On Saturday the 14th of July many bars, restaurants and clubs showed the rainbow flag in solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community in Amsterdam. This public show of support was organized by Donnie Bergsma and Diva MayDay. It is a reaction against the rise in violence against people from the LGBTQI+ community. The latest incident was the proverbial drop spilling over the bucket. And on a glorious summer Saturday rainbow flags made Amsterdam a bit more beautiful.
Why the show of solidarity?
Over the past couple of years there were many incidence of violence against LGBTQI+ people in Amsterdam (see here and here). Diva MayDay has in the past spoken out in front of the city council of Amsterdam about this violence and the need for action against it.
Then on the 23rd of June a friend of MayDay drag queen Monique de la Fressange was attacked. She had just left the Queens Head bar, where she had performed that night. Around the corner she was waiting for her taxi when a group of men set upon her. The drag queen tried to defend herself and to flee, but was left with some severe bruises and a bruised nose.
Diva MayDay had the feeling that despite all the demonstrations in the past, her lobbying of local government and her calls to action in (social) media she was still standing alone. That when she got the idea of getting the wider community of bars, restaurants and clubs involved and not only the LGBTQI+ scene.
To fly the flag or not?
The organizers of this protest got over 350 businesses involved in the one-day campaign under the slogan #westandtogether. All kinds of bars, clubs and restaurants across the city joined in to raise the rainbow flag. Or not?
The challenge for these business is, that the rules about raising a flag are quite strict in Amsterdam. So that had to replace a flag with a rainbow flag or find another solution. Many just raised the flag, either outside of the building or in the window of their bar or restaurant.
Others had to be more creative. They used the power of light or lcd screens in the evening to show the rainbow colours out and proud. Some showed their solidarity on social media with a #westandtogether post. A special mention to the businesses in the Herenstraat who got together as a community and raised the love=love rainbow flags all through their street.
A drop in the ocean?
Some of the rainbow flags or lights were very prominent. We went out with four of our editors during the Saturday to capture the signs (see pictures below). Sometimes we were pleasantly surprised, but overall we were slightly underwhelmed. 350 participants is nothing to sneeze at. But even in a small city like Amsterdam they easily drown in the general city-scape. Lets call it a good start and hope this is a first step towards a general solidarity and a change towards less violence against members of the LGBTQI+ community. Meanwhile enjoy our pictures.