Amsterdam – Dutch teenagers will be joining Amsterdam’s Gay Pride parade for the first time on Saturday. The Netherlands is the first country to include homosexual minors – some as young as 11 – in the three-day gay festival taking place in Amsterdam this weekend.
A special boat carrying teenage gays and their parents will sail through the Amsterdam canals on Saturday during the famous Gay Pride parade, known for its sexual provocativeness.
Contrary to the other participating boats, everyone on the teenage boat will be dressed casually and in a non-erotic manner.
In addition, the teenagers will remain “as far as possible” from those boats known for carrying the greatest exhibitionists, such as the black leather boat.
The initiative of including a teenage gay boat in the parade was launched in January by 14-year-old Danny Hoekzema, who came out of the closet himself as a very young teenager.
Hoekzema approached the Dutch gay teenage magazine Expreszo (“Deliberately so”) and the Dutch gay emancipation organization COC. He requested that a special boat for teenagers be included in the world-famous gay festivities.
“Teenage gays have a difficult time finding a date,” he explained to reporters. “They need to have more meeting places. It is important that they can meet gay peers.”
He warned that without this “they might end up getting involved with people who are much older than they are, people in their mid- twenties and up. That should be prevented.”
But Amsterdam city council members and even mayor Job Cohen of the Labour Party, known as an advocate of gay rights, were initially against the idea of including a boat for teenage gays.
They were concerned that exposing young teenagers to the exhibitionism and licentiousness, so characteristic of Amsterdam Gay Pride, would harm the youngsters.
Critics, including Cohen, also wondered whether it was in the teenagers’ best interests to position themselves so firmly as homosexual at ages starting as young as 11 years old.
After meeting with the organizers of the Gay Pride parade, a compromise was reached. The organization promised Cohen only teenagers who were accompanied by at least one parent would be allowed on the teenage boat.
In addition, the organizers said, they would keep the teenage boat at a safe distance from the sexually most provocative boats.
On the website of Expreszo magazine, young gays on Friday were divided over the teenage gay boat.
Half of them claimed “an exhibitionist gay parade has nothing to do with the emancipation of gay rights anyhow.” The other half said they were “dying to come to Amsterdam.”
Two 13-year-old girls wrote they had “wanted to participate in the biggest gay event of the year already for many years.”
Richard Bakker, spokesman of the Dutch Child Protection Services told Deutsche-Presse Agentur
- Source: DPA, Deutsche-Presse Agentur, Aug. 3, 2007
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