This year, Rotterdam Pride held its annual Pride Week not as usual in September, but in the sunny summer month of June. For almost two weeks, our port city became the home base for a host of fabulous festivities. Good news: next year there will be even more reason to celebrate as the organization marks its tenth anniversary.

“This Pride was, in a word, amazing”, enthuses the organization’s chair, Bey Cil. This year, Rotterdam hosted Pink Saturday – the country’s first and oldest annual Pride event held in a different city each year – resulting in a programme that was bigger and better than ever. “It was fantastic and a great learning experience to have this opportunity to organize it”, Bey says. “But, if anything, it only whetted our appetite for next year.”

There is certainly no shortage of ideas for the next edition. “At the moment we’re looking at possibly sticking with June.” Not only because the weather tends to be more cooperative, the chair says, but June is also Global Pride Month. “So the topic will already be more of a priority for lots of organizations, sponsors and interest groups, making it easier to connect with people and get initiatives up and running to maximize the impact and reach of Pride Month.” SAFE CITY FOR ALL Bey stresses how important this is for spreading their mes – sage. “Our main message is that no matter who you are, where you’re from or what your orientation is, you have a right to be. We want to make Rotterdam a welcoming and safe haven for all.” Sadly, he knows the harsh reality is that there is still a long way to go. “What sucks, especially from a personal point of view, is that it sometimes feels like we’re actually going backwards. Take things like the defacing of the COC office, people being harassed on the street and public facilities that aren’t inclusive and diverse. We need to keep pushing every day to make Rotterdam safer and more welcoming.”

The organization is actively working to be available to all who need them, facilitating that positive space created during Pride Week year-round, and to galvanize the community to get involved in city decision-making. “We want to help think about how buildings and public spaces can be created inclusively. We’ve grown up in a heteronormative world so, sure, it’s understandable that many people aren’t aware of these sorts of things. But now it’s time to flip the switch.”