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What Pride means to me in 2023

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Nienke, Mehdi, an anonymous friend, and I attend the annual Pride March. It’s the city’s first two-week Pride festival in Amsterdam, each week organized by a different organization. With a naturally intersectional and radically-inclusive interpretation of the term “queer”, I am pleased Queer Amsterdam is taking care of the annual Pride Walk.

On Friday, I tell colleagues over office drinks why we still need Pride. The fact that I had to write “an anonymous friend” instead of the name of a person I love and admire illustrates my point beautifully.

“I think I’ll wear my face mask” he says, 20 minutes into the event. “Am I getting too close?” I ask, concerned. No, he just doesn’t feel comfortable being photographed. The off chance that his parents may see him is not worth it.

As we walk, I think about the meaning of the word “pride”. If we walk in a Pride March, can we be proud without wanting to be photographed and broadcast for anyone to see? A sign in the crowd reads “you can’t be what you can’t see”, and I agree. Representation is crucial, to this my life is a testament. But what burden does that place on people whose visibility is dangerous to themselves?

The intersection of queerdom, the way it interacts with ethnicity, religion, ability, neurodivergence, age, education, and location, is why I’m here today. Why I’m here at all. Mehdi, who has never attended a Pride event in his life, learns to shout along:

What do we want?
TRANS RIGHTS!
When do we want them?
NOW!

The speeches this year spark my interest. Tieneke talks about consent, an oft-overlooked point of concern in our queer communities. Someone whose name I forgot talks about bisexuality. I remember how unsettling it was as a young adult that people told me I was “in transit”, on my way to being either gay or straight.

I’m here today shouting for myself, a little bit, but also to engage in the praxis of allyship which is by default an aspirational habit: doing the things we know to be right, without determining for other people whether we can call ourselves their allies.

A person in a trenchcoat and a hat looks on as a Pride march walks by, photographing the event

A person in a colorful jacket walks in a Pride march