The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress in San Francisco City Hall.

By Kimberly Beijersbergen 
Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York
Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco


At midnight on April 1, 2001, Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus were married by the Mayor of Amsterdam, making the two mothers of a son the first same-sex couple to legally wed and the Netherlands the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Netherlands is one of the most tolerant societies worldwide, and Amsterdam is still an international LGBTQIA+ capital, just like New York and San Francisco.

After the Stonewall riots in New York, groups in New York and San Francisco became active and promoted the gay rights in 1970. Fifty years after the riots, parades are organized annually in major cities to commemorate the anniversary of the riots. The Netherlands Consulates in New York and San Francisco are participating in Pride 2019, connecting Dutch and American civil rights activists, artists, organizations, and other supporters of LGBTQIA+ rights.

Internationally, the Rainbow Dress is an icon for LGBTQIA+ rights. It was designed in San Francisco and was the inspiration for the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress. This massive work of art is made up of 70 flags from nations that have anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. Every time a country abolishes the anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, their flag is replaced with the Amsterdam flag, symbolizing the city’s role in legalizing same-sex marriage.

The Rainbow Dress returns to New York this June for the commemoration of the Stonewall riots. The story behind the Rainbow Dress and what it stands for fits this year’s world pride theme in New York. The dress was displayed at BNY Mellon for their event “WorldPride 2019: Leading the Way for Equality,” where the director of the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress, Arnout van Krimpen, was welcomed as guest speaker. During this event, panel discussions were held about what role the financial services industry plays in furthering diversity and inclusion.

For Pride 2018, the San Francisco City Hall was filled with the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress. That same year, the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress joined an arts and culture mission to New York City led by former Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Kajsa Ollongren.

Breaking barriers, building bridges

The United States and the Netherlands work together by being actively and culturally involved on topics of LGBTQIA+, one of which bringing awareness to the inclusion of the LBGTQIA+-community. Seminars, events, and conferences have been held to discuss topics such as the inclusion of LBGTQIA+ individuals within organizations, countries where the LGBTQIA+-community is not widely accepted, and hosting the largest AIDS conference.

During Pride Week in New York, the Consulate General in New York together with the UK’s Department of International Trade, NGLCC Global, NGLCC New York, BelCham and INGBank will host the 2019 UK LGBT Founders Mission. This event takes a closer look at the public and private perspective on the LGBTQIA+ economic empowerment.

The City University of New York will display photographs made by Kings and Queens Photography. Léon Hendrickx photographs drag queens posing in full drag and started making these compositions to explore gender and identity. Kings and Queens is also exhibited at Brooklyn Academy of Music for the month.

“I’m looking forward to San Francisco’s 49th Pride as the Netherlands has a long history of promoting equal rights for LGBTQIA+ persons. We do this back home. We were the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, but also globally it’s important to include the LGBTQIA+ community in all parts of society,” said Deputy Consul General Vincent Storimans. “Here in San Francisco, the Netherlands works together with individuals and organizations to promote these equal rights, for example through bringing the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress to SF Pride last year. And next year we’ll work with San Francisco for the AIDS2020 conference, that was previously hosted by Amsterdam. I’m proud that the Netherlands can make a difference here in San Francisco.”

Pink Revolution

In light of the San Francisco Pride theme “Generations of Resistance,” the Netherland-America Foundation and the Consulate General will present  a screening of “A Monument of Pride,” directed by Dutch filmmaker Sebastiaan Kes, who traveled the world with his film to share knowledge on the history of the “Pink Revolution” in the Netherlands.

“When I looked into the history of LGBTI in the Netherlands, I noticed there was a lot written in the ’80s, but if you wanted to know more you had to really dig deep. I wanted to change this, and that’s how I got the idea of making a documentary about LGBTI emancipation in the Netherlands,” Kes said. “I find it important to show my viewer’s that emancipation isn’t a given. Every generation has to maintain what has been achieved and take the next steps. The documentary was previously in New York and Philadelphia and now it’s in San Francisco where I am honoured it will be screened during Pride week in San Francisco.”

“A Monument of Pride” includes images of past and current events held on the Amsterdam homo-monument with portraits of today’s activists and the social challenges faced.

Bridging over to the other side of the country, the East Coast celebrates the Stonewall50 anniversary, commemorating the riots that began after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn bar in New York in 1969. The first march in New York city was in 1970 and has since been bringing awareness to the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. The Consulate General in New York is participating in the parade this year and walks with Pride Amsterdam.

“I am so happy to be able to join the international leading group of the World Pride Parade, representing Pride Amsterdam together with 15 colleagues in solidarity of the international LGBTQIA+ community and to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,” said Consul General Dolph Hogewoning. “This uprising catalyzed a shift in terms of advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights on an international scale. Equality and human rights are important pillars in Dutch policy. Love is love.”

In San Francisco, the Consulate General participates in the Pride Parade together with other European countries. With the motto “All Different, All Equal,” the Dutch and other European communities march to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.