So here in Amsterdam its "that time of year again" Amsterdam Gay Pride. Am I looking forward to it? Yes, in some ways I am. This year, unfortunately my BFF and my boy won't be here - they are on vacation; but both of our pups, Squeek and Sniffer will be here for the weekend, so yes, I'm looking forward to it.
Am I looking forward to the parade? No, not really. Slowly, over the years since Canal Parade started it has changed, and in my opinion - not for the better, and I have many reasons for this. But first some background.
Im fortunate to live on one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam - Prinsengracht; the same canal where the Canal Parade takes place. I live on the part of the Prinsengracht near the seven bridges - a great vantage point for people to watch the parade.
Every year, we get up early to put our table and chairs out at the side of the canal to watch the parade - but every year our ability to actually see the parade, and enjoy it diminishes - why you may ask? Well lets use last year as an example.
We settled outside the canal at around 10am, with a table and 6 chairs to have breakfast, people were already gathering, slowly at this point, but it was getting busier. As usual there was a single row of boats along side where we were sitting. It was not long before another row started to appear. Directly in front of us, there was a smallish boat, a simple one that belongs to one of my neighbours. A second larger boat, obviously hired for the day appeared with two men, both straight in it. They started to unpack a huge amount of alcohol and snacks; preparing for a party. After a while, they started to fence off the area on the road as "Our Party Zone!" - actually around us!! When we objected they looked at us and stated "Its ok, you can stay, but it might get uncomfortable for you when our friends arrive!" I stared at this idiot and politely (at first) informed him that I was a resident, and was actually sitting in front of my own home, and did not appreciate that area being fenced off as "their party zone". My neighbours started to gather along side me, and supported me, eventually they took the tape-fence down. Shortly after they started to erect a canopy over the boat, completely obstructing our view, we protested but to no avail - they stated they were "allowed" to do that, and indeed they were, but it was hardly polite. At this point, there was no more room to move, so we could not find an alternate spot. At this point their "guests" started to arrive, most of them already pretty drunk. Without going in to too many details, this whole crowd which grew to about 30 people, just got more and more annoying throughout the afternoon and eventual parade. They kept walking on and off the boat usually knocking into our table, throwing their garbage off the boat and beside our feet etc etc. At one point I looked back, and noticed that they were using the front of my apartment building as a public urinal, on objection I was laughed at or ignored. Over the coming weeks most of the plants outside my building died.
Looking around the area, during the parade - there were many drunk, straight people some pretty innocent (and funny) and some causing damage, sitting on cars, scratching cars, throwing cans around etc etc. Many would say that its good that so many straight people attend pride parades, indeed this is true if they attend in support or for other good reasons; but it was obvious that most of the people were there as it was another excuse for a city party they didn't give a damn that it was Gay Pride. Many were laughing at the people on the boats and my gay people on the street for how they were conducting themselves, or how they were dressed - they were there to watch a "freak show" These sort of people make me boil!!!
Furthermore, over the years, more and more of the boats have been "corporate" In one sense this is good, it shows corporate support for the community - but usually these boats are pretty boring, and take up the limited places that would be available to smaller gay businesses or organisations, that we would much prefer to see as part of the parade. Am I asking for corporate boats to be stopped - certainly not, but there should be a balance that is not being addressed today.
Ok, my final moan. The Gay Pride Organisation in Amsterdam seems to focus solely on the "mainstream" gay community in the city, and not the fetish community (for example) over the last few years our requests for our events and bars to be included in the marketing for the event or in the agenda's and other communications is largely ignored; again this needs to be addressed.
However, apart from the parade, the evenings in the bars on the Warmoesstraat are usually a lot of fun, its great to meet old friends and tourists from all over the world who come for Amsterdam Gay Pride - so this is another reason to look forward to the event.
So in closing - to all - I wish you all a happy, safe, and enjoyable Amsterdam Gay Pride!