Boardmembers, volunteers and members of COC Amsterdam and environs have taken important steps in the way we understand and fulfil our emancipation goals, taking on board the societal developments that have influenced our work since over the last years.
Both in politics and in society people have increasingly started to point fingers at each other, put blame on others and put each other into single aspect descriptive boxes. This without listening to each other or starting a common conversation. We think this reinforces the need to keep looking for collaboration and connection between people. This applies not only to those who consider themselves part of the LHBTI+ community, but especially also with everyone outside of it who try to combat different forms of exclusion.
Volunteers of COC Amsterdam have walked out of solidarity with the protest of Ieder1 (Every1) and the Women’s March in Amsterdam. With Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faith based communities we protested against an ‘anti-gay’ flyer that was distributed in Amsterdam (Nieuw-)West, we guarded symbolically in a human chain over the evening prayers at the Blue Mosque in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, and we participated in a sponsor run during the Night of the Refugee.
Setting people against each other and abusing all kinds of groups of people and their identities for political gain or for proving your own point is damaging to the cohesion of society. We strongly disagree with that approach.
Identifying yourself as a lesbian, homosexual, bisexual or transgender means something different for everyone. Just like identifying as a woman, man, Muslim, Christian, agnostic, bi-cultural, Amsterdammer or any other identity always has a personal meaning for everyone who does so.
COC Amsterdam is and will continue to be the standard bearer for everyone who identifies as LHBT+. There is, however, an increasing awareness that all kinds of identities are more complex, and co-exist. This applies also to the board, volunteers and members of COC Amsterdam. Building mutual understanding and connecting such identities, between people, is necessary to prevent inequality and exclusion for everyone.
This awareness also expressly pays tribute to people of for instance a bicultural background and to heterosexuals who work with passion as a volunteer or ally of COC Amsterdam towards our societal goals.
Running up to the municipal elections of 2018, COC Amsterdam is setting up an agenda aimed at broader collaboration on cohesion. In addition, the members of COC Amsterdam have approved a change in the statutes at the general meeting of 22 June, that no longer formulates our emancipation targets in terms of narrowly defined identities (LHBT), but in open terms of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity and expression as well as sex characteristics’. Within this context COC Amsterdam works on ensuring that it is you who can determine who you are, and who you love, and that you cannot be excluded for that reason. Münire Manisa joining us in the long vacant boardmember portfolio of Safety and Advocacy, along with all ideas, opinions and identities of our other volunteers and members, enriches COC Amsterdam.
We look forward to creating a more social, inclusive and safer environment for everyone in Amsterdam and environs together with you in the future, amongst others in the week of Amsterdam Pride during the Shakespeare Club 2017.
The board of COC Amsterdam
Peter de Ruijter, Chair
Dymfke van Lanen, Treasurer
Bouko Bakker, Boardmember
Münire Manisa, Boardmember
Willeke Morren, Boardmember
Roel Theissen, Boardmember
(editors note: COC Amsterdam and environs was started over seventy years ago as a gay & lesbian rights association under the name of Shakespeare Club. Our work as a civil liberties association has ever changed and expanded. COC Amsterdam is a volunteer organisation working on for instance education, empowerment, and providing safe meeting environments in Amsterdam and neighbouring municipalities, currently working within a federation with similar local organisations throughout the Netherlands as well as with COC Nederland, which focuses on national and international issues.)
Board of COC Amsterdam, back row: Willeke Morren, Dymfke van Lanen, Münire Manisa, front row, Bouko Bakker, Peter de Ruijter and Roel Theissen