At the start of the month, we went to Amsterdam for Gay Pride, temporarily trading cheese and wine for waffles and beer. It gave us an opportunity to see how other European gays celebrate their LGBT culture. We thought it'd be fun to share some of the comparisons we saw. We checked in with some other locals from Amsterdam, Karl & Daan, from karlisworld, and our friend Miguel, to explore the similarities and differences.
Amsterdam – The gay nightlife in Amsterdam is spread out all of the city. Miguel tells us that the different subcultures are to be found in different areas. We spent most of our time on Reguliersdwarsstraat and Zeedijk at the many gay bars these street host. We also notice on our walks that there are a number of clubs and saunas, too. Karl & Daan tell us that the big parties, like Funhouse and Rapido, only happen a few times a year but are worth it.
Paris – Paris’s gay nightlife is centered round the Marais with a few more locations sprinkled in other neighborhoods. There is something for everyone from bars, to clubs, to dance parties, to saunas and sex clubs all mixed together. If you want it to you can find it. Big dance parties are year round in Paris with each organizer hosting a party nearly every month.
Winner: Overall, both cities seem pretty lively. We'll call it a draw.
Amsterdam - The Dutch may lose out here, according to Miguel. The general opinion, from outsiders, is that the Dutch are a bit more reserved and less flirtatious than some other European cultures. He says they are very passive and very bad at flirting, which doesn't surprise us too much after our trip. That's not to say that they aren't tall and dreamy all the same...
Paris - With a long tradition of being romantic saps, the French have this one cornered. Suave, attractive, fashionable, and seductive, the Parisian men still turn our heads from time to time. There's just something about them that we love (and Miguel agrees). While you might have to go through quite a few to find a stable one, French lovers are world-famous for a reason.
Winner: Paris, at least if you're single!
Amsterdam – Opened on September 5, 1987, the Homomonument is a memorial in the center of Amsterdam, near the historic Westerkerk church. It commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. Jutting out into the canal and doubling as a picnic area, we think it's pretty cool.
Paris – Last year, a memorial plaque was laid at crossroad of rue Montorgueuil and rue Bachaumont. It commemorates the last gay couple to be punished for homosexuality in France in the 1700s.
Winner: Amsterdam. Good effort, Paris, but we can do better than a plaque that most people will just walk over, no?
Amsterdam - The first nation to legalize gay marriage in the world (2001!), the Netherlands have been a leader in gay rights for some time. According to Miguel, the Dutch gays are very involved politically. As Karl wrote in his blog, "And there I was, remembering the fundamental ideals of the Pride celebrations worldwide: for the LGBTQ-community in Russia, Asia, Africa and even for my German home city Dresden, I am a proud member of this years Gay Pride Weekend Amsterdam." They're very aware in Amsterdam!
Paris - A little slow on marriage (2013), but with a civil union as of 1999, France isn't far behind. Parisian gays are extremely involved in politics (if the Pride Parade was any indication!) and we've had a very successful Parisian mayor who was openly gay, a current adjunct mayor who is as well, and an ambassador to the Vatican (yes, the Catholic one) who is openly gay.
Winner: While the Dutch have the history, but the French aren't lacking. A slight edge goes to Paris/France for stretching its tolerance out to international affairs.
Amsterdam – We know we were there at a particularly festive time of year when everyone loves to look their best and get their drag on but we noticed there were a lot of quality drag going on, all over the city. The even have Drag Queen Olympics during the Pride events!
Paris – Drag queens in Paris are rare. When something special is going on, like when Ru Paul’s Drag Race is in town, you might see them out in numbers. Otherwise, maybe seeing one over the weekend is as good as it’s going to get, and don’t expect a show unless you pay for a ticket at the iconic Cabaret Michou. We have seen one regular drag queen at the bar Quetzel, if you want to see some spectacle for free.
Winner: Amsterdam. No question.
Amsterdam – Pride takes over the whole city and is celebrated by everyone. It’s more than just one day, it’s more like a week starting with a pride walk, the main canal parade on Saturday, and further concerts on Sunday. Flag and balloons decorate almost every street and shop while citizens decorate their windows. The parade takes place on the canals in barges, which are all themed and decorated to the nines. It’s an amazing atmosphere with drinks and food being sold everywhere to keep everyone fed and watered (read: boozed) and having a great time. There are plenty of parties to choose from and several streets are shut off to keep the party going all night long. For more detail about Amsterdam Pride have a look at Karl & Daan's blog.
Paris – The celebrations are concentrated along the parade route and in the Marais. Rainbow flags are only really hung up along rue des Archives, in the heart of the gayborhood (with rainbows on City Hall for a day or two). The parade consists of trucks and buses playing load music, a couple of groups marching and a few political banners. The fun part is that anyone can join the parade and walk with the marchers at any time. It also ends in a concert at place de la Republique. Here’s our photo recap of Paris Pride.
Winner: Overall, points go to Amsterdam because it's much more celebratory and festive, but Paris, we still love you and your parade!
In the end, neither city loses. Either one is a veritable gay paradise compared to most other global cities. Still, let us know what you think of the two cities.