Twente students sail in Amsterdam Gay Pride

| Patricia Reyes

Aboard the Twente boat, the LGBT+ student association ‘Exaltio’ will be present during the opening parade of Amsterdam’s Gay Pride on Saturday. What is it like to be a part of this national event?

Photo by: Ramon Stoppelenburg, Flickr

‘The theme of this year’s canal parade is “heroes”,’ explains Vera Korblet, Master student of Communication Studies and a board member of Exaltio. ‘As the Twente region is recognized for its many educational institutions, the LHBTI-Twente organization thought the true heroes are the teachers and everyone in the education environment that provides a safe place for LGBT+ students.’ Following this rationale, Twente’s participation in Gay Pride called for the presence of students.

On board the Twente boat

Even though the Twente boat has partaken the Gay Pride parade in the past, this will be the first time for the young association Exaltio which was invited to join the Twente boat at the beginning of this year. ‘A member from LGBT and Friends at Saxion reached out to us and said “we want you in the boat too!”,’ recalls Korblet. During the parade, Exaltio members will carry a sponsored flag from the University of Twente. ‘To me, that’s a big deal because they’re showing their support explicitly,’ reflects the student.

The Twente boat’s decoration will mostly be filled with red and white colors. Participants carry red hand fans, lollipops, and balloons. ‘We also prepared dances for two songs. There is a focus on audience participation,’ says Korblet, ‘it’s a lot of fun.’

'It’s okay to be who you are'

Exaltio’s participation in Gay Pride is an opportunity to boost their presence at the university. The association started out in 2016 with the idea to strengthen the LGBT+ community at the University of Twente. Since then, Exaltio has reached out its invitation to all students in the region and is quickly getting broader recognition.

‘During the previous Kick-In, we doubled our number of members. We have also been connecting a lot more with our sister associations in Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht, et cetera. Participating in Pride is a logical step for us. We're very ambitious, we want to grow much more,’ explains Korblet.

'It's still scary to be out' 

Besides the potential for community growth, Korblet believes participating in Pride is also aligned to Exaltio’s core motivations. ‘Pride is a celebration of who you are. By being ourselves, open and proud, we show that it’s perfectly okay to be who you are. That's also what we want to accomplish with our association. For a lot of our members, Exaltio is a kind of journey because it's still scary to be out. Exaltio is like a warm bath, a place where you can be yourself.’