Summer of Fun, fear and forward movement
By Larry van Dever
Over the summer several things occurred that brought some kind of fun and or excitement to the lives of many. The last few months have also been rocked by the scourge of terrorism in several parts of Europe. This is certainly something that touches each and every one of us; gay, straight, black, white, male or female. It has also seen the unification of religious groups as well.
Right here in Netherlands the threat level remains at Level 4 on a scale of 5. And while authorities say there is no concrete evidence that terrorist are actually preparing for an attack in Netherlands reports say there is still a real chance that an attack could occur in the Netherlands.
So you may wonder why I have brought up the topic. Well over the last few months several people including myself have travelled to parts of Europe and from those I have spoken to the fear is real.
In December 2016 Dutch police arrested a 30-year-old man in Rotterdam on suspicion of planning a terror attack. The man was arrested when police raided an apartment where he lived. Officers found an AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle with two full magazines in the apartment as well as four boxes of highly explosive illegal fireworks. So that there are lots of reasons to be vigilant and careful.
According to a recent study published by Statistics Netherlands, some 70 percent of adult Dutch are worried about a terrorist attack being committed in the Netherlands. The study also said four in ten Dutch think there is a good chance of an attack in the Netherlands.
The UK government’s website says “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in the Netherlands. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.”
Only a few weeks ago I was in Spain so imagine my hysteria at the time of writing this blog while looking at BREAKING NEWS on television that a white van mowed down tourists and residents on Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas boulevard, and a car was driven into pedestrians in the popular seaside resort of Cambrils. The driver killed 13 people and injured more than 100, and then fled. What was even more frightening was only that a few days before a close friend and his wife was in Las Ramblas on vacation.
It is instances like this that we must face and as it seems it’s almost on a weekly basis. For many who have travelled to Netherlands to find a new life you are smack in the middle on this ongoing terror. I urge each and every one to be vigilant and aware of surroundings especially when scores of people are gathered.
Speaking of gathering, hundreds turned out this year to witness and or be part of the Amsterdam Gay Pride Calal Parade 2017. Great weather and company all conspired to make this year’s event a huge success. Amsterdam Pride was first organized in 1996, meant as a festival to celebrate freedom and diversity. It was therefore not like many other Gay Prides, which began as demonstrations for equal rights. I am a firm believer that it is always a good thing to remind ourselves of the history and what happened in the past to allow us the freedom we now enjoy. As usual the asiel group of COC Groningen/Drenthe participated with over 40 members in attendance.
Also during the summer the asiel group of COC Groningen/Drenthe hosted a week long Drama Workshop. The workshop took place at the NHL Hogeschool in Leeuwarden. Attended by several participants the workshop was tutored by Joop Hoekstra.
During the week participants were treated to lessons in Singing, Dancing, and acting lessons. At the end of the week they were handed certificates of participation but not before the showcased what they had learned over the week by putting on a half hour long on stage performance before an audience.
In the coming months the asiel group of COC Groningen/Drenthe will embark on several projects and programmes aimed at lending support to our members. From sex education and vaccination to bonding exercises and personal stories and conversations.
If you are interested to attend these monthly meetings feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next few meetings are carded for Sunday 9th September, 2017, Sunday 1st October, 2017 and Sunday 29th October, 2017. For further information and venue location please email us.
Also if you wish to have your story told on our blog feel free to also email us at email@example.com
We would like to invite you to send us your own personal stories and comments. You can reach us by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read Larry’s previous blogs of June 2017 here April 2017 here March 2017 here and December 2016 here.