Category: LGBTQ events

I’ve been nominated for an LGBT+ award in The Hague!

I’ve been nominated for an LGBT+ award in The Hague!

I’m so happy I can finally share it with you! I’ve been nominated for the John Blankenstein Prijs 2019 with Meemoeder.com! This is an LGBT+ award in my city of The Hague. It’s such an honor, and I would like to thank everyone who has recommended me as a candidate. Below, I will explain what the award means, what the process is like, and what being nominated means to me. 

If you want to read the Dutch version of this blog post, you can find it here.

‘I’ve been nominated for an LGBT+ award in The Hague!’ I’m so happy I can finally share it with you! I’ve been nominated for the John Blankenstein Prijs 2019 with Meemoeder.com! This is an LGBT+ award in my city of The Hague. It’s such an honor, and I would like to thank everyone who has recommended me as a candidate. Here, I explain what the award means, what the process is like, and what being nominated means to me: http://bit.ly/JohnBlankenstein2019EN

What is this LGBT+ award called John Blankenstein Prijs 2019?

The Municipality of The Hague initiated the John Blankenstein Prijs in 2009. This annual LGBT+ emancipation award was created to highlight and stimulate initiatives that contribute to the LGBT+ emancipation. The award is named after the late referee John Blankenstein. The former referee openly came out and has done a lot for LGBT+ people in sports and society. That is why his sister Karin founded the John Blankenstein Foundation in 2008, which advocates acceptance of the LGBT+ community in sports.

With the annual granting of the John Blankenstein Prijs, the Municipality of The Hague marks the importance of opening up about LGBT+ issues and provides a platform for LGBT+ initiatives. Anyone who contributes to this is eligible for the award. COC Haaglanden is in charge of the organization of the award, which is the local chapter of our country’s biggest advocacy organization.

Ceremony John Blankenstein Prijs 2019

The ceremony is this Wednesday evening. Out of the twenty-two candidates, eleven candidates were nominated. I am one of those final eleven nominees. It is a great honor for me to be on this beautiful list of LGBT+ initiatives from The Hague.

The jury consists of Karin Blankenstein, Kasia Oberc, and Winston van Niel. From these eleven nominees, they have already selected a top three. This top three and the final winner will be announced by alderman Bert van Alphen during the ceremony. That’s pretty exciting!

The winner will receive an amount of €2,500 that should benefit the promotion of LGBT+ emancipation. Moreover, the winner can count on publicity for a whole year as an ambassador. I don’t dare to dream about what I could do with that prize money and publicity. That could really contribute to the quality and growth of my website and YouTube channel, which in turn would help in how I reach LGBT+ people worldwide. However, with ten other beautiful initiatives, there’s not a high probability 😉

Recognition with this LGBT+ award

It hasn’t been easy, especially last year, to keep Meemoeder.com’s website and YouTube channel running, to publish blogs in Dutch that are of use to (future) lesbian parents, and to publish blogs, vlogs, and interviews in English about queer representation in media. Maybe that’s why it feels so good that I get this recognition at the end of 2019. I feel supported by the people who nominated me as a candidate.

Not many people in The Hague know what I do. I mainly reach national and international LGBT+ people. That’s what makes this nomination so special to me; it’s an LGBT+ award in my own city. Whether I win or not, I want everyone to know how special it feels and how grateful I am!

Love,

Greetje den Holder

BiPositive Podcast Interviewed Me. This is What We Talked About!

BiPositive Podcast Interviewed Me. This is What We Talked About!

You may know that I occasionally get to interview interesting LGBT+ people and allies on my international con trips. Well, a while back, I was interviewed myself, and that was a refreshing experience. It is funny to be on the other side. Mari and MD invited me for an episode of BiPositive Podcast. Thanks for the invite and the relaxed conversation!

Fun fact: we are all living in The Hague, and we were all at ClexaCon London, but we didn’t know about each other. We found out about it on social media afterward. So, this is the first time we met!

In this blog post, I will highlight some of the subjects we discussed. As we talked for about an hour, this is only a small part, and you should definitely listen to the entire episode! You can follow BiPositive Podcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can listen to the episode on a bunch of websites, including iTunes and SoundCloud.

‘BiPositive Podcast Interviewed Me. This is What We Talked About!’ I was invited for an episode of BiPositive Podcast. In this blog post, I highlight some of the subjects we discussed, such as lesbian parenting and feeling safe as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I also list where you can listen to the episode: http://bit.ly/BiPositive

BiPositive Podcast: the start of Meemoeder.com

I think most of my followers abroad know me from my LGBT+ con trips but have no idea what meemoeder stands for and why my website is called this way. It was indeed the first question I was asked.

Simply put, meemoeder is the word the Dutch government gives the non-biological mom of a married lesbian couple that has a kid together. When my wife was pregnant, I was looking for experiences from other lesbian moms, but I could not find any. I could only find info from the government and lawyers. Also, at almost every parenting blog, I was addressed as a father, which started to bug me after a while.

So, I started to describe my own experience (in Dutch) so that others would not end up in the same situation as me. This is my way of giving back to the LGBT+ community. I am now one of the first search results, which means others can find me easily.

I noticed I always somehow ended up talking about movies as they are one of my passions. Then, I saw videos of the first ClexaCon edition on YouTube, and I received a press pass for the second edition. That’s how this whole English version of my website and my YouTube channel came into existence. Funny how things sometimes go, right?!

BiPositive Podcast: being a lesbian parent among other parents

Mari and MD wanted to know how it feels to be a lesbian parent among other parents. Thankfully, most of the time, there is no difference. I do remember two incidents when things were different for me.

One funny situation occurred at Schiphol Airport when we were taking a trip to the U.S. and Canada when our son was eleven months old. We did not even think about bringing his birth certificate. That caused some problems when we tried to leave The Netherlands.

The border control told us that they could not see if he was our baby. We were finally allowed to go on our trip by saying he has my wife’s looks and my last name, and that we were both wearing the same wedding rings. We were pretty scared when we crossed the American-Canadian border that trip, but nothing happened, fortunately.

Momma’s boy

One not so funny situation occurred a while back. I had an appointment somewhere and what often happens during such an appointment, is that you start talking about your family. You know the type of appointments, like at the hairdresser.

This woman started asking how we got our son, and I explained. Then, she started calling him my wife’s son, and I constantly had to say ‘our son.’ And it’s not like you can leave the appointment halfway through, so it’s just awkward all around.

I don’t know why but I started showing her pictures. Then, she started saying things like: “Oh yes, he really looks like her. Oh, that’s really a momma’s boy.” It hurt me, but I still have no idea how to respond. I did turn it into a Dutch blog post.

BiPositive Podcast: social stigma

Mari and MD also wondered if we were worried about a social stigma for our kid before my wife became pregnant. I answered that we still are. I guess we’ll find out when he goes to school.

Right now, at his daycare center, it is no problem at all because toddlers don’t know any better. We are hopeful that things are better for him now than they were for me growing up. I think there is a change in how kids deal with homosexuality nowadays. Therefore, we hope his teenage years will be okay.

The one thing that we try to teach him is confidence. If you have confidence, you can speak up or fight back when something bad happens. If nothing bad happens, well great, you have confidence.

Our episode of BiPositive Podcast

I focused on the lesbian parenting part in this blog post as it is something I rarely talk about on the English version of my website. I thought it would be nice to give you my ideas on this topic for a change. We talked about plenty of other topics. As Mari and MD are from Ukraine and France, we talked about the differences in our cultures and in how safe we feel being queer. Naturally, ClexaCon and queer representation in media came up. SO, I encourage you to go to iTunes or SoundCloud and to listen to our episode of BiPositive Podcast!

5 New Queer Documentaries on Queer Day 2018 by IDFA

5 New Queer Documentaries on Queer Day 2018 by IDFA

November 19, IDFA (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam) held the sixth edition of Queer Day. Queer Day 2018 kicked off with a video essay by queer artist Finn Paul, followed by a visit to Rio de Janeiro through the eyes of transgender icon Luana Muniz and a look into the life of Mexican wrestler Cassandro de Exotico. The day winded up with a portrait of performance artist Linn da Quebrada in Bixa Travesty with a live performance by Guillermo Blinker (OTION) and ended with an intimate portrait of a porn star in Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life In between these last two films, the audience was welcome at the Queer Drinks in the foyer of EYE. I could not stay until the very end, but I can tell you what I thought of the first four documentaries.

‘5 New Queer Documentaries on IDFA’s Queer Day’ November 19, IDFA held the sixth edition of Queer Day. They showed five new documentaries of which I was able to watch four: Beside the Water, Bixa Travesty, Obscuro Barroco, and Cassandro, the Exotico! Here, you can read what I thought about them so you can decide if you want to watch them yourself: http://bit.ly/QueerDay18

First documentary on Queer Day 2018: Beside the water, 1999-2004 by Finn Paul

Info by IDFA: Queer artist Finn Paul tells the story of transgender sexual awakening in this provocative video essay that looks back at the early 2000s when transgender lives were less visible. He energetically combines both history and photographs of lovers to create a personal story of sexual discovery. Real and imaginary events blend in a mix of erotic snapshots, found footage, home videos, postcards, and desert landscapes. At the same time, he criticizes the misconceptions about queer people that existed at the time.

Finn Paul not only delves into his own personal collection but also creates new, imagined images. This way, he proposes alternative ways to bring a trans-past to the surface of his memory. This unconventional video diary rewrites the past to herald a queer future, with a place for pleasure, sincerity, and beauty.

My experience

An essay film is not the type of movie I usually watch. There were some moving images but mostly photos. It was interesting to see and hear these different types of footage, such as listening to a voicemail and watching a photo of an envelope that once contained a love letter. It is exactly why I love visiting film festivals; they open up a world to you that you may not have looked for yourself. It felt like a visit to the museum while simply sitting in your chair. So, I am happy that IDFA and the director offered me this opportunity. It is definitely a creative piece of work.

In terms of story or impact, it did not really move me personally but I can understand that if you are transgender yourself, this short documentary can be of much value to you given the fact that much transgender history is erased or hidden.

Second documentary on Queer Day 2018: Obscuro Barroco by Evangelia Kranioti

Info by IDFA: [This] is a spellbinding, hallucinatory film essay that wanders off the beaten narrative track and takes us to Rio de Janeiro, the go-to city for anyone wanting to transform into a new version of themselves at the exhilarating, gender-bending carnival, or one of the many nightclubs for the queer scene.

This visual homage meanders through the steamy clubs, the vivid carnival parades with their buttock-shaking dancers, and the raging protests, before drifting onwards into the nocturnal streets of Rio, a city of extremes where queer culture is in full bloom.

Our guide and narrator is the famous Brazilian transgender activist Luana Muniz (1961-2017), who is sensual and melancholy as she recites lines of poetry from Clarice Lispector’s experimental monologue Água Viva. Reflections on identity, aging, and self-expression all flow into the lights of Rio. Political events that herald a new conservative era seep into the background of this dizzying dream.

My experience

I do not really know what to say about this documentary. It felt very much like a dream. You see Luana Muniz but not enough to establish a real connection with her. You see many different images from Rio, which offer very bright and beautiful colors. In the meantime, you hear this poem being recited. I was constantly wondering what it all meant. As a result, I was not really present, which may have distracted me from the true meaning of the documentary. I can see that it was very creative, though.

Third documentary on Queer Day 2018: Cassandro, the Exotico! by Marie Losier

Info by IDFA: Cassandro is often referred to as the Liberace of lucha libre (Spanish for “freestyle wrestling”). This tough Mexican show wrestler wears glittering costumes and has more than earned his wrestling stripes in his gender-bending exótico persona. In this intimate 16mm portrait, we follow this likable entertainer and athlete in the twilight of his 26-year career. His body is, at last, succumbing to the years of broken bones, concussions, and alcohol and drug abuse.

The characteristic color palette of this analog film perfectly complements Cassandro’s life: his spectacular costumes, his home filled with trinkets and the poor neighborhood where he grew up. On just a few occasions the protagonist himself appears in a Skype conversation. These are often his darkest moments, and it’s in these scenes that director Marie Losier becomes most deeply involved. Cassandro needs to reconcile himself with the prospect of his impending retirement. But without the spotlight, who is he?

My experience

Because we closely follow one person, I was drawn in much more than in the previous documentaries. When Cassandro is happy or cracking jokes, you laugh with him. When he tells you about his dark past, upcoming retirement or relapse, you feel for him. And when he is adjusting his hair for the umpteenth time, you chuckle at his vanity. You admire his perseverance when you see his scars, x-rays, and casts. Finally, when you see him jump from the ceiling during wrestling matches, you understand his talent.

Fourth documentary on Queer Day: Bixa Travesty by Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman

Info by IDFA: Raw, vital and sometimes very intimate portrait of the Brazilian artiste Linn da Quebrada, a “tranny fag” who uses her own body as her medium of political expression. Her performances are confrontational, subversive and colorful—and they offer no room at all for a heteronormative perspective. She deconstructs the self-image of the alpha man and examines what a tranny fag really is.

Public and private life are completely intertwined in this journey of discovery, with discussions about gender and how to define it—or undefine it—taking place in the shower, in the bedroom, and on the radio. We see Linn da Quebrada sharing tender moments with her family, during playful exchanges with friends and bursting with self-confidence onstage.

My experience

I am happy to have watched this. Quite a few people walked out, though. Were they offended by the many genitals shown? Were they bored by the huge amount of text spoken, sung or shouted? It shows that no matter what you think of this documentary, you will have an opinion. And is that not precisely the reason why art exists? To challenge you and the world around you?

For me, I have seen enough penises for a while but I enjoyed the moments when they sat down for the radio shows. There, they stripped away most of the show and came back to their message. That is when I really listened.

Queer Day 2018

Queer Day 2018 was the second time I visited IDFA’s Queer Day. Last year, I watched Chavela, Queerama, This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, and Mr. Gay Syria. I have to say that Queer Day had a bigger impact on me last year. I feel the 2017 program was more diverse in terms of stories from the entire LGBTQIA community. And if I have to compare Chavela and Mr. Gay Syria, which I have seen winning quite a few awards over the year and shown at many different film festivals, with Cassandro, the Exotico! and Bixa Travesty, then I think the first two movies have a longer-lasting effect on its audiences. Bixa Travesty does have the potential to win some awards because it is so very outspoken. However, that may also be what works against it. Time will tell!

Showing my Pride at The Hague Rainbow Festival 2018

Showing my Pride at The Hague Rainbow Festival 2018

Last weekend, the third edition of The Hague Rainbow Festival covered The Hague with rainbow flags. I joined the Pride Walk and other festivities, which I will describe in this blog. This fairly new Pride celebration in The Hague was a great combination of advocacy, sunshine, beautiful people, and fun entertainment.

‘Showing my Pride at The Hague Rainbow Festival 2018’ Last weekend, the third edition of The Hague Rainbow Festival covered The Hague with rainbow flags. I joined the Pride Walk and other festivities, which I will describe in this blog. This fairly new Pride celebration in The Hague was a great combination of advocacy, sunshine, beautiful people, and fun entertainment. Read about it here: bit.ly/THRF2018

The third edition of The Hague Rainbow Festival

In the Netherlands, more and more cities are deciding to throw their own Pride parties in addition to the big one we have in Amsterdam every year. As a result, we now also have Utrecht Pride and The Hague Rainbow Festival. This year, it was time for the third edition of The Hague Rainbow Festival, which was held at de Grote Markt. I absolutely adore the fact that my own city now has a pride, so I just had to be there.

Increasing LGBTQ visibility in our city

De Grote Markt, as the name says, is a big location but it is still only a single spot where the pride festivities take place. I hope this pride festival will grow over the next few years, so that the festivities take place across the city, increasing LGBTQ visibility in the city.

That is why I am happy COC Haaglanden, the regional branch of our country’s biggest gay rights organization, hosted the second annual Pride Walk. With a Pride Walk, you effectively go from a static festival to a dynamic festival, raising awareness on the go. There was even talk about a canal parade like the one in Amsterdam but unfortunately, we have to wait a year (if all goes well – fingers crossed!).

Pride Walk

Look, I have been to the Dyke March in San Francisco. I know how cool and big you are. Still, walking the Pride Walk made me feel just as proud! Passing The Hague’s highlights, like the Peace Palace, with a big group of LGBTQ community members (of all ages!), a brass band, a DJ, a gigantic rainbow flag, and more rainbow flags, and seeing people cheering us on along the way was a wonderful experience. Thank you, organization and volunteers, for making Pride Walk happen!

The only thing that could have made this Pride Walk even more awesome was if my son had not decided it was time for an extended nap. Consequently, my wife and son had to miss out on Pride Walk. They joined me afterward at the Grote Markt.

The Hague Rainbow Festival

At around 4 pm, the Pride Walk arrived at the Grote Markt. The official opening of The Hague Rainbow Festival was at 5 pm. We had a few drinks and saw Sandra Khouw, our new Miss Gay Holland, being honored. After that, our son was getting hungry so we needed to head home for dinner.

After our babysitter arrived, we were able to head back and join the festival again. You know what I love about these outdoor festivals? The fact that you can just stand somewhere with a beer in your hands, listening to live music, and friends and acquaintances can just join you and your group. Those friends and acquaintances, in turn, bring their own friends and acquaintances and so on and so on. Those are the best nights, right?

Miss Gay Holland

I have asked Sandra Khouw, our new Miss Gay Holland as well as organizer of the Pride Walk, how she looks back on the THRF weekend. “Last Saturday went by so quickly. People told me things like ‘I dream that it is normal to be different’ or ‘This is my family; I feel at home here.’ A big smile from ear to ear appeared on my face when I saw how proud everyone was during the walk. I got goosebumps all over my body when I heard the whole parade scream and saw how happy everybody was. This was a great day and I enjoy all the videos, photos, thank-you’s, and congratulations.”

She continues: “I was also very happy when I saw that people traveled to The Hague to support me when I was being honored as Miss Gay Holland 2018. It is truly fantastic to see how they appreciate it and are so happy that there is attention to them. That makes it worthwhile for me to dedicate my time and effort to our LGBTQ community. I love people the way they are.” Thanks, Sandra!

Happy

I really hope The Hague Rainbow Festival continues to grow and that more people will join next year. I am happy that our country is seeing more and more pride festivals. How wonderful would it be if every region in The Netherlands had at least one? Think of the sense of community that could bring!

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