Amsterdam: Proud History

Photo: Amsterdam Pride © ARNOLD PLOTNICK

By - December 1, 2018

IF YOU WANT TO GET A HANDLE ON Amsterdam’s LGBTQ+ scene, just ask Arnold Plotnick, a retired veterinarian from the United States who loved the Dutch capital so much when he first visited in 1998, he moved there. “Amsterdam is a longrunning favorite destination for gays because of the liberal, live-and-let-live attitude in the city and country in general,” he said. “The Netherlands was the first country to [fully legalize] gay marriage, and gay life and culture is so ingrained in their society that people really don’t think twice about it.”

Plotnick recommends a number of activities for first-time visitors. “The city is so welcoming to gays that there’s no need to seek out gay-related things in order to feel comfortable,” he noted. “Just visit the attractions that the city is known for — the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, a boat tour of the canals and certainly a stroll through the red light district. An inspiring site to visit, right near the Anne Frank House, is the Homomonument, a monument to anyone who has ever been oppressed or persecuted because of their sexual orientation. The fact that the city put up this monument tells you something about how they regard gays.”

As for nightlife, Plotnick notes a variety of venues, including bars like Taboo and dance clubs like Soho and NYX, all on one of the main “gay streets,” Reguliersdwarsstraat. “On Spuistraat is the bar Prik,” he added, “which is a very popular lounge, especially in the summer, when the crowd spills out onto the street.”

Holland’s tourism website provides lots of details about gay-friendly travel to Amsterdam. LGBTQ+-friendly hotels can also be a great source of information. Isabelle Post, manager, the Conservatorium Hotel, an upscale boutique property in the city’s Museum District, is among the hoteliers knowledgeable about things to do. “Pride Amsterdam is always a tremendous success,” she said of the annual LGBTQ+ pride celebration. “A highlight during this event is the extended Pride Walk, with 10,000 to 12,000 people marching for those who couldn’t join us. Next year, Pride will be dedicated to the Stonewall 50-year [anniversary]. Mark your calendars: Pride Amsterdam 2019 will be held from July 27 through Aug. 4, 2019.”