LGBT World Beside and RusLGBTIQ arranged a Kerstborrel on December 17 2022. About 40 asylum seekers and refugees from various post-Soviet countries gathered in the Goethe-Institut in Amsterdam to spend time together and play board games (Bingo, Mafia or Weerwolven, Uno, etc.). We are very thankful to Goethe-Institut for providing us with their amazing space. Without it, this event would not be possible.
The event started at 14:00 and lasted until about 18:00, after which we had a walking tour of some historical locations of Amsterdam and saw some artworks from the Amsterdam light festival. Thanks to the small donations of our individual donors, we were able to provide lunch and about 20 tickets for the participants arriving from the various AZC locations.
A journalist from NPO Radio 2 visited us and interviewed several participants of the event. We believe it is essential to increase the visibility of Russian LGBT people in the Netherlands, especially after the Kremlin-sanctioned homophobic policies, the last of which prohibits the public expression of any neutral or positive stance concerning the LGBT community.
Besides similar homophobic experiences, LGBT asylum seekers and refugees from post-Soviet countries share a common cultural identity. Notably, almost all LGBT people from these countries know well Russian language. The common identity and knowledge of the Russian language make the interaction of LGBT people from post-Soviet countries easy and friendly. Such interaction, especially for those who arrived in the Netherlands recently, provides Russian-speaking LGBT refugees and asylum seekers support and comfort during one of the most challenging periods of their lives. Therefore, we are intended to arrange such events regularly.
We specifically thank Wolfgang Schreiber, who helped us to connect with the Goethe-Institut and accompanied us during the whole event. Special thanks also to Neil van der Linden, who guided our tour, despite the cold weather.
Since the start of the epidemic in the Netherlands, the affected communities have played a major role in tackling HIV and AIDS. In ways to live with HIV, or how to prevent it. And how we can take care of each other and fight for the right cause. Unlike many other countries, in The Netherlands the various communities were involved – some more than others – in the planning, organization and implementation of various projects and activities. This has resulted in an impressive number of community initiatives that have been substantial, innovative and crucial (and in part still are!) Initiatives that have remained largely invisible to the general public.
The history of how the Dutch HIV community took matters into its own hands is on many fronts a success story of solidarity, resilience and activism, of which we as communities can be immensely proud. But in showing this legacy, the more difficult and painful parts of the past are certainly not shunned. Not everyone was involved, not everyone was reached.
As of 2020, we have been busy doing research and conducting interviews about this history. The challenge is to create an inclusive exhibition. To make the invisible visible. We are not complete and there are blind spots, but we want to give as many stories as possible a place in the House of HIV.
With this exhibition, we pull the curtain away from this rich history of four decades of surviving and living in an epidemic and we also look ahead to the end of AIDS.
House of HIV is a house under construction. If it is up to us, this will be a long-term project, in which we will continue to work on archiving, documenting and exhibiting the history of the Dutch HIV community.
Many Russian-speaking people from different Post-Soviet countries participated in the annual Pride walk that took place in Amsterdam on July 30, 2022. Traditionally, Pride walk is the first event with which Pride week starts in Amsterdam. Although Pride walk is more of a celebration of the achieved rights of LGBT+ people in Dutch society, it is also a demonstration and a march that aims to draw attention to the problematic situation of LGBT+ people in other countries.
Unfortunately, current Russian authorities are becoming more and more hostile toward LGBT+ people. They have adopted and implemented various homophobic policies domestically and they aim to force such policies on other Post-Soviet countries. Joined participation of Russian-speaking people in the 2022 Amsterdam pride walk aimed to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people from Russia and other Post-Soviet countries. Such joined participation of Russian-speaking people in Pride walk happened also last year.
After the walk, which started at Dam square and finished in Vondelpark, Russian-speaking participants stayed in Vondelpark and socialised. There were some free drinks provided by those who organized the Russian-speaking participants of Pride walk (LGBT World Beside, RusLGBTIQ and International LGBT in the Netherlands). Besides that, two tickets for the Tropikali festival 2022 – ‘Sunset’ were raffled.
We are grateful to all the participants, organizers and partners of this event.
On July 2, 2022, LGBT World Beside organized a picnic for Russian-speaking LGBT+ people residing in the Netherlands. We are happy that this event attracts many people and is becoming a tradition. Thanks to the friendly atmosphere, people with similar cultural backgrounds can relax, socialize and make new friends. The event seems especially valuable for those who have lived in the Netherlands for less than five years.
Thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers, this year we provided homemade lunch together with drinks, snacks and games. We are also grateful to Amnesty International Nederland and our (anonymous) donors for their financial support.
The picnic started after 14:00 and lasted until about 21:00, with almost a third of the participants being present all this time. Participants were from different Post-Soviet countries (Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, etc.). There were also a few Dutch people. People mostly socialized and danced. Some were playing badminton, volleyball and other ball games. The weather was mostly sunny and without rain. After the picnic, some participants went clubbing at the Amsterdam center.
LGBT World Besides aims to continue organizing picnics for Russian-speaking LGBT people at least once a year.
The Hiv Vereniging organizes its first Meet&Eat for people with HIV from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In recent years, we have seen an increasing group of people with HIV from this region in the Netherlands and would like to offer them the right information and ensure mutual contact and support. A group of volunteers has joined forces and is organizing this meeting.
What and when? On Saturday 9 October from 13.00 to 16.00, the Hiv Vereniging will organize its first Meet&Eat for people with HIV from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EE&CA region). During the Meet&Eat lunch is offered and people get the chance to meet each other in a safe environment. Information is provided in Polish, Russian and Romanian. The activity is free.
For and by people with HIV from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Meet&Eat is organized by volunteers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia and is only open to people from that region. We do this because we want to offer a safe place with targeted information in their own language.
Sign In! What: Meet&Eat When: Saturday 9 October from 13.00 to 16.00 Where: Hiv Vereniging, Eerste Helmerstraat 17A-3 1054 CX, Amsterdam For whom: people from Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Are you interested? Then register via het Servicepunt (the Service Point). Can be reached by telephone on Mon, Tues and Thurs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 020 – 689 25 77. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your name, dietary requirements, country of origin and the activity you wish to register for (note: In the months of July and August, het Servicepunt is closed on Tuesdays for holidays).