Bridge named after lesbian icon Bet van Beeren

The city of Amsterdam honored Bet van Beeren, an hero for many lesbians, by naming a bridge after her. Bet van Beeren was the legendary owner of bar ‘t Mandje on the Zeedijk from 1927 onwards. She was an outspoken and open lesbian in a time that it took a lot of courage to be open and out. The city named a bridge closeby her old bar after Bet.

Bet van Beren a pioneer for LGBTQ rights

Bet van Beeren (Feb.12, 1902-July 16, 1967) knew from an early age she was attracted to women. She was a pioneer in human rights and she openly welcomed gays, lesbians etc. in her own bar in times when homosexuality was not commonly accepted, to mingle with the sailors, neighbours, artists and intellectuals who also frequented the little bar she owned.

At the age of 25 she bought the bar from her uncle Toon and renamed it Café ’t Mandje.  Her bar became one of the first bars where homosexual men and women didn’t have to hide their sexual orientation. In a leather coat she would tear across town on her motorbike, sometimes with a new girl friend.

Bet was  also a very charitable person. She would arrange for  the local kids to get rollerskates from the department store De Bijenkorf. Or she would summon the pimps to bring their big cars around so they could drive the old folks to the shore for a day.

She was a legendary landlady with strict and sometimes funny rules. Bet also had some peculiar habits -like cutting off men’s ties. And despite the open atmosphere in the bar, she wouldn’t allow any kissing between men or women. That was a purely practical rule: if the vice police would see that, they would close the bar.

Bet died on July 16, 1967 after 40 years of running her famous bar. Her sister continued the bar for 15 years, but had to close it down. But in 2008 it reopened again, becoming again one of the corner stones for the LGBTQ community in Amsterdam.

Bridges of Amsterdam

Amsterdam has many of hundreds or even thousands of bridges. Many of them have no names. So last year the city council called upon the public to suggest worthy names for nameless bridges. The suggestion for naming the bridge between the Korte Stormsteeg and the Korte Niezel looked not successful. Everyone thought this bridge was named the Stormsteegbrug. This was however an unofficial name, so there was an opportunity to have the name of Bet van Beeren attached to this bridge. Quite appropriate because it is just around the corner of her old bar.

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