Seven years after the Stonewall Riots, the first major equal rights demonstration, organized by the International Lesbian Alliance, took place in the Netherlands. Since 1979, this has become an annual event called Pink Saturday, and takes place in a different city each year. Unlike Pink Saturday, Amsterdam Pride, as the event was called from 1996 to 2006, did not originate as a demonstration or protest march.
Pride Amsterdam was a party, organized by gay catering entrepreneurs united by Gay Business Amsterdam (GBA), to promote Amsterdam as a gay nightlife city and to celebrate the freedom and diversity of the city (which is still woven into the DNA of the festival). “It was a gift from the gay entrepreneurs to the city,” says GBA spokesperson Siep de Haan.
Many years later, the theme of emancipation has been added to Pride and the festival has grown from a one-day event into an internationally renowned LGBTI+ festival which expresses the diversity of the LGBTI+ community through sports, arts and culture, pink church services, manifestations in various Amsterdam city districts and Lesbian, Senior, and Trans Pride events. Because of this development, Pride received the Bob Angelo Medal from the COC in 2014.
Since the drama of the Love Parade in Duisburg (2010), safety and crowd management costs have more than quadrupled, while the number of shoulders to carry those burdens has more than halved. As a result, it is no longer possible to rest all costs solely on LGBTI+ entrepreneurs and expect Pride to still be a gift from them to the city. At the same time, we are in a phase in which gay activism no longer has to focus on politics, but mainly on employers, churches, and sports associations.
This often happens from the inside, and the result of this can be seen when sailing in the Canal Parade that has been hosted in recent years. The proud pink employee associations of multinationals. We are not only grateful to them because they still make Pride financially possible, but also because they contribute to the “social norm” that it is normal to disapprove of discrimination against LGBT people.
THREE DIFFERENT ORGANIZERS
Pride Amsterdam was organized from 1996 to 2005 by the Gay Business Amsterdam Foundation (GBA), from 2006 to 2013 by the ProGay Foundation, and since 2014 by the Pride Amsterdam Foundation (formerly Amsterdam Gay Pride, AGP).
Every three years, the municipality decides who gets to organize Pride. After the 2014- 2016 concession, for the first time in history there were no competing applications, so the concession for 2017-2019 automatically went to the Pride Amsterdam Foundation.
After the Pride of 2022, there will be a new tender and due to WorldPride 2026, the Municipality decided that this time the concession will last for four years, 2023- 2026. We are confident that the new concession will be given to us yet again.
MILESTONES FOR AMSTERDAM
The capital of the Netherlands owes its name to its location near a dam built on the Amstel River in the 13th century. The city, which lies 2 meters below sea level, is also called Mokum and is home to 905,000 people. It acquired city rights around 1300 and developed into one of the most important trading cities in the world in the 17th century.
The Canal Belt 
The canal belt is located in the old city center and is runs along the four main canals of Amsterdam: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. From the northwest, the canals run parallel to each other toward the southeast, ending after four gentle curves in the Amstel River. The canal belt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Night Watch 
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) is the most famous Dutch master of the 17th century. The Night Watch dating from 1642 is his largest and most important work. To prevent its destruction, the painting was hidden in the caves of Maastricht during the Second World War. The people represented in the painting lived and worked in the area we now call the canal belt.
Royal Palace 
The Palace on Dam Square was originally built as a town hall between 1648-1655, and only inaugurated as a palace by King Louis Napoleon in 1808. The palace, which rests on a foundation of 13,681 wooden piles, is now a reception palace and also serves as a museum. The palace can be viewed every day, unless King Willem-Alexander is visiting.
End of the Death Penalty 
In the 18th century, gay sex was considered a serious sin punishable by death. In 1765, the last five men were executed at the gallows in Amsterdam. On a national level, Jillis Bruggeman was the last man to be executed. He was hanged in Schiedam in 1803. With the introduction of French law (1811), the death penalty for sodomy was officially abolished.
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers 
Thanks to his 15 beautiful Sunflowers in a half-high vase, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is perhaps even more famous than Rembrandt. Van Gogh himself said that sunflowers symbolize gratitude. He visited Amsterdam only a few times, but the museum dedicated to him in Amsterdam is one of the most visited museums in the world.
The most successful football club in the Netherlands is Ajax Amsterdam. Ajax has brought forth several world-class players like Johan Cruijff and, like Pride, is woven into our city’s DNA. For the 25th anniversary of Pride Amsterdam, Ajax played in a jersey with the inscription ‘Love Unites’. With this, the club drew attention to the need for a diverse and inclusive society.
Cafe het Mandje 
This cafe on the Zeedijk is the oldest existing ‘gay’ cafe. The strong Bet van Beeren founded it in 1927, and was very open about her sexuality. Due to the strict morality laws at the time, she did not allow kissing or other “lewd behavior”, but everyone was welcome. As a result, this cafe is regularly visited by sailors, sex workers, gay and straight people.
Anne Frank [1929-1945]
Her diary is the most translated and read book in the world. Anne wrote it while in hiding with her family. The family was later betrayed and deported to Auschwitz. Her father, who was the only one to survive the war, decided to publish it. He hoped it would inspire people to act against prejudice and discrimination.
COC Netherlands 
Founded in 1946 as the Shakespeare Club, the COC is the oldest existing advocacy organisation for LGBTI+ people in the world. It has a special consultative status at the United Nations. By allowing others to use their speaking rights at the UN, they also give a voice to sister organisations from other countries.
Pink Saturday 
Seven years after the Stonewall Riots, the first major equality demonstration took place in Amsterdam, organised by the International Lesbian Alliance against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign. It was called Pink Saturday and became an annual event, held in a different city on the last Saturday of June each year from 1979 onwards.
Gay Monument 
The world’s first gay monument is located next to the Westerkerk. It consists of three pink triangles that come together to form a large triangle. It commemorates all those who have been persecuted because of their orientation or gender identity. The pink triangle from the German concentration camps is the Geuzen symbol for people’s struggle for acceptance and equal rights.
EuroPride Amsterdam 
The idea to organise a EuroPride was born during the ILGA World Conference in 1991. Berlin, London, and Amsterdam took the lead in this endeavor and are considered the founding cities of EPOA, the licenser of EuroPride. In 1994, EuroPride took place in Amsterdam and was the first major LGBTI+ event in the Netherlands with more than 100,000 visitors.
Pride Amsterdam 
In order to promote Amsterdam as a center of queer entertainment, gay hospitality entrepreneurs came up with the idea of attracting tourists to the city in the summer. In 1996, a colorful procession of boats sailed through the city’s canals for the first time. Unlike elsewhere in the world, this parade was not intended as a protest, but purely as a celebration of freedom and to celebrate diversity.
Gay Games Amsterdam 
Under the motto of Friendship through Culture and Sports, the 5th Gay Games took place in Amsterdam in 1998. For the first time ever outside of America. With 13,000 participants, it became the biggest Games of all time. The opening and closing ceremonies took place at the Amsterdam Arena and were watched live on television by more than 1 million people.
Same-sex Marriage 
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples. On 1 April 2001, press from all over the world gathered in Amsterdam to witness this moment . Just after midnight, four couples were married by the mayor of Amsterdam. After that, 31 countries followed suit.
The Rainbow Cities Network 
The International Rainbow Cities network was established in Amsterdam to improve LGBTI+ policies. The cities are important actors in the fight for LGBTI+ rights and have been campaigning and pursuing policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for years.
The Declaration of Amsterdam 
By signing the declaration, companies committed to working towards an inclusive workplace. It has improved the psychological safety, happiness, and performance of all employees, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Companies such as IBM, Philips, Shell, Unilever, and TNT are among the signatories.
EuroPride Amsterdam 
Under the motto ‘Join our Freedom’, the EuroPride was held in Amsterdam for the second time in 2016. This time the event lasted two weeks and started with a Pink Saturday and a human rights concert on Dam Square. With 516,000 visitors and 2.1 million television viewers, this event exceeded all expectations and was a great success.
Intangible Heritage 
In 2019, Pride Amsterdam was added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Netherlands. After the ratification of the UNESCO Convention in 2012, Pride Amsterdam was the 150th addition. With this, we can ensure that Pride will still be celebrated in 100 years, and that it will be passed on from generation to generation.