Amsterdam has a few places of gay historic relevance, the most outstanding being the Homomonument.
'Nothing worse could happen to me after all that has happened', said Benno Premsela, Jew and survivor of the persecution of Jews during WWII, and so he decided to become an openly gay man at a time when that really didn't exist yet. Because there was no space for openly gays, he decided to create that space himself. He joined the Dutch Gay Movement (COC) and became chair man for many years. In 1964 he was the first gay man on Dutch television, who showed his face and used his real name. This openness was for him the only way to change the public image of gays and lesbians. It may be hard to realize now how revolutionary and brave that was less than 50 years ago. The modern gay/lesbian movement will be in his debt forever. Professionally he had started as designer and became noted as window-dresser for the Bijenkorf at Dam Square in Amsterdam. Later he became a famous designer and 'art pope' of Amsterdam. It seemed he sat in every art committee of any importance. He was painted, sculpted and photographed by many contemporary artists. But important and famous as he was, he was always willing to advise and support any gay/lesbian initiative, if only by giving advise how to furnish a local COC.Just a bridge has been named after him - this man deserves a square!
Bridge connecting IJburg and Diemer Vijfhoek
Cafe 't Mandje
In 1927 Cafe (bar) 't Mandje was established. It was run by Bet van Beeren and later by her sister Greet. There are many stories to be told about this bar, some true, most somewhat true and others invented. Fact is that the bar was not what we would call a gay or lesbian bar. It was a place to meet, have a drink, talk, play pool and maybe dance. Today Bet would be known as a lesbian, but she would surely have disagreed with such a label. Cafe 't Mandje must have been more like a place where you could go and to some degree be yourself. On Queensday Bet would allow men to dance with men and women with women. Later she allowed same sex couples to kiss in her bar. Bet disliked ties and the story is that she would cut them and hang them form the ceiling. The current bar still has a few on display. During the world war Bet was involved in giving jewish people a safe place to hide.
Bet died in 1967 and a few years later her sister Greet had to close the bar due to the decline of the neighbourhood. In 2008 the bar was re-opened, its interior very close to the original. Bet's apartment on the first floor can be visited.
Zeedijk 63, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
"Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards." (Last words of Willem Arondéus)
Commemoration plaque Attack on the Register of Births
This is the location of where the Amsterdam Register of Births used to be. The Nazis used this register to find out where Jews were living, so they could be arrested. To prevent this, the underground resistance staged a bomb attack on the register, in 1943.
This group was led by Willem Arondéus (Wikipedia), who was openly gay, even before the war started. The attack destroyed the Register only partly, and the resistance group was soon arrested and executed. Arondéus' name is mentioned on the plaque in the wall of the building next to the entrance of Artis Zoo (Plantage Kerklaan 36). Also, his name lives on in the name of a yearly lecture, organized by the Province of Noordholland, the Willem Arondéus Lecture.
In 1945, the Dutch Government awarded him a medal, posthumously.
Willem Arondéus lies buried on the Eerebegraafplaats Bloemendaal (website), a special cemetery in the dunes near Haarlem, where 373 World War II resistance fighters are buried (locate on map).
Grave of Willem Arondéus in the dunes near Haarlem
Sjoerd Bakker (who was also gay) was also involved in the attack on the registry - he was a tailor, so he made the police uniforms necessary for the men who carried out the attack.
Sjoerd Bakker was also caught and executed, his name is the 10th name on the commemoration plaque at Plantage Kerklaan 36.
Like Willem Arondéus, he lies buried at the honorary cemetery Bloemendaal.
Gerrit van der Veen (1902 - 1944), sculpture, leading member of the Dutch resistance during the second world war and initiator of a group making false identity documents. By doing so his group saved many from going to a concentration camp. The monument dedicated to Van der Veen is not far from the monument in memory of the attack on the ‘bevolkingsregister’ in March 1943. The aim of this attack was to destroy as much information about Amsterdam’s population as possible.
Plantage Middenlaan, Weesperbuurt en Plantage, Amsterdam, Nederland
Grave of Aaicha Bergamin (7 January 1932 - 31 May 2014
Aaicha Bergamin was a well-known transgender woman (born as a boy). She lived in various places, but most of the time in Amsterdam, which is also where she died. During her life she suffered from police harassment and discrimination by her family and society in general. But she always remained strong. When she finally received a passport which officially acknowledged her being a woman, she is said to have gone to the police station where she said to the officers her famous words: "I'm a whore, I'm a woman and you can't stop me!"
Impoverished, she received a municipal grave on the cemetery Sint Barbara near the Westerpark, without any tombstone, only marked with a number.The historian Alex Bakker organized a fund raiser to mark her grave with a proper work of art.
This was unveiled on July 28 2015, in the presence of about 100 guests. The singer/artist Dolly Bellefleur sang several songs in her honour, to mark the occasion.
Monument in commemoration of persecution of homosexuals.
The monument consists of 3 large pink marble triangles, together forming a larger triangle. The pink triangle was used in the Nazi concentration camps to mark homosexuals (similar to the yellow star for Jews).
On the monument you can read a text 'Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen' (To friendship such an endless desire). This is a famous quote of the gay (and Jewish) poet Jacob Israël de Haan.
The monument (created in 1987) attracts many gay visitors from all over the world. One of the triangles sticks out into the Keizersgracht canal. Often you will find flowers laid here by visitors.
Homomonument, one of the 3 pink marble triangles
IHLIA / Homodok
The Netherlands' main gay/lesbian archive (6th floor of Public Libary)
Address: Oosterdokskade 143
Open: 7 days a week, 10am-10pm
Manfred Langer was and still is one of the gay icons of the 1980's and 1990's. He was born in Vienna in 1952. When he was 20 he fell in love with a Dutchman and moved to Amsterdam. In the late 1970's he started his career as an entrepreneur and innovator in the gay scene. He first ran a few bars in the Halvemaansteeg and introduced the happy hour in Amsterdam. He is most known for the gay nightclub iT, which opened in 1989. iT was known for it's extravagant parties and attracted night birds and celebrities from around the world.
In 1994 Manfred discovered he had cancer and died in the same year. His funeral procession was as extravagant as the parties in the iT and became a nation news event.
Not many traces are left in the city are left of Manfred in Amsterdam. However you can still visit his grave with life like statue and the Zorgvlied cemetary. Look for grave number N II 0698FG.
Begraafplaats Zorgvlied, Amsteldijk, 1079 LL Zuideramstel, Amsterdam, Nederland
This bridge is named after Niek Engelsman (a.k.a. Bob Angelo, November 12 1913-October 27 1988), an openly gay member of the resistance during World War II. After the war he played an important role in setting up what later became the COC, the most important Dutch gay movement organization.
From the bridge you have a view on the Homomonument.