A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I had quite a lot of topics to write about for my first ever post for The Leidener. This was not one of those topics. Thursday night I learned that the next day was National Coming-Out Day.
In the morning when I got out of my building the first thing I saw was a tram with a rainbow flag. What a wonderful way to start the day! I also had a really nice soundtrack at the back so I was walking to my morning lecture in a very happy state, thinking of the flag as a very nice gesture. Later I learned that ALL trams and busses had these flags.
In a few minutes I was at the center, more specifically the Hofvijver. If you can’t pronounce it like me, you can also say the watery thing with the flags. The Hofvijver -most of the time- has the flags of the 12 Dutch provinces. Not today. Nope. Today they were putting up rainbow flags! As I passed by, I saw a group of people as well as some journalists and cameraman waiting for it to be 9 am, the official time when the flags would be up. As I kept walking the smile on my face got bigger. I was amazed by the Spirit of Celebration.
But it also got me thinking… I come from a country where being gay is something better kept as a secret. Here, in the Netherlands, LGBT rights are protected by the law. It’s not just the law that is important though, it’s the society that should be in a state where differences don’t matter and everyone can accept each other the way they are. No judgments, no stereotypes… One Love. Later that day, in a workgroup we were looking at a map about human rights and the topic came to gay rights. As we looked at the map about gay rights in different countries, the worst part was seeing the death penalties that some countries had, just for being gay.
There I was thinking about all these concepts and laws and ideas… Why couldn’t we all just accept each other? Not just tolerate but accept. Why couldn’t we all love each other – unconditionally? Living here and seeing the National Coming-Out Day showed me that there was hope, that things could be better. It’s a long and bumpy ride but we can do this and we can see the day on which everyone can celebrate being who they are.
Spirit of Celebration. One Love. Imagine.
Song of the day: Macklemore – Same Love
PS. I wanted to post this on the day itself but two dear friends of mine came over and it was around 2 am when they left. Then again unplanned nights end up being the best and are a part of university life, right?