| Niels ter Meer

With pride month being preceded by a series of incidents, student columnist Niels ter Meer thinks our community must reiterate that being able to be yourself is a non-negotiable tenet and thus to stand against hate.


As some of you might know, the month of June is pride month. Presumably to celebrate the occasion, the municipality installed a rainbow crossing was installed on the streets near our brethren of Saxion — the gaybrapath. A beautiful gesture of the municipality. Only some tutholas objected, defacing it with tire marks and black paint.

Disappointing, but not surprising. To me personally, it is self-evident that everyone, regardless of one’s gender, sexual orientation, or self-expression, is entitled to the same respect, to be treated equally, and due their own self-determination; yet to some it is not. We’re living in an age where the self-evidence of those tenets seems to be waning, being resubjected to debate by bigots — be it fundamentalists, TERFs, or just jerks with sawdust in the part of their brain where empathy was supposed to be.

The engineer inside me (sorry, I have to!) says that these people steadfastly and irrationally attach themselves to a particularly outdated and flawed model: one where gender is intrinsically linked to biological sex, and where sexual orientation isn’t a spectrum. Most people have moved on from those models, to ones where both gender, sexuality, and even biological sex itself, are a spectrum.

But even though those models do accurately describe those bigots — it’s not like people are denying the existence of cisgender heterosexual people — they throw a fit, either because they deem its application to them somehow detracts value of their own identity, or because when kindly requested to apply it to others, it is ‘forced upon them’. Or the children, think of the children!

The gaybrapath isn’t the only example. Recently in Groningen, staff at a drag bar were attacked, and on the same day the office of an LGBTQ interest group in Eindhoven was attacked too. In Delft, a pride flag was burned by vandals. Each a city with a university and a large student populace.

Now consider that every year, a fresh batch of newly minted (almost adults), our dearly beloved sjaarsen, descend upon our city and our university (and all those others), a subset of whom will invariably will have dealt or will have to deal with questions of their identity. ‘Who am I, what am I, what is the best description of me as a person, and how do I express myself?’ But when bigotry and oppression may be around the corner, answering these questions becomes even harder than it already is.

So the tire marks on the crossing once again underscore that there still exists an intolerant undercurrent which must be dealt with. Ideally, a university and its city should be a place where people can experiment with themselves, to form into their true self — not one where they might have second thoughts, or feel unsafe about doing so. As a community we must unequivocally assert that these are the tenets; as it is the truth. Let people be proud of who they are.

And thus, happy pride.

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