Category: LGBTQ events

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. Below this image is also a vlog about our podcast episode together.

‘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

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?!

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.

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

Abonneer je je ook op mijn YouTubekanaal?

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!

Amsterdam Pride 2018: Canal Parade and Melanie C

Amsterdam Pride 2018: Canal Parade and Melanie C

Last Saturday, my wife and I visited the Canal Parade, which was the main event of Amsterdam Pride 2018. Sunday evening, I went back to Amsterdam for the closing party, because Melanie C. was performing. All in all, it was a very sunny and happy pride! Below, you will find a description of the festivities as well as two vlogs.

‘Amsterdam Pride 2018: Canal Parade and Melanie C’ Last Saturday, my wife and I visited the Canal Parade, which was the main event of Amsterdam Pride 2018. Sunday evening, I went back to Amsterdam for the closing party, because Melanie C. was performing. All in all, it was a very sunny and happy pride! Read about it here: http://bit.ly/AmsterdamPride18

Amsterdam Pride 2018: HEROES

Last year, about 100.000 visitors saw the eighty boats of the canal parade. That is exactly what made Amsterdam Pride 2018 so unique. I have visited San Francisco Pride and I have seen many videos of pride celebrations all over the world but I have never seen a pride like the one in Amsterdam. Having so many canals, it only makes sense to have the parade take place on Amsterdam’s water.

Each year, a lottery decides which boats are allowed to join. Many, many organizations apply and only eighty are allowed to join the parade. These eighty boats start their tour, which is a couple of kilometers long, at 12:30 pm and the final boats come in at around 5 pm. You can conclude that eighty is more than enough and if I am honest, I have never seen all eighty of them. Each year, pride has a main theme and every boat comes up with a theme to support the main theme. This year, the theme was HEROES.

Perfect

My wife and I went with a friend and we arrived in Amsterdam a bit late, around 3 pm. It was all good, though, because some people we know gave us their spot, which was right at one of the canals. It was the perfect spot and we had a perfect view of the canal parade.

Special boats

Every year, there are some very special boats. This year, for instance, there was a heroic boat with LGBTQIA people from Iran. Unfortunately, because we were there a little later, we missed most of those. Still, we saw some pretty good ones.

I always love the boats that have all its people dancing the exact same dance. ING was pretty good at the synchronized dancing this year. Other boats that I like are the ones with loud music because there are usually big gaps between the boats and you want the party to continue. Also, the boats with quirky things like a trampoline or towers that go up (and down every.single.bridge) are great.

The canal parade is just one big splash of colors and glitter (and activism) on the water. Love it! The best way I can show you, though, is by adding the video that I made. Enjoy and do not forget to subscribe so you can see more queer content!

 

Melanie C. at Amsterdam Pride 2018

One of my HEROES was performing at the closing party of Amsterdam Pride 2018 on Sunday: Melanie C. So, I went back to Amsterdam for her performance the next day. I have been a Spice Girls fan ever since Wannabe came out and it was the only concert in The Netherlands that my parents did not allow me to go to (too young) and that I did not go to when I was finally old enough to go (because yeah, that is kind of hard when the group has split up).

When she released her first solo album, which I thought was brilliant, I remember being intrigued by the whole debate about her sexuality. I was only 14 or 15 years old and I remember being curious about lesbians. If a lesbian can be as cool as Melanie C., then it cannot be that bad, right? Oh, the things you hold on to when there is little queer representation…

She performed only four songs but it was enough to make my heart happy. I also had a pretty good spot, which made the experience even better. Here is the vlog that I made for you:

So, hopefully, I will be able to go to Pride Amsterdam again next year. Tell me: were you at Amsterdam Pride 2018? If not, how are your pride festivities and where?

PS The Hague Rainbow Festival was really cool as well!

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. You can also find my vlog right below this image!

‘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?

The Hague Rainbow Festival last year

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!

Find The Hague Rainbow Festival on Facebook (and like Meemoeder.com’s page on Facebook as well!)

PS I’m leaving for LOVE Fan Fest in Barcelona really soon. Subscribe to my newsletter (English or Dutch) or YouTube channel to stay updated!

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