Wet Decadence

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Today is once again the climax of the Amsterdam Gay Pride festival, namely the infamous Canal Parade. And now it has a dedicated YouTube channel, so anyone from elsewhere who was not already aware can gauge the depths to which our Western Civilization has fallen. Or maybe it’s just a bunch of people having some flamboyant fun:

Yes, those guys there in uniform on one of the floats towards the end waving to the crowds were police officers – you noticed them?

Keep in mind, though, that this short clip was the teaser – so to speak – for the live broadcast of this year’s/today’s Canal Parade planned by the Dutch media organization AVRO, i.e. it shows a parade from some past year. For this year, some of you out there might be pleased to hear that festivities have been repeatedly interrupted by heavy downpours, accompanied occasionally by thunder and lightning! Make of that what you will.

Prague takes its turn at this sort of thing next weekend – meaning a Gay Pride festival, and actually for the very first time. Should be interesting! I mean, how will society there react to events like this? No canals there though – just a river, and it’s too wide for any such aquatic parade.

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Dutch Military at August’s Gay Pride

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

One distinct Amsterdam “happening” that we’ve been glad to cover previously in these pages is the “Gay Pride” festival, occurring each year the first weekend of August and with a crowded, often rather bawdy boat-parade along the outermost of the city’s famous set of concentric canals, the Prinsengracht, as its centerpiece. It’s always a blast for those who can hitch a ride along with one of the boats, or even get the funds together for one’s organization to sponsor its own such boat – as long as your organization does not mind the affiliation with the homosexual cause. These days, though, when it comes to Amsterdam it’s hard to think of many organizations that would mind, other than the Muslim ones.

Then again, up to now the Dutch military has also not been too happy with any sign of its presence at the Gay Pride parade – like soldiers floating along on the boats while in uniform, something that happened last year and led to some sort of uproar (presumably including sanctions against those military personnel). But now that has changed; the Volkskrant reports today (but in a story credited to the Dutch news agency ANP) that permanent Defense Ministry undersecretary (Staatssecretaris) Jack de Vries has announced, through a spokesman, that participating in Gay Pride in your uniform is OK – but that that should still in no way be interpreted as official Defense Ministry participation in, or endorsement of, the festival.

Perhaps the really interesting thing here is that this is not just some spontaneous decision from the Ministry, but rather is in reaction to encouragement from the Dutch lower house of Parliament (the Tweede Kamer) to make such a policy change. That, it seems, was ultimately among the more significant follow-on effects of last year’s controversy.

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Chinese Christian Community Under Pressure

Friday, August 8th, 2008

The Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad is somewhat of an outlier in the European media sphere, as it is expressly a Christian newspaper. You can see right there in its logo, written at the top: Christelijk betrokken, or “Engaged in a Christian manner” (“Christianly engaged,” if you like). Surf to the paper’s website on Sunday and you’ll find nothing: that’s the Lord’s day of rest, after all.

It’s not alone, though: the Reformatorisch Dagblad, or “Reformed Daily,” is similar, although that website does stay open on Sundays. People should not confuse the allegedly “anything goes” atmosphere of cosmopolitan cities like Amsterdam (see this weblog’s recent coverage of the famous yearly Gay Pride parade there, for example) with Dutch culture as a whole, which in fact features some enclaves which can easily hold their own in the Christian piety department with any of the American Amish communities.

The Nederlands Dagblad reports today, as the 2008 Olympic Games open in Beijing, that the Chinese church leader Zhang Mingxuan was recently arrested by the authorities in his hometown in the province of Henan, along with his wife and another associate, and brought to an office of the “security services” in that province’s capital, Zhengzhou. This follows Zhang’s being driven out of his Beijing by the authorities at the beginning of last month, and then out of the city itself two weeks ago.

The Stichting De Ondergrondse Kerk (a Dutch name, of course: “Foundation of the Underground Church”) has issued a call to make these opening days of the Olympic Games days of prayer on behalf of the persecuted Christians in China.

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Everybody On Board for the Parade!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

I don’t like to talk about local affairs here except on rare occasions; this is hardly intended to be any sort of “Amsterdam blog.” One of the few things I’ll make an exception for is the “Gay Pride” festival occurring here every first week of August. It is known world-wide, to a considerable extent takes over the city, and features a unique “parade” on the Saturday (today!) that makes its way along the city’s canals (actually, mainly the Prinsengracht), not its streets.

It also enjoys a rather high level of public support. That was perhaps the main point of the article from Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza that I covered here on Tuesday, which noted that, for the first time, a national cabinet minister will be officially present in the parade (namely Ronald Plasterk, of Education, Culture, and Science) as well as an official boat from the police. But it turns out that Gazeta didn’t know the half of it (and probably did not want to know the half of it, in any case): this whole new politician phenomenon has mushroomed so rapidly that not only have plenty other national Dutch lawmakers scrambled to find a place for themselves for today on a Gay Pride boat, but questioning eyebrows are even being raised in the direction of politicians who will not be present. (more…)

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Gay Pride Parade in Polish Eyes

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Coming up this very next weekend: Gay Pride Amsterdam! What’s in it for you if you’re not gay? Well, the parade of boats through the city’s canals – actually, basically the Prinsengracht – is the highlight of the whole weekend and attracts 350,000 spectators, or so the above-linked website claims, so it’s something to consider going and watching, as long as you also realize that the “entertainment” on the passing boats verges into outright nudity not infrequently and into sheer camp always. Plus, there will be gay street parties all over the place from Friday to Sunday. Amsterdam is generally a big enough party-place on a summer weekend for one to be able to find a suitable heterosexual vibe somewhere, if that is more your thing – and meanwhile just think of all the sales- and tax-revenue those hundreds of thousands of visitors are bringing to the city! (more…)

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