Pink Saturday

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Three in Utrecht


Pink Saturday is an national annual pride event that travels around the country. The festival was held in Utrecht three times. The first in 1986 attracted 9,000 participants. The last one in 2013 with 55,000 participants was the largest in the country.



Pink Saturday is held every year, usually on the last Saturday of June. On June 28, 1969, riots occurred in front of the Stonewall Inn bar in New York. Unlike previous police raids, transgender, lesbian, drag queen and gay men rioted against oppression and discrimination that night. ‘Stonewall’ has since been regarded internationally as the beginning of the modern gay movement (although there are some things to be said about it). A year later, on June 28, 1970, the first major Pride parades took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. That marked the beginning of Pride Parades in the world.


The Netherlands

Emancipation in the Netherlands was ahead of that in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. For example, the famous writer Gerard Reve was already open about his homosexuality on national TV in 1963, followed a year later by well-known designer and COC chairman Benno Premsela in a current affairs program about homosexuality. In 1965, writer Andreas Burnier won a literary prize with her novel in which the main character was a matter of course lesbian. On January 12, 1969, six months before the riots in New York, there was a protest against the discriminatory art. 248bis at the Binnenhof in The Hague, the heart of the Dutch democracy.

But unlike in the US, there were no major parades in the Netherlands until 1977, also because COC, the largest national LHBTI+-organization, did not want them. The first major demonstration took place in 1977. On June 25, Lesbian Nation organized a protest in Amsterdam against the hate campaigns of American singer Anita Bryant. About 2,000 people participated.


Pink Saturday in the Netherlands

Two years later, on June 27, 1979, there was a second large demonstration in the city of Roermond against the homophobic views of Bishop Gijsen. Four members of COC from the province of Limburg and a youth worker from Roermond, together forming the action group ROZA, organized the demonstration. They were pleasantly surprised by the large turnout of 4,000 to 6,000 participants from all over the country. A petition signed by 8,614 people was presented at the bishop’s palace.

This action group ROZA came up with the idea for the name ‘Pink Saturday’. She organized a smaller demonstration in Roermond on April 14. This action fell during Holy Week, the time when Catholics celebrate Holy Saturday. To which ROZA called this not-so-quiet day of action ‘Pink Saturday’. Pink referred to the pink triangle that homosexuals had to wear as a mark in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

In 1980 there was a Pink Saturday in Amsterdam and since then Pink Saturday has been traveling through the country. In 1982 the manifestation in Amersfoort led to serious riots. These were the reason for the start of the national LGBTI+ emancipation policy.



Utrecht organized Pink Saturday three times: in 1986, 1998 and 2013



In 1984, the Utrecht city council asked the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to start a gay emancipation policy and that actually started the following year. In this context, Utrecht wanted to bring Pink Saturday to Utrecht and they succeeded a year later. Utrecht had its first Pink Saturday on June 28, 1986. A colourful procession went through the city centre to Wilhelmina Park, where the closing event took place. No disturbances, no aggression, as in Amersfoort in 1982, but celebration and joy. The theme was ‘For more colour’ referring to diversity in a broad sense. The event attracted around 9,000 participants.



A second Pink Saturday took place in 1998 with the theme ‘Mirrors & Tension’. The year before, the municipality organized De Roze Lente. This in turn led to the first Midzomergracht Spectacle on the canal between the three most important gay bars (see window 1997 Pink Spring and Midzomergracht). That tasted like more and in the following year there were five Pink Spring days, culminating in Pink Saturday and the second Midzomergracht Spectacle.



The third was in 2013 and attracted 55,000 participants. This made it the largest Pink Saturday ever. The municipal policy officer for LGBTI+-matters, Kees van den Berg, had registered Utrecht as a candidate with the Pink Saturdays Netherlands Foundation, which annually designates the city where this event takes place. He then looked for an organization that wanted to organize the event. That became the PANN foundation, the city’s successful LGBTI+ youth organization (see window 1969 PANN).

PANN made a bid book in six weeks. Utrecht was chosen on Pink Saturday in 2011 in Groningen over the other candidates Arnhem and Eindhoven. The proposal was innovative. No longer a parade, but a festival throughout the entire Utrecht city centre attractive for young people. A foundation was set up, RZ2013, which helped shape the event with many PANN volunteers and organizations from the city. Funds came from the province and municipality, but also from many national and local commercial and non-profit organizations.

The theme was “Just Come”. There were events on seven squares: Cathedral Square (main stage), City Hall Square (Stadhuisplein), Neude, Jacobskerkhof, Janskerkhof, Lepelenburg (with kids area) and Lucasbolwerk (information market). Minister Edith Schippers was at sports campus Olympos in the morning to launch the national rainbow sports campaign. Mayor Aleid Wolfsen and organizer Petra Luiken gave the starting shot together on Cathedral Square (Domplein). In the evening there were parties. The traditional ecumenical church celebration was in the Cathedral (Domkerk).



Evert van der Veen and Kees van den Berg



Interviews met organisatoren van Roze Zaterdag 2013, Petra Luiken en Simon Timmerman, 15 juni 2023.

Andere tijden Homo-emancipatie op radio en tv


Zij aan Zij: Andreas Burnier


ILHIA: Gijsen en de eerste Roze Zaterdag


Video reports


OUTTV:  Events Roze Zaterdag 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpxqyEmv2Ew

DUIC: Interview met wethouder Gilbert Isabella en voorzitter Petra Luiken https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceXZwHBqQeA

Kamkrant.nl: Impressies Roze Zaterdag Utrecht 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjOTQFy6GXc&t=3s