I have been treated to a really fantastic first gay pride weekend here in Amsterdam. My friend Huw invited me to join him on his friend’s boat for an unparalleled view of the parade, which (this being Amsterdam after all) is completely on boats, making their way through the canals. After the parade, we met up with Xavier and several new friends for a night of drinks and dancing which ended at about 5am this morning. We grabbed a few hours worth of shut-eye and then had a relaxing picnic in the park with a group of about 17, including just about everyone I know here. One of the things I have found to be so great about Amsterdam is how much more seems to happen in groups here, and how open-hearted and friendly everyone seems to be. My friends have been trying to convince me that I ought to move here, and I have to admit to be very tempted indeed by the treatment I have been receiving. Amsterdam is really one of my favorite cities anywhere.
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It just so happened that my trip to Belgrade coincided with gay pride week here. But this isn’t like gay pride in New York or other western capitals. The numbers attending events here are quite small, but it is heartening to see some activists take up the cause of equal rights, often at great personal danger to themselves. Serbia is a country with intense anti gay hatred. The gay pride march was supposed to happen today in the center of town, but the government canceled the event citing security issues. The last time a march was permitted was in 2010, and it was marred by intense clashes between quite well organized neo-nazi groups opposed to equality and the police. Serbia is attempting to join the EU, but it will need to respect the rights of LGBT citizens if it wants membership. It was widely expected to allow the march to go ahead and provide police protection, but at the last minute they caved. Fortunately, a smaller group of a few hundred quickly organized gay rights activists spontaneously marched instead last night, without incident.
Some years, I just don’t really put a lot of energy into gay pride. I am of course aware of it all around me, but the previous brouhaha seems missing somehow. It is not that I am any less passionate about my equal rights and fighting for them. It is just that after 20 or so years of being out and experiencing numerous pride parades, celebrations, dance parties, and events over the years it falls a little flat. Still, I went to a sweet pre-pride cocktail party last night and met some nice people, some of whom invited me to a large brunch with a bunch of strangers, so I will probably attend that today. I love the opportunity for random encounters with new people. I guess depending on the number of brunch cocktails, we will see about approaching the throngs of the proud…
As you might have guessed, yesterday was Gay Pride in NYC. This was my first time in the city for the event. I have to say New York really does it big. Josh and I started the day with a brunch (what else? It is the gayest meal there is) and then headed over to walk along the parade route a bit. I was amazed at how long the parade stretches here, from 52nd street, all the way down 5th avenue and then east over to Christopher and Greenwich. That is one LONG route, with every group imaginable related to gayness, and tons and tons of people all along the route watching. I don’t think I have ever seen as many at a pride event, and I used to live in SF, where there would be tons. As we passed through the Village we stopped in to see my friend John and his crew at Cowgirl before continuing on to the water. We ended the day with a dance party on the pier, which was much cooler with the breeze off the water, and the music was really danceable, even if we were hemmed in by hordes of the shirtless and the sweaty. I left before the end and took a pleasant summer stroll back to my new apartment and went to bed.
Now to finish setting up my new room and work space, and get back to website making…
What a gay ole time we had yesterday. It started off with the Buenos Aires gay pride parade at the Plaza de Mayo. As is the trend with this sort of event, it was pretty similar to any gay pride event anywhere else in the world, except the parade part was kinda small and one of the largest individual groups seemed to be the communists. That (according to my friend Guillermo) is because the communists crash any and all demonstrations or parades here and insert themselves into the happening, germane or not to their cause. I wasn’t sure if I admired their tenacity or was annoyed at their egocentrism, but fortunately it did look as if several of them were gay. After hanging out with the homos all day (and taking advantage of some free hugs, see below), we finished off the evening in what had to be the most appropriate way: We went to see a musical about Eva Peron. No, not that one. This is a new musical, called simply “Eva”, with all new music and with a somewhat different focus than the Broadway production. While I only understood about 50% of it, the staging and music were still a treat.