Dutch Government Pride display.
Roze Zaterdag
They had people there representing police, fire services, and military. In fact, in the photo above, there are military people there representing the Stichting Homosexualiteit & Krijgsmacht (Homosexuality and Armed Forces Foundation), a union that represents gay and lesbian personnel to the ministry of defence. It wasn’t until late 2011 that the US finally lifted the ban on homosexuals serving in the military, whereas they have been allowed to serve openly in the Dutch military since 1974. As well as being the first country to recognize gay marriage, the Netherlands was the first country to lift the ban on gays serving in the military.
Roze Zaterdag
But that’s enough political talk. As I’m sitting here typing, I can hear all sorts of music playing, including live bands and even a drum line. Earlier today, for the Saturday afternoon Domtoren concert, we were treated to songs such as Mama Mia, YMCA, and even a bit of Daft Punk! There’s nothing like standing in the kitchen, preparing lunch, and realizing that the carillon bells are, in fact, playing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. Not surprisingly, the Domtoren was also flying the rainbow flag next to the Dutch flag.

I love this city!
Roze Zaterdag

Celebrating Sexual Diversity

Rainbow CrossingI was going to post about the regenboog zebrapad in Utrecht (rainbow crosswalk) today anyway, and the news that the US Supreme Court has struck down DOMA makes it even more appropriate. Today, same-sex couples in the US now have more of the rights previously limited to heterosexual couples. Of course, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage.

Not surprisingly, many Dutch cities are also host to various festivals and events celebrating sexual diversity and equality. As well as being this year’s Roze Stad (Pink City), Utrecht is also home to the annual two-week-long Midzomergracht Festival, capped off this Saturday by Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday). The festival is a celebration of the gay/lesbian/trandgendered community and all it has to offer. The festival is a mix of sport, art, debate, and fun, with events going on throughout the city.

Earlier this year, the GroenLinks political party stated their intention to create a visible sign of the city’s diversity and acceptance. The annual festival was a perfect time to unveil this visual statement. As part of the festival, last week the city turned the crosswalk by Vredenburg into a rainbow. The crosswalk is meant to be a statement that anyone of any creed, color, or sexual preference is welcome in Utrecht.

To be ready for the festival, a street crew was out in the night, spraying on the bright colors for the updated crosswalk, which is located at a busy intersection. Many people use the crosswalk to get to and from the station, the open market, the shopping center, and more. It’s a great addition to the city.
Rainbow Crossing

Rainbow Crossing