Science - October 11, 2007

Pale pink party

‘Where are all those tall handsome blonde men?’ asks a Mexican guy of his Colombian friend. In Rotterdam, answers his friend knowingly. And there it’s not just blondes; they come from all over the world.

Dance party in De Wilde Wereld
It’s Saturday evening and the two are sitting at a table with a beer in de Wilde Wereld during the international dance party Colourful, organised by the Wageningen Gay Group. With a look of amusement on their faces, they are watching the half empty dance floor where a few people are going crazy to the music.

According to the gay group’s website, the aim of the evening is to celebrate the large number of nationalities living in Wageningen. But what is the homo scene like in Wageningen? Are many nationalities active, or is it mainly Dutch gays that give Wageningen a pink tinge? According to Edwin Luijks, chair of the Gay Group, there are many more Dutch than international members of his organisation. He says that this is partly because international students often don’t stay for so long in the Netherlands, and are therefore not so interested in joining a club. But he thinks it's also because being gay is not accepted in many countries. It is therefore difficult for some people to openly declare themselves homosexual. Some international homosexual students have to deal with the fact that their parents have made considerable sacrifices for them to be able to study in Holland, and they do not want to disappoint their parents. ‘But there are often a few international guys at our parties,’ Luijks adds.

The Colombian guy confirms what the chairman has said. ‘It’s not easy being gay in Colombia,’ he continues. ‘The culture there is far more macho and more conservative than here in Holland. You hear regularly of gays being beaten up on the street there. The homo scene is far more ‘in the closet’ than in Holland, where men can openly walk hand in hand down the street.’ Not that he’s seen that in Wageningen in the eight months that he’s been here. He puts it down to things in the east of the Netherlands being more conservative than the west. Must be time to visit Rotterdam, he and his Mexican friend decide, where the parties are livelier than in Wageningen too.

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