Pride in Amsterdam

Crowded canal-side street during Amsterdam Pride.

Pride — and I do mean the parade kind, the kind with a capital P — is always deeply personal and inescapably political. What makes Pride parades and their associated programming so unique is that they also make Pride extremely public, and that they invite and involve the mainstream. LGBTQ+ activists and advocates are basically fighting globally on a cultural battlefield to increase acceptance by increasing visibility, and these events are heavy hitters.

Amsterdam’s Pride Parade travels along a canal.

In 2019, Amsterdam’s Pride is officially a full week of programming, capped off with a parade along the city’s famous canals. It is a clear victory for visibility; the entire city (in addition to corporate participants, which we are all too familiar with in the U.S.) is plastered with rainbow flags. During the parade itself, navigating the city becomes a freshly difficult — and freshly delighting — task. Streets and canals are closed and flooded with pedestrians, floats, and temporary parade infrastructure. On this day, Amsterdam’s core is transformed to become a platform for Pride above all else.

Canals and streets alike are closed for the parade.

The Pride parade as a tool in the ever-evolving PR campaign that is the queer liberation movement is, to put it mildly, not perfect. It’s something of a blunt instrument, and one complaint that seems to gain more traction each year is that it’s become more party than protest. As the movement evolves, as the fight changes, there’s certainly plenty to take issue with during Pride parades, and Amsterdam Pride is no exception to these flaws. But when you’re still fighting this hard for a seat at the table, to just be seen, sometimes just making a ton of noise is as good an option as any.

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