Today, 1 April, is the 10-year anniversary of the first official marriages of gay couples Amsterdam, making the Netherlands the world’s first country to legally recognize same-sex unions. Three gay and one lesbian couple said “I do”— or “ja” in Dutch that day to secure most of the rights and protections that married hetero couples get automatically with their vows.
"We know we're a symbol of gay marriage," said Anne-Marie Thus, who married her sweetheart on that day with their baby son in tow. "But we're just ordinary people, and that's what we try to show the world."
Some 30,000 Dutch gay people have followed their lead and 14 other countries now recognize gay marriage. "It's one of the most beautiful export products of the Netherlands," said Henk Krol, activist, editor of the Gay Krant and initiator of the first gay marriages. "Everyone thinks about clocks and Delftware, but in the future people will recognize that this change in society started in the Netherlands and I'm really proud it happened here."
To mark the anniversary, mayor Eberhard van der Laan will preside over two more gay unions in the Dutch capital (as will Krol, who's since been licensed to perform marriages). Although they're closed to the public, there are several other events this weekend that are made for the masses.
"Ten Years of Gay Marriage"
This multimedia photo exhibit will highlight the struggle and rewards homosexuals faced on their way to the altar. If you enjoy looking at other people's wedding albums, don't miss it. 1 April to May 8, City Hall, Amstel 1, free
Gay Bride and Gay Life 2011
This successor to last year's successful Gay Bride fair has been expanded to include gay lifestyle as well. Some 60 exhibitors will be displaying all you need for that special day and beyond – from cars and clothes to flowers and whirlpools. While organizer Marguerite de Wit admits there's "nothing" that gay about what's on offer (with the possible exception of the pink Rolls Royce available for rent), if you're looking for his-and-his tuxedos in a no-gawking setting, this is the place. 2 and 3 April, Westergasfabriek.
Walk with a Pink Touch
A two-hour guided stroll through the city pointing out objects and places of interest in the gay community. 2 and 3 April.
While Amsterdam's Reguliersdwarsstraat has long been the street to seek out the gay party scene, its "1990s slick, minimalist vibe", said Time Out Amsterdam's Gay and Lesbian Editor Mark Smith, has given way to newer ventures off that beaten track that "focus on the cosier – or Dutch gezellig – aspects of social drinking." Hence the cute Cozy Bar, billed as the city's "new gay hangout" and Bump, which opens its historic doors this weekend, revealing hot pink, Madonna-plastered walls within. And why not toast to the newest gay unions (if not yours, then somebody else's) at PRIK, where Prosecco Sunday (3 April) features pink and white bubbly on tap for only 2.50 euro all day long.
For more information on the weekend's events check out (in Dutch) WesterGasfabriek and Organisatiebureau De Wit.