Drag queens to lead Utrecht Pride boat parade in protest against anti-LBTQIA+ violence

A boat with drag queens will lead the boat parade of Utrecht Pride on Saturday as a statement against several violent incidents targeting the LGBTQIA+ community in recent months. “We believe that more visibility promotes acceptance,” Robbert Kalff, founder and chairman of Utrecht Pride, told RTL Nieuws.

The interest group for drag queens, Pink Promiss, will be the first boat in the parade. According to Kalff, the organization dithered about participating at all. “They do not feel completely safe at the moment, so there was initial doubt whether they wanted to sail at all. But we said: do it. In fact, go first.”

It is a statement against several violent incidents targeting the community in April, Kalff said. He referred to an assault on the staff of a drag bar in Groningen, an attack on COC Eindhoven volunteers, and demonstrators disrupting an event where drag queens read to children in Rotterdam.

“Drag queens are an essential part of the queer scene. They are becoming more visible, so we also see more resistance. By letting them be the first boat, we want to say: you can wear whatever you want,” Kalff told RTL.

He stressed that the organization has no concrete indications that anything will happen at Utrecht Pride. “But you have to be alert to it. We have gone through the scenarios with all authorities, including the police and the municipality.” The recent incidents have made clear “that anything but cis-hetero is still arousing resistance from too many people,” Kalff said.

This weekend is the fifth edition of Utrecht Pride. Over 50 organizations will participate in the boat parade, including Utrecht University and the HU University of Applied Sciences, trade union FNV, and NS Trainbow. “All types sail along,” said Kalff. “Our criterion is: as long as you are LGBTQI-oriented.”

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