Going really local with the locals with LGBTQI networks Meeting LGBQTI people in the 'hood

The traditional view of LGBTQI scene is that of bars, clubs, parties and events. Since the mid nineties the digital scene has been added to that, with dating apps, chatrooms and other online hookup methods. But in Amsterdam there is also since about 10 years another LGBTQI scene. It is organized by locals for locals. And local is really locally in this case: the new scene is often organized on neighborhood level. It is almost a Slow Gay Scene as opposed to the fast paced party scene.

Changing gay scene, changing way of organizing

Between 2000 and 2005 dramatic changes took place for LGBTQI people in Amsterdam. Many bars closed, because people started to date online and visit one-off parties instead of fixed pubs and clubs. Due to medical progress the average age of gay men started to rise.  And gay and lesbian couples got married and started families. After years of growing tolerance, more LGBTQI got attacked and abused.  Around 2005 the LGBTQI community responded to these changes by going local.

LGBTQI networks logoAs a reaction to these changes the Pink neighborhood drinks were organized in several parts of Amsterdam. The background of this idea is simple it is nice to meet like-minded people in your own neighborhood. And it can be practical as well: you meet people who have tips about a great new shop, you can address local issues with each other or your can find a new gym buddy to go to your local gym. But most important you start to get a network in the neighborhood that can be of great value when you need help. And so in about 9 different neighborhoods in Amsterdam you have these informal networks.

PinkWest logoEvery network organizes drinks, but each one has it’ own local flavor. Some have a drink every month and others several times a year. Some have seasonal themed activities, like a summer picnic in the park. Sometimes a drink is “spiked” with a talk by a special guest, like a representative of the LGBTQI network of the police or a LGBTQI icon who lives locally. But what they have all in common that they networks link up with local entrepreneurs and have the support of city-wide LGBTQI organizations such as LGBTQI sport clubs, a gay choir or a party organization.

LGBTQI networks – our experience

We have attended a few of these drinks and they are a relaxed way of getting to know people in your neighborhood. There are no obligations and the organizers always make sure that new faces are introduced to regular visitors. One little trick is giving everybody a little label, where you write your postcode on. With this visibly on attached on your clothing, it is a neat little trick to find your closest LGBTQI neighbors during these drinks. Especially when you are new to a neighborhood it is a great way to get local, even if you are staying for just a few days or weeks. At the bottom of this article we will give you a full list of the local networks and how to get into contact with them.

Grey power in this global village

The generation that started the LGBTQI liberation, is now turning old and gray (if they survived the AIDS crisis).  And that posed whole new challenges. How to organise your life after you got your pension and you have more free time, but also get more infirm? How to keep your social life going when friends die and you don’t have family around?

And again a new way of organising a gay community sprung up: the Pink City Village (or in Dutch: Roze Stadsdorp). The idea is similar to the neighborhood networks: organizing activities, so people meet up and connect with each other. The difference this time is that the Pink City Village is city-wide and not a neighborhood network. And of course the target audience is more specific: LGTBQI people from 50 years and upwards. The activities differ from walking trips and cinema visits, to lectures and a playing pool together. These activities are also often organized during the daytime, so it is easier for the senior queens and dykes to visit them.

More than the neighborhood networks, the Pink City Village also is a resource of information for the older LGBTQI person. Their website is full of useful information about care for LGBTQI people, LGBTQI housing for elderly people and so on. In this way they help the older gay men and women finding their way around the practical challenges of older age.

Getting into contact

Wether these networks are something for you while staying in Amsterdam is totally depending on you specific circumstances. Especially when you are staying longer in the city, these networks can be great to get out of the tourist or expat bubble and get real local with the locals. All activities are open, so it is easy to look them up and drop by. Here are the links to their events calendars:

  • Pink City Village for 50+ LGBTQI people (only in Dutch)
  • PinkWest (De Baarsjes, Bos en Lommer, Oud West and Westerpark neighborhoods)
  • Piribo (De Pijp and Rivierenbuurt neighborhood in southern part of Amsterdam)
  • Pink1094/1095 (Indische buurt neighborhood in eastern part of Amsterdam)
  • PinkMeer (Watergraafsmeer, another eastern part of Amsterdam)
  • Pink Nieuw West (the most western part of Amsterdam)
  • PinkIJburg (the newest part of Amsterdam in the east)
  • PinkZuid (the posh south part of Amsterdam)
  • Lesbocode (since a couple of months no visible activities)