LGBTQ Special: “One day a year, we are the norm”

peter showcasing his new purchases of the week

LGBTQ Special Volume 2

Part 2 of our LGBTQ special. Still sitting in Danilo’s living room. More wine than pasta at this point. The atmosphere is between thoughtful and cheery. Many heartfelt confessions, animated discussions and plenty of laughter. Hard to transcribe into written word but you definitely can take us at our word.  

Is it comforting to be part of to the gay community?

DJ: I am very happy that the gay community is there so at least I can be part of a group. Of course I’d rather be a member of the larger group, which is the rest of society, but we found each other to form a community. Sort of a safety net.
Peter: So you’d rather be in…
DJ: No, not anymore. No, no, no. That was when I was a kid. Growing up and learning to accept it. Now I’m happy. I wouldn’t want to be straight.

What are your thoughts on the integration of the LGBTQ community in our general society?

Lucia: I see more attempts of connecting rather than real integration. It feels like “Hey, our community is here and yours is there. Let’s meet and greet and exchange business cards” rather than all just be.

Is it like this? Do you agree with what Lucia is saying?

Peter: Of course I don’t think: “Oh, he’s straight. I’m gonna make friends”, but you’ll still find a way to connect even though you know that there’s a side of you that can’t come out with that person.
Lucia: But exactly. We feel a need for integration but that way it feels like we have to create a bridge rather than just integrate. Which is what would happen in an ideal world.

Is it still really important to have these Prides?

Peter: Yes, it is. To honor the fact that we are able to live without being abused. That’s worth a celebration. I was super lucky, because I haven’t experienced anything terrible throughout my life. I come from a very accepting surrounding, even in my family, which is lucky. But that’s not always the case…at all. So pride is a historical thing actually. It’s party, but it’s historical.
DJ: What’s important for me is that one day a year, we are the norm and 364 days a year it’s hetero normativity. For one day, it’s us, it’s normal for me to walk down the street with my boyfriend.

Dirk Jan trying on glasses

How does it feel to see so many people that come to support and to make you feel like you’re the norm for that day?

Marc: Super! That’s the heartwarming side that I feel. And what really moved me was when last year, I was on a boat and on the side there was a group of refugees. They were cheering us and I really felt welcome. That was so moving to me. That’s those moments when I feel: “Wow, what we are doing is so beautiful!”

There is a generation difference between you, Marc, and the rest of the group tonight. They grew up in a different time, so probably what pride means to you is different?

Marc: When I became sexually active, was the time when AIDS came out and I had people dying around me. So for me, this whole Pride is very burdened as well. It’s very recent. For some people, it’s much further away. For me, it feels like I’m also faithful to the people who are not there anymore.
DJ: And Pride is probably more political for you than for most people now for whom it’s mainly a party. Especially the Amsterdam pride. Compared to other cities Amsterdam pride is just fun.
Marc: Do you think it’s not needed anymore to be political?
Group: Yes, of course!

Why do the Pride here in Amsterdam and not in other places, where it would be much more needed?

Lucia: In a way, the party is the last bit. It’s like you fight, you fight, you educate and along the way you fight. And at the end of the way you can party because people are educated enough in order not to create a war around this.

Is there a danger in forgetting to remind society of the political background of Pride and just underline the party aspect of it? 

Lucia: Maybe the party is what’s remaining, but during Pride week there are many talks, so there is a political layer that you have access to if you are interested. So at least you have the opportunity to go and educate yourself if you want to. I do also think that it shouldn’t become this heavy thing where it’s like “Stop partying and make an assembly!”
DJ: I think that Pride is very much needed. The level of acceptance that we have now is nothing that we can take for granted and it’s something that you have to keep fighting for. It slips away very easily so it’s something to be very vigilant about.

enrico portrait

Enrico: We do get a lot of criticism and people wondering why we celebrate Pride and make a special thing out of it. So I do wonder when is the point that we don’t need a Pride anymore. Will it ever come?

Last question: How can gay people contribute to society with their pride and queerness?

Peter: Humor! There’s something about having trauma that brings a sense of humor as well somehow. You can see during Pride that people don’t take themselves so seriously. It’s just funny and fun for a while to be a little ridiculous. It’s not taking yourself seriously. I feel like it’s much harder for straight people to do this. To break free from this serious life day to day.
Marc: I’m proud of the way that I can have relationships with women. Friendships. Because there is no sexual tension I guess. It makes me proud that I can also relate to them in a sensitive way.
DJ: Being gay taught me open mindedness. I was raised as an orthodox Christian so I had to learn how to accept myself as a gay person and with everything that I had learned about God and what was written in the Bible. So I had to learn to re-read the bible in a way that is more open and accepting and I think that for a lot of people this can be very helpful. To question everything they have learned and make their own decisions and get their own answers to life questions. This is much more than just sexuality.
Peter: Being gay comes with a lot of shame. Even if I’m not ashamed of myself by any means. But there are points where you feel shame for being gay and I guess the opposite to shame is pride!
(the group is raving)
Enrico: I feel like we brought a lot of sexiness as well. If you look at fashion and design, we’d be at a different point without gays.

marc and enrico talkingpeter going high fashion