Annemarie Grewel

Annemarie Grewel (1935 – 1998) was one of the first, visible lesbian politicians in the Netherlands. She was known for her non-conformist style. She was member of the Amsterdam city council and later she became a senator for the Dutch labour party. We remember her from a committee meeting she chaired at city hall. It was a long afternoon with a range of not very exciting topics. She seemed not too interested, but typically Annemarie she was able to interrupt and steer the meeting when needed.

Another item on the agenda. The disappearance of a so-called ‘krul’ (swirl in English, reflecting the shape of the lavatory). A ‘krul’ was a public lavatory (men only) in Amsterdam. In most cases it was designed for use by two, which also created a cruising opportunity. The municipality wasn’t happy with this aspect, so they quietly replaced the double ‘krul’ by single ones or they would remove the double ‘krul’, not expecting anyone to ask questions. This afternoon someone from the public did ask questions. The responsible civil servant mumbled something about urgent maintenance and general policies. The follow up question was of course when the ‘krul’ would return. The answer was very vague and linked to overall planning of maintenance in Amsterdam. But, after a few more questions, the answer was that it was planned that a single ‘krul’ would return in the not too distant future. Why a single?
This was when Annemarie Grewel interfered: the municipality should, she said, replace a double ‘krul’ with a double ‘krul’, and not think about aspects it should not worry about. The civil servant looked baffled. Grewel emphasized: no need for the municipality to influence the sexual behavior of its citizens by reducing the number of double ‘krullen’. After a short silence she added ‘although I don’t understand why anyone would like to have sex in a public lavatory’.

Annemarie Grewel continued to support gay and lesbian emancipation until her death in 1998. Typically Annemarie she wasn’t member of any of the gay and lesbian groups or initiatives: she remained a passionate individual with a strong sense of solidarity and belief in people’s individual talents and the fundamental right to pursue them.

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