Lesbian people

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This article provides insight into the evolution of lesbian activism and culture over the years in the Dutch capital, demonstrating that political activism often goes hand in hand with a vibrant nightlife.

Amsterdam boasts a diverse and lively lesbian subculture with deep historical roots. In 1946, the COC, still one of the important LGBT+ organizations today, was founded. During the 1950s, the COC established two bars in Amsterdam and organized numerous community gatherings. Particularly in its early decades, the COC was considered revolutionary, as homosexual relationships were punishable by Dutch law until 1971, including lesbian relationships, which were not always officially recognized.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many lesbian women played pivotal roles in the women’s rights movement, advocating for issues such as free abortion, safety on the streets, and sexual freedom. In 1972, feminist Noor van Crevel and her partner Stéphanie de Voogd founded an activist group aimed at challenging heterosexual norms in society, declaring that “being lesbian is a political choice.”

In 1978, the iconic Café Saarein opened its doors in De Jordaan. Founded by Saar and Rein and later taken over by Dia Roozemond, it became one of the most significant spots for queer women in the city, now the oldest surviving women’s cafe in Amsterdam and a must-visit destination.

Another vital queer space in Amsterdam is De Trut, a non-commercial queer bar established in 1985 in the squatted Tetterode complex. Its founders, involved in the fight for equal rights for “dykes and fags,” aimed to create a safe environment where individuals could truly be themselves.

Café ‘t Mandje, dating back to 1927, is another historic LGBTQ+ landmark in Amsterdam. As one of the first openly gay bars in the city, it has a typical Dutch cozy “bruin café” ambiance and welcomes all members of the community.

In recent years, numerous new spaces for lesbian and queer women have emerged, such as Bar Buka in the De Pijp neighborhood and Bar Bario in the West, which prioritizes providing a safe space, particularly for marginalized communities like trans and queer people of color. Pamela, a nearby queer bar, is also dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive environment for weekend nights out.

For parties, Janey, a lesbian party held regularly at various clubs across Amsterdam, is a must-attend event. Lesbique organizes community-based queer parties, welcoming individuals of all genders and sexualities, and showcasing queer and underground artists at venues like Club Church. Additionally, Flirtation on the Beach, an annual event held in Bloemendaal aan Zee, offers a summer highlight for the LGBTQ+ community.

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