As America catches up with Holland in the tolerance-for-all department, the Dutch capital will celebrate its position as one of the world’s most socially liberal countries during Amsterdam Pride 2015—a city-wide celebration of equality for the LGBT crowd. The week-long festivities will begin July 25, with most activities planned from July 30–August 2.
To put things in historical context, same-sex activity has been legal in Holland since 1811. Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1973, and the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. According to recent polls, more than 90% of Dutchies now view homosexuality as moral (and presumably normal).
Amsterdam is frequently named amongst the most LGBT friendly cities in the world, renowned for its plethora of accommodations, bars, restaurants and saunas that cater to the LGBT community. The city’s famous liberal-mindedness was the catalyst for such resources as Pink Point near the Westerkerk, where gays can access free guidance and information. Nearby, the Homomonument, completed in 1987, is the first monument in the world commemorating homosexuals who were persecuted and killed during World War II.
Counterpoint to this social liberalism, there are still 75+ countries in the world—including eight where the death penalty can be imposed for same-sex intimacy—with criminal laws against homosexuality, according to the latest tally from ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Happily, no country in Europe still has laws against homosexuality.
Party Hard at Amsterdam Pride 2015
As one of the largest celebrations of its kind on Earth, Amsterdam Pride annually draws more than 350,000 gay, straight and transgender party animals. The city turns into a rainbow of dance parties, film festivals, sporting events and cultural fun during more than a week of flamboyant festivities.
Throughout the week, trendy gays will party on the Reguliersdwarsstraat, Rembrandtplein and Zeedijk. Gay venues near the Amstel cater to a more Dutch crowd, while Café Saarein is the base for LesBian Pride. Special events also are hosted at IHLIA, the city’s gay archive and library, on the sixth floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (OBA). Traditionally, there’s also a Grey Pride program geared for seniors.
The annual Pride Walk and outdoor street party will launch the festivities at the Homomonument near the Westerkerk, on Thursday, July 30, followed by after-parties at Dirty Dicks, Club Church, Eagle and Club NYX. Don’t miss the hilarious Drag Queen Olympics at the Westermarkt on Friday, July 31 at the Homomonument, featuring such scintillating events as the Stiletto Sprint, Handbag Discus and the Tug of Love, where kinky dress and attitude are as important as sporting prowess. If you like what you see and want to hook up, go for a cruise at (Z)onderbroek, the popular Friday night underwear party at Club Church.
Pride Highlight: The Prinsengracht Canal Parade
As in years past, the festive canal parade along the Prinsengracht and Amstel River will highlight Pride 2015 on Saturday, August 1. Beginning at 13:30 at the beginning of the Prinsengracht at Westerdok harbor, the event will feature 80 lavishly decorated barges, many bursting with onboard DJs and buff bods clad in skimpy costumes, sailing along the canals until 18:00. Smaller craft form a maritime flotilla of fun as they line up for canal-side viewing along the parade route.
At the end of the Prinsengracht, the parade turns onto the Amstel, passing Amsterdam’s renowned Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) and the Stadshuis/Muziektheater. Views abound all along the route, but the most popular spots are near the Magere Brug and at the Stopera/City Hall.
The Pride Closing Party will again take place on a massive stage at the Rembrandtplein, beginning around 14:00 on Sunday, August 2. Dutch artists and DJs will entertain the mixed crowd, many recovering from hangovers after a week of partying. Those who haven’t had enough of boys and booze can carry on with Rapido Pride in Amsterdam’s beloved Paradiso, and Rapido After at Hotel Arena. Stay proud!