300,000 throng Amsterdam streets for gay pride
August 10, 2004
AMSTERDAM — More than 300,000 people gathered in the Dutch capital Saturday
for the Gay Pride festival that saw participants baring more flesh
as they paraded along the canals on a flotilla of boats and barges.
Barge scene at Dutch pride
Those taking part included a variety of associations and groups
as well as the city's firefighters, gay basketball players and an
Israeli-Palestinian friendship group.
Organizers had asked participants this year to show more flesh
to confirm the city's reputation as the "homosexual capital of
Europe" and to combat what they see as a more conservative
"anti-erotic" climate in the country.
"The public will not be subjected to sexually explicit acts but
the parade must be provocative and sexy," Siep de Haan, one of the
organizers, said. "After all this is a homosexual parade and not a
Amsterdam police spokeswoman Elly Florax said the parade had
been more "spicy" this year without being overly outlandish.
There was the usual array of colorful floats with pounding
music, garments in all shapes and, well, sizes – in many cases
covering only the bare minimum – though the majority of sexual
organs on display were actually fake.
The public, for its part, appeared overall to enjoy the show
although there were a few grumblings among some who were peeved by
the nudity and the underlying message.
"I am 100 percent in favour of the emancipation of homosexuals
and I believe their sexual preferences are absolutely natural but
what is the use of all this?," said Annelies, a young woman there
with her two children, as she pointed to a float carrying a group
of scantily dressed men.
The children's grandmother disagreed saying that the event and
the nudity could prove a good opportunity to explain to children
However others begged to differ, denouncing the carnival
"If they're satisfied dancing nude to loud music, it's nothing
but theatre, and they are only confirming all the cliches about
them," said Julie, in the city for the weekend.
Henk and Marco, a homosexual couple who traveled from the east
of the country to watch the event, agreed saying the Gay Pride
parade was sending the wrong message.
"Homosexuality is as diversified as heterosxuality, it doesn't
come down to a few bared bottoms," Henk said.
Still, many who watched the parade said they saw the event as a
way to combat growing intolerance toward the gay community.
According to a new study by Gay Krant, the most popular
newspaper for the homosexual community in the Netherlands, the
number of gays in the country who are insulted or threatened
because of their sexual orientation is on the rise. – Sapa-AFP
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