I couldn’t sleep last night, so I was up checking Twitter and Facebook and saw some news that suddenly made me not so unhappy to be awake. Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriages in California, was overturned! Wonderful news! As a friend of Ken’s said, “Welcome back to the 21st century, California!”
It seems somehow appropriate that this hateful law should be overturned this week in particular. After all, this is Gay Pride Week here in the Netherlands, with a huge variety of parties, concerts and parades going on all over Amsterdam. The events start today with the opening party cruise, but there are all sorts of parties going on all weekend. The biggest, of course, is the famous canal parade on Saturday.
More than 500,000 people are likely to be at the canal parade this year, and there are 80 boats participating. It’s looking to be one of the biggest and most diverse parades yet and there are some new participants this year that really make it seem like the world is starting to move in the right direction on this topic. For example, this year will see Jewish and transgender boats represented, and I’m particularly interested to see that there will be boats there representing Africa and Europe. Considering the risk to their life that many people of the GLT community face in Africa, it’s good to see people standing up in support of them. I’m particularly thrilled to see the EuroPride boat, featuring members of the EU parliament and the EU anthem being played by an orchestra. After some of the responses I’ve seen from politicians in the US to the idea of equality for people based on their sexual orientation, it’s nice to see a governing body putting more emphasis on promoting this kind of equality.
The theme of the festival/parade this year is Celebrate. With the overturning of Prop 8 and the inclusion of more and more groups, both political and cultural, into the parade, it definitely seems like there’s a lot to celebrate this year.
For the record, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage. This event took place 1 April 2001. The country hasn’t fallen apart yet, nor is there anarchy in the streets, and straight marriages haven’t disappeared. Since then, numerous countries have followed suite, recognizing either same-sex marriages or civil unions. Hopefully, more will follow suit and in another nine-years, having to fight for the right to marry the person you love will just be a distant memory. At least we’re starting to move in the right direction.
For the full list of events and times (and if you’re going to the parade get there EARLY!!!!), check out the Amsterdam Gay Pride website (in multiple languages) for times and links for purchasing tickets. There are films, sports and so much more going on over the next few days, so you’re bound to find something of interest. If you’re coming in from out of town, even if you live in Utrecht but don’t want to deal with trying to get a train home after a night of partying, you might want to check out VoucherCodesUK, which is currently offering a discount of 10% off hotel bookings at Hotels.com. And because this is a blog about Utrecht, don’t think there isn’t stuff to be experienced here. Nighttours.com has a listing of various events, as well as restaurants and hotels and such that are particularly gay-friendly.