Laatste Meningen

10-23-2008 | Robbie| 0 reacties

I’m an American. My partner is British. And for nearly 10 years, we were Amsterdammers.

Ten years ago, neither of our countries would allow us to be together.  But the Dutch welcomed us with open arms. At that time, yours was one of only three nations in the world that would grant residency to both an EU citizen and his foreign same-sex partner. So, we landed in Amsterdam – a Yank and a Brit, united by love, exiled by law.

I saw a lot in my decade in Amsterdam. I rejoiced as the Netherlands bravely become the first nation in the world to legalize marriage between two men and two women. And I continue to watch in awe as the world follows suit.

I’ve also seen the struggle to come to terms with growing immigrant communities, the rise of conservative politics, and the reports of gay men brutally beaten on the streets of Amsterdam for the crime of holding hands. 

What I hope for Holland in the coming years is that its people and its politicians will have the courage to continue to be a guiding light to the world. The Dutch have always been ahead of their time in this field. It would be a great loss to the world to see the forces of intolerance accommodated in Amsterdam.

In fact, what I would love to see is a “post-tolerant” Amsterdam. After all, doesn’t the concept of tolerance start from the assumption that the “other” is intolerable by nature? Shouldn’t we be looking to move beyond toleration towards dialogue, understanding, acceptance?  I may be a gay, immigrant, pot-smoking Jew, but I am not intolerable. I just am.

Sadly, I am no longer an Amsterdammer. Times have changed and Britain has welcomed us back. But we will never forget the lifeline that Amsterdam once offered us. My own national anthem portrays America as the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. Well, it doesn’t always feel that way to me. It’s Holland that has been my land of the free. And, now more than ever, let’s hope it is the home of the brave.

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