27 May How to spread your rainbow wings in Amsterdam – Part I: A.S.V.Gay
Hey you! Are you an LGBTQ student (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer) who wants to spread those wings to explore this vast rainbow-coloured universe called Amsterdam? Let me be your guide! In a series of blogposts, I’ll show you the best bars, clubs, parties, events and other places that are full of LGBTQ people. First up is the Amsterdamse Studentenverening Gay (“Amsterdam Student Association Gay”), or A.S.V.Gay, the best place to meet like-minded students in a safe, open and fun setting. Of course, you should discover this yourself by going there, but let me give you a head start!
A.S.V.Gay was founded in 2010 for connection, emancipation and integration of LGBTQ students in Amsterdam. The association has over 300 members and welcomes everyone: lesbian, queer, trans, bi, gay, straight and any other sexuality or gender identity – no need to label yourself. Whether you’re in the closet or hard core into the gay scene, or anything in between, A.S.V.Gay is there for you! There are about as many male as female members, including people who do not identify with binary gender labels.
So what do they do? An important part of the sociability side of A.S.V.Gay is the weekly drinks session on Wednesday evening, or what the Dutch call a borrel. This borrel is open for non-members as well and is therefore a good way to get to know the association. Apart from this, A.S.V.Gay hosts a lot of other fun stuff. There are parties, one-off or annual activities like surfing, an open stage and a fancy Christmas dinner, themed drinks, sport teams and short trips abroad!
There are many serious activities as well. Among other things, there’s a scientific congress on gender-nonconformity, a charity walk for LGBTQ charity organisations, and excursions to expositions or important happenings like Coming Out Day or Transgender Day of Remembrance. Furthermore, we have confidants (Dutch: vertrouwenspersonen) to whom you can talk if something’s bothering you.
Once you’re a member, you have access to all activities and you can chose to become active yourself by joining a committee or becoming a candidate for the board! Not convinced yet? Does it help that the number of international students is greatly increasing, that the association is becoming more and more accessible to non-Dutch speakers, and that you might even get to party on your own boat at the Canal Parade of the Amsterdam Gay Pride?
Maybe the word “student association” rings some unpleasant bells for you. Let me take that away. At A.S.V.Gay, one of the most important values is freedom. Not only to be who you want to be and love who you want to you love, but also to only do what you want to do. There’s no hazing and no obligations whatsoever. Of course, there are introductory activities to get to know each other, but none of them are compulsory!
Why would you need such a place? Aren’t LGBTQ people supposed to fight for emancipation and integration, instead of locking themselves up in an association? That’s a question often faced by A.S.V.Gay. Although the association finds emancipation and integration very important, they also fight for self-acceptance, which in their opinion is at least as important. A.S.V.Gay wants to provide a place that is safe, where you can be who you are and where diversity is celebrated.
Still, A.S.V.Gay is also highly connected to the rest of the world. The association not only connects to other LGBTQ organisations in Amsterdam and The Netherlands, but to other organisations as well, such as the Christian student association Ichthus and big companies like PwC and the Boston Consultancy Group!
So now what?
Ready to see this fabulousness for yourself? Come to the borrel! It is held every Wednesday from 9pm in a gay bar called Amstel Fifty-Four – the address is in the name. Although you can only register for membership during February or mid-August to mid-September, the borrel is always open to anyone. Afraid to come on your own? Can be fixed!
You should really consider going at least once: A.S.V.Gay is a great boost to your gay network and you will get to know a lot more of what happens in Amsterdam. Even if you’re not the type who likes big groups, or the atmosphere just isn’t your cup of tea, you might get to know new friends with whom you share that you’re not straight – and that can mean a lot. Still want to check some things out? Visit the website (or Dutch website) or Facebook page! And be sure to leave me a comment if you would like to know more! And if you already have some ideas of bars, clubs or events that I should mention in the other parts of my gay guide, please comment as well!