Speeches Pride Walk
Rules for during the Pride Walk:
During the Pride Walk we follow to the instructions of the stewards and the traffic controllers;
During the Pride Walk we look out for each other, if someone is feeling unwell or if you see something, say something to our stewards;
It is not allowed to consume alcohol or narcotics during the Pride Walk event;
The use of amplifiers, such as a megaphone or microphone, is not allowed;
We keep the city clean, trash doesn’t belong on the streets, so please, put it in a bin.
Speech Mayor Dijsselbloem
Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the first Pride Walk in Eindhoven. This is the 'launch event' of the annual Eindhoven Pride that will be organized from 2024. That's a milestone!
Another milestone took place earlier this year, in February 2023. Namely the amendment of Article 1 of the Constitution. It has been added that discrimination based on sexual orientation or disability is not allowed. Another step towards equality. But… unfortunately we are not there yet.
That can start small with things that are not meant to be upsetting, but that makes you upset nonetheless. For example: forms at companies and institutions that only provide the choice 'man' and 'woman'. But it is also about the ease with which people use the word 'gay' as swear word, for example. It's about chants in stadiums.
And who can forget, earlier this year, in our own city. Youngsters were verbally abused, a volunteer from the COC Eindhoven and region was beaten and the flag was stolen and burned. The same weekend there were incidents in Groningen and Zeist. The following week Rotterdam made the national news, because protests broke out against drag queens who read to children.
The previously won rights and social liberties still seem uncertain, at any time, for anyone. In short… unfortunately we are not there yet. That is why it is good that this year the Pride Walk and Pride Vibes Festival are taking place in Eindhoven. And from next year a real Eindhoven Pride is planned.
Visibility is important. Not just on days like this, but all year round. That is why I am also proud of the Rainbow artwork that lies here before you and me. Every day thousands of people will walk here and see this work of art.
How wonderful would it be if this made people aware of the diversity that makes us so beautiful and special as a society. And maybe learn something about the community and how easy it is to be inclusive to others yourself as a person.
I too am still learning every day. During the Remembrance Day on May 4, I said out of habit: 'Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls'. Since then it has been brought to my attention that there are better and more inclusive ways of addressing everyone.
I want to wish everyone a nice Pride Walk, so I'm doing it differently now: lots of fun, dear everyone. With a nice Walk ahead, and afterwards: a wonderful festival!
Speech Merijn Sommer
I'm Merijn and I'm non-binary.
When I tell people that, they ask me to explain myself. "What is that?" Or do they tell me how brave I am, simply because I'm so open about it.
How brave it is to be myself in a world that has just stopped seeing me as mentally ill. How brave it is to be visible in a world where my existence is a topic of debate. In which people like me are attacked in the streets.
And then comes the realization that I am not even the most targeted victim of this violence, this hatred. My heart goes out to trans women, trans people of color and people who have no support from friends or family.
There is currently a small but very outspoken group of transphobic and homophobic people. The kind of people who destroy our flags, but groups like Gender Doubt as well, who try to convince politicians that we cannot make our own decisions about our own lives.
Trans people are people like everyone else with beautiful and meaningful lives. Things go wrong when others decide that they have an opinion about our existence. You notice this in the political debate, and even more so in the anger surrounding the debate from people who are not even trans themselves.
You can see that in the inhuman health system, in which you have to fight to prove that you are ‘sufficiently trans’. That is, if you survive the waiting list at all. And the common thread is that others think that we cannot or should not decide what our life looks like .
And that's precisely why I want to be visible, because I have the energy and the position to do that, and I have a support system that I can depend on. I want to stand up for the group whose voice needs to be heard.
I want to show that we don't just exist, we are thriving! I am a trans person, but I am also a happy human with a wonderful life.
I would like to thank organizations such as Queerhoven and gendermore for this. Organizations that give me the space to be myself in every possible and colourful way.
Community support is so important! To know that you are not alone and know that we support each other. We are there for each other, and no one can ever take this support away from us. Together we are much stronger against whatever is happening in the world.
Keep fighting and keep supporting each other.
Empower each other.
And love each other.
We are here in all our beautiful colours.
And we deserve to be here.
Member of Parliament Lisa Westerveld
It's so good to see all of you here today.
How bizarre is it that we are all here, in 2023. That we have to keep fighting for something that should be self-evident: namely being able to be yourself. How bizarre is it that conservative forces want to turn back time. To take away our, my and your rights. That we even have radical right-wing parties in parliament that do everything they can to attack women, disregard people of colour and humiliate LGBTI+ people. That they start lies and hate campaigns to turn people against each other.
It is no longer obvious that you can be who you are. That's serious. It has direct, life-threatening consequences for people. We see this in the recent increase of hate crimes. Name calling, threatening or attacking someone for who they are. Hateful words increasingly lead to actions.
Recently at the COC building here, in Eindhoven. Where the rainbow flag was set on fire in April. And young visitors were intimidated by football hooligans. I notice it in my own work too. When I post messages on social media about LGBTI+ rights. I'll spare you the hateful comments.
We should never think this is normal. We have fought too hard for that acceptance to just let it slide in the wrong direction. Too many people from the LGBTI+ community have struggled and suffered before we as a society have reached this point. And that is why we must continue this fight right now. In response to the hate. We owe that to those who have struggled before us. We must do the same for our future generation.
The Netherlands must continue to play an important role in LGBTI+ emancipation. And I will fight that battle from Parliament. Through an initiative with other political parties about criminalizing conversion therapies. By insisting on implementing the Rainbow-Agreement of COC. By ensuring that important subjects such as identity are discussed in education. And that schools are a safe place for students. But that is not enough. Hate must not spread further in our society.
So put those football games on hold when homophobic chants occur. Stop the subsidies from discriminatory organisations, sports associations, employers and clubs. There is also hope, and I would like to close with that. For I am proud to stand here with you today. On the first Pride Walk in Eindhoven. To be able to show that we will not stop. That we in Eindhoven are working on a safe space for everyone.
And we are not alone. All over the country we see a counter-reaction to the threats, the hatred. For example, through the flag campaign, in which thousands of rainbow flags were hoisted throughout the country. People all over the country told you: you are not alone.
But also because sexual orientation is explicitly mentioned in Article 1 of our Constitution. Because we have included in the law that education must be a safe place for students. It is so important to pass this on to children. Because, we should never accept that you are attacked on your 'being'. We must never accept that you cannot be yourself.
I will continue to work for that every day. And I want to thank you for doing that too. By being here and speaking out. So that we have a society, a Netherlands, where everyone can be themselves. We are not there yet, but we will continue the fight!
Bianca van Kaathoven
I am a very proud citizen of Eindhoven and part of our community, when I see that us all together here today.
The first Pride walk in Eindhoven, a great milestone, but as far as I'm concerned also a new beginning. So many people have gone before us and so many generations will come after us. When I came out almost 10 years ago, it wasn't a problem at all in our house. I was able to discover who I was and how I wanted to live my life. I think that was possible, partly because my generation can stand on the shoulders of the generations before us.
A dear friend turned 76 last week. Thanks in part to his husband and him, just by being who they are, over 50 years ago, I was able to be who I am and I am immensely grateful to the generations before me for that. But we are not there yet. Visibility is needed, perhaps even more so now than in recent years.
There are still young people who doubt the meaning of life, whether they can act on their feelings, our language hardens and there is more and more visible aggression; words of hatred are turned into deeds of hatred. With an absolute low point the attack on our young people at our COC two months ago. Our safe place was attacked and young people were scared to death.
That's why we are here today; to celebrate who we are and to show together that our city is a place for our community Here you can be who you are. I am therefore extremely grateful that so many of us are here together and I wish everyone a wonderful Pride Walk. Let this be the start of very nice new steps in our queer Eindhoven.
I'm Erwin and I've been doing entertainment as a Dragqueen under the name Memsy Mellons for almost 20 years now. In 2009 I moved to Eindhoven. I immediately felt at home, partly because of the friends I had made there a few years before.
The first confrontation with my drag in my neighbourhood was very funny. I had put on my makeup for an assignment and was loading my stuff into the car when people passed by. At first they looked a bit strange to which I smiled back (which I always do) and she smiled back, nodded and a friendly word was exchanged. So nothing wrong with that. Contact with the people in my neighbourhood actually always went in this way, young and older alike.
In the last two to three years I notice that that friendly nod is becoming a little less friendly and that a word is rarely exchanged. I've even had the experience that people called me “freak” just loud enough whilst walking away. I'm not responding to this myself to prevent further escalation.
A simple conversation can give someone some more insights in why someone does something. If you just ask a question respectfully, you will get an answer from me. Not everyone has to agree completely in terms of opinion, religion or lifestyle. I do not always agree with some things other people say, but that does not make me respect them less.
And that is the keyword.. RESPECT. For every fellow human being, even if they differ from me. That's actually what we're missing in this zeitgeist. Respect each other despite our differences. We don't have to agree with each other, but we also don't have to go at each other and beat up someone because that person is "different." Unlike as a Drag Queen, as a Homosexual or as a transgender, we deserve just as much respect as someone who goes to watch a game in a football shirt. Or someone who goes to work in a suit.
The aggression that some of us face is unacceptable and should be renounced by all. This has to stop and this is only possible if everyone speaks up. If a parent does not want his or her child to be confronted with drags, then you just don't take them to a drag show. It is that simple. I do believe that children should also know that these different and colourful people also have a be part of our society. But here again, that is my opinion and if someone disagrees with this, it is that person's choice and I respect that.
Respect each other despite the differences. Life can be so beautiful. So let everyone live their life the way they want to live it themselves.
My name is Memsy Mellons, thank you for listening.
To see the rainbow square you can check: www.queer040.nl/regenboogplein