75 YEARS GAY IN ROTTERDAM
After the manifestation ‘75 years of Reconstruction in Rotterdam’, DIG IT UP started to explore the history of 75 years of gay Rotterdam. An exhibition, a talk show and the Pink Loft event paid attention to the long tradition of sexual diversity in Rotterdam. Pex Langenberg, alderman Mobility, Sustainability and Culture, opened the exhibition on September 22 at the gallery and heritage lab.
Rotterdam is an international port and had its first homo pub in the Thirties. Gay Rotterdam has celebrated famous artists in many different professions, such as:
Writer Anna Blaman
Urban planner Riek Bakker
The eccentric entrepreneur Prins de Lignac with his Dutch Language Institute and
Artists such as Andre van Duin, Paul de Leeuw and Richard Groenendijk
Many famous politicians, such as Pim Fortuyn and former alderman Herman Meijer
who was also known as the travestite ‘Hermien Katendrecht’.
They all contributed in many respects to the reconstruction of the City, not only in brick or architecture, but also in cultural aspects.
The ’75 Year Gay Rotterdam’ project was produced by DIG IT UP, in cooperation with among others the Rotterdam Pride, Gay Rotterdam Foundation, The Hang-Out 010, Ferry Rotterdam, Open Rotterdam and the Municipal Archives of Rotterdam. The project was made possible by the City of Rotterdam, in the context of ‘Meedoen in Rotterdam’ (Be Involved with Rotterdam) and The Van Leeuwen Van Lignac Foundation.
A number of portrayed people from the exhibition were interviewed in a TV show, which was hosted by ‘Oma Greet’ (an actor dressed as a grandmother). Cultural frontman Hugo Bongers spoke about the ‘g-factor of Rotterdam’, and Rob de Vries showed film fragments from his collection of films from gay Rotterdam of the eighties. Former alderman Herman Meijer told about his alter ego Hermien Katendrecht. Eddy Elsdijk spoke about his late partner Misty, who like no other could interpret the repertoire of Marlene Dietrich and Edit Piaf. The Oil Men performed spoken word and supported ‘Oma Greet’ during the interviews. Ferhat Asian (House of Boys) suggested a new concept for their parties and performed the music during the TV show.
The exhibition consisted of more than fifty photographs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual or asexual inhabitants of Rotterdam. The result was an exciting mix of interesting and eccentric elderly people with a mix of young intriguing people, who had just experienced their coming-out. The portraits, taken by Esther Erkelens (Des Esther’s Photography), only mentioned the profession of the person concerned. Thus, DIG IT UP showed how the LGBT community is now a natural part of Rotterdam society. There were portraits of, among others, urban planners, police, an evolutionary biologist, teachers and ministers. ’75 years of gay Rotterdam’ was an ode to all the gays whom played a role in the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam, through their work with cultural expertise and sexual diversity.