by Rex Wockner
For the first time, around 80 defense personnel – military and civilian – took part in Amsterdam’s gay pride canal parade with their own boat Aug. 6.
Joining them was U.S. gays-in-the-military activist Dan Choi.
Defense personnel participated in the previous two years’ parades, in uniform, but onboard other groups’ boats.
This year’s contingent was organized by the Dutch Foundation for Homosexuality and the Armed Forces. It also included a British Royal Navy lieutenant commander and Dutch generals.
“After years of trying to realize our aim of participating, we are extremely pleased, because visibility, particularly in the case of LGBT defense personnel, is so important,” said Peter Kees Hamstra, chairman of the foundation that organized the contingent.
“By increasing this visibility, we aim to be an example to other defense organizations,” he said. “Although social acceptance has improved in the Netherlands too, there is still a great deal of work that must be done to strengthen the position of LGBT defense personnel.”