Woooohoooo! It was that time of the year again, where Amsterdam turns almost pink and is the center of gay people from every walk of life. Not only that, families with children, teenagers, friends. They all lined the canals for the annual Amsterdam Canal Pride, the height of a full week centered on gay culture, the cherry on top so to speak.
It’s not only just gay groups involved; stores, churches, government agencies, they all contribute in their own way. Such as the Dutch Railways (the NS). When I met up with author Blaine D. Arden at Amsterdam Central Station, it was decorated with pride flag colours and pink balloons.
As Blaine and I made our way through Amsterdam we saw many stores with pride flags or special deals. There were even churches (yes you read that right!) with great big pride flags decorating the front. There was such a jovial and friendly atmosphere, it was hard to believe there are still so many places in the world where there is such hatred against everything gay.
The Amsterdam Canal Pride dates back to the seventies when it was called ‘Roze Zaterdag’ or ‘Pink Saturday’ an event that was held every year in Amsterdam until the eighties when it was held in a different city every year. In the nineties it returned to Amsterdam in the form we know it now: an entire week dedicated to gay culture with events in theaters, dances, street shows, art and what not and culminates in the event known world-wide: the Canal Pride. Typically held on the first Saturday of August, there are around 80 to 90 boats sailing through the canals and every boat has a different theme and is usually ‘owned’ by a different group.
The theme for this year’s pride was “On the Move” and that resulted in 80 boats with dancing men, pirates, vampires, queens, flag waving hotties and boats filled with supportive party people.
Most remarkable was the boats with Turkish people. The Turks are very closed off people, so for them to out themselves as they did was something else. Unfortunately I heard later that some have received threats, but fortunately, the police are taking them very serious.
Also notable was that the gay escorts had their own boat. It was both funny and amusing to see. It made me think: only in Holland. Of course, this is Amsterdam we’re talking about. It’s almost a country onto itself.
Blaine and I stood for over two hours in awe of some of the boats that passed through. There was awe, laughter and amusement (those wrestle outfits sure show everything and some people are really not meant to be seen in see-through thin white underwear).
All in all it was not only good to finally get to meet Blaine, but it was amazing to finally experience the Canal Pride for real instead of in passing or on the news or in pictures.
Speaking of pictures, I hope you enjoy mine! We didn’t have the greatest spot (but we made do). There were just that many people. The railways even had extra trains and extra-long trains to ferry people to and from.