Amsterdam | Christmas | Drag Queens | News

Amsterdam's 'Pink Christmas' Features Mary in Drag, Leather Joseph


An event called 'Pink Christmas' opened in Amsterdam on Thursday, the AP reports:

"Organizers said the event was meant to raise Amsterdam's profile as a gay capital at a time when homosexuals feel threatened. Christians for Truth, an independent religious group, had asked the city council to cancel the 'Pink Christmas,' event, saying it made a mockery of Christian tenets. The city did not comment. A male entertainer known as Wendy Mills posed as Mary in a blonde wig and high-heeled black boots and holding a plastic doll. Another man played Joseph in black leather trunks and a silver shawl. The five-person manger scene was staged off the street, in the courtyard of a nightclub. Visitors were invited to be photographed with the group."

Amsterdam City Council sponsored the 'Pink Christmas' event, which features vendor stalls and gay-themed holiday card sales, at a cost of $21,000.

Said the event's chairman Frank van Dalen: "Our objective is not to be offensive. This is about visibility."

So nice of Amsterdam to broadcast to the world that the gay community is made up of drag queens or kinky leather fetishists. No doubt this story will get much more play for its colorful theatrics than the candlelight vigils that went on across America Saturday night.

A group called Christians for Truth objected to Amsterdam's event in a statement: "By portraying Joseph and Mary as homosexuals, a twisted human fantasy is being added to the history of the Bible."

One more shot, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. I am not offended by the photos.
    But I was taken aback by the statement following them.

    So much so I went away and came back hoping I misread it.

    Context is everything. Prop 8 passing, the revitalizing of the gay rights movement, hate crimes are increasing. I can understand the sentiment expressed but am surprised it was here!

    As a international visitor I read your postings daily.
    I am amazed at the range of topics covered. I am learning more about gay rights issues.
    I have laughed, even been moved to tears but today I was disgusted by the commentary.
    Would it not have been better not to post anything about this?

    You sound almost petulant that this would get more coverage than the candlelight vigils.
    But is your site not popular, have a huge audience; so by definition your posting of these photos will only increase their proliferation. Just a thought.

    Posted by: Stephen | Dec 22, 2008 4:19:50 AM

  2. And what is wrong with drag queens and leathermen, Andy (if that indeed is you)?????

    Posted by: Marc in Chgo | Dec 22, 2008 5:19:17 AM

  3. I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and defend BJ. Christianity is important to a lot of people and not all of those people are bigots or homophobes or even straight. It's a tad disrespectful to take one of the most sacred images of a religion and mock it just to attract tourism.

    I would have had no problem in Mary and Joseph were portrayed as Mac & Josie or Marc & Joseph. Showing Jesus' parents as a loving couple in any form/sex would be fine. I also have no problem with different ideas of how God would look. God as a Leather Daddy would be fine because we have no image of him to go by but do so with some intellectual or social purpose not just because you want to attract a few tourists. The Bible is wrong on many things but people, good people, often focus on the things it gets right.

    It is no different than disrespecting Mohammed or the Star of David. We cannot ask for respect and equality when we blatantly choose to disrespect religion.

    Posted by: Dustin | Dec 22, 2008 7:43:46 AM

  4. Andy what a shocker of a comment.In fact the gay community is made up of drag queens and kinky leather queens and a whole lot more diverse groups of people.What's the point of championing diversity if you draw the line at people or behaviour that offends your sensibilities.I also would like to add that the Dutch gay community have had the right to marry one another since 2001,and in fact were the first country to legalise same sex marriage,so they must be doing something right. Meanwhile you organise another candlelighbt vigil and prepare for an inauguration with a priest that has compared you to paedophiles and people who commit incest.

    Posted by: jeff | Dec 22, 2008 8:06:03 AM

  5. I think it is these people's right to dress how they want and do what they will as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights or safety which it doesn't.

    That being said, as a gay Christian I personally don't like it. I'm sure if they dressed up as something for Ramadan or Hannukah gay Muslim's and gay Jews would find it offense.

    Even though I don't like it, I wouldn't take away their right to do it just as I wouldn't want my right to practice my religion taken away.

    As to Andy's comment, I think what he was trying to convey was that we are trying to win over the hearts and minds of people who disagree with the gay community wanting to get married. Does this stoke the flames of war or help our cause?

    Posted by: Matt | Dec 22, 2008 9:09:21 AM

  6. What BJ said.

    How in the world can we expect to be treated with respect if we're not willing to do the same to others?

    What goes around comes around guys.

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Dec 22, 2008 9:35:04 AM

  7. So, the presence of drag queens and leather folk is automatically degrading and offensive, and the Dutch are required to organize their cultural activities according to the dictates of American politics. I see.

    Posted by: MAJeff | Dec 22, 2008 9:47:32 AM

  8. Regarding the offensive line in question:

    "So nice of Amsterdam to broadcast to the world that the gay community is made up of drag queens or kinky leather fetishists."

    I think the word that is missing (but implicit) is 'exclusively', as in "So nice of Amsterdam to broadcast to the world that the gay community is made up exclusively of drag queens or kinky leather fetishists."

    The only lingering issue that I have is that Amsterdam, as a city, did not broadcast anything to the world--the organizers of Pink Christmas did. I found the photos to be a pleasant reminder(for those who believe in them) that Mary, Joseph and Jesus represent spiritual concepts and values for all of mankind, not just for heterosexuals.

    Posted by: David D. | Dec 22, 2008 10:00:34 AM

  9. Jesus would have eaten this shit up! It's an homage . . . from a segment of society . . . no less reverent than those crazy 3-d bleeding hearts of jesus/magical mary in a waterfall rotating fiber-optic wall displays . . . which - for a segment of society - are the height of respect.

    no one in that stable thought he was going to be the poster for all gays OR all christians. No one outside of that stable should be throwing stones.

    That said, drop the fantasy guys, let's move past the magical guy in the sky era.

    Posted by: Chad | Dec 22, 2008 10:27:25 AM

  10. I agree with Matt: If that "scene" was of a Muslim or Jewish tradition people would be up in arms. However, because it is a Christian image, it suddenly becomes "OK" to do it. Its not right not matter what. As a gay man from a Christian (Catholic even) family, this offends me. I am sure this would offend my family, all of whom have been very supportive from day one. This does not make me self-loathing or in any bit ashamed of myself. It just doesn't make sense to me that for some reason society thinks it is OK to pick on Christians and then the gay community gets mad when they don't like us. I don't like "us" when we do things like this. It makes no sense to piss people off just for the sake of pissing people off. That just causes more problems.

    Posted by: BC | Dec 22, 2008 12:28:14 PM

  11. I full heartedly agree. All the leather boys/daddys and drag queens deserve all equal rights. But come on guys. We know that
    the only way to get the "general public" to begin to accept us as a community including all is the start main stream. I don't agree with the "scene" and think it's doing nothing but setting us back

    Posted by: willy | Dec 22, 2008 1:25:37 PM

  12. Chad? How can you"drop the magical guy in the sky era" when that's what this country is based on? I agree that most of it is BS but there's no way we are going to change anything when we don't try to work with their world. We can pretend by living in ours that
    anything will change.

    Posted by: cal | Dec 22, 2008 1:28:32 PM

  13. oops, sorry, "we CAN'T just live in our world and pretend that things will change."

    Posted by: cal | Dec 22, 2008 1:30:59 PM

  14. Wow, it is nice to see rampant homophobia is still making the rounds amongst the LGBTQ community. I guess if you can't beat them, join them.

    Not everbody is Christian or has no sense of pride and humour.

    Posted by: J.B. | Dec 22, 2008 1:57:59 PM

  15. Cal, we do it by changing what this country thinks it is based on. By not giving an inch. By demanding rational thought, civic duty, mutual respect, and the complete implementation of our founding fathers' vision -- the separation of church and state. No exceptions.

    Posted by: Chad in NYC | Dec 22, 2008 2:12:20 PM

  16. I'm a regular visitor to this site, and I also found this line to be totally out of character for Towleroad - my first assumption was that it was some kind of misprint, but since it hasn't been amended by the poster then clearly it's deliberate... I'm no particular fan of drag queens or leather types, but I just see this as a bit of harmless fun (and if it offends religious bigots, even better), and certainly not worthy of all the scorn being directed at it, by poster and commentors alike.

    If Amsterdam wishes to hold this kind of event, then who are you in the US to have an opinion about it? Foreigners who give their opinions about American issues (eg Elton John and Rufus Wainwright on US gay marriages) get pretty short shrift on this site, but you Americans are allowed to criticise foreigners for what they do in their own countries? As Jeff points out, the Dutch have had same-sex marriage since 2001, so clearly the Netherlands is considerably more enlightened than the US.

    And as Urbantroll noted, this blog is scarcely in any position to take any kind of moral high ground in regard to publicising the diversity of LGBT expression - I don't recall such editorial disapproval when there was the (typically American) furore about the beer company-sponsored Folsom Fair ad featuring a take-off of da Vinci's Last Supper... And didn't most of the posters here rally to the site's defence when criticism was levelled at it when it was invited to the Democratic Convention due to some evangelical objecting to the images contained herein? Don't blame the foreigners, who have fought and won their own equality battles, for exercising your home-grown bigots when these types already have plenty of domestic sources to base their homophobia upon...

    If you think your candle-light vigils are the way to facilitate social change then all power to you, but this xenophobic puritanism sure won't advance your cause.

    Posted by: johnnzboy | Dec 22, 2008 3:06:03 PM

  17. Religion needs to be continuously mocked by nonbelievers so believers can continue to display their hypocrisy. Freedom of speech gives everyone the right to mocks others beliefs, particularly when they're batshit insane and demonstrably malignant to the species as a whole.

    If religions want to continue spewing their idiocy, they have to accept that they're going to be mocked for it.

    Posted by: Iko | Dec 22, 2008 3:23:30 PM

  18. I, too, can't believe I read those comments on this blog. Shocking.

    As if we all must fall in line and conform so that straights think we're safe and normal enough to knight us with their validation?
    This is sadly self-loathing.

    Equality has nothing to do with behavior, and if you're offended by this--I say you should be offended a lot more often.

    Posted by: Jesse Archer | Dec 22, 2008 5:42:52 PM

  19. "We know that the only way to get the "general public" to begin to accept us as a community including all is the start main stream. I don't agree with the "scene" and think it's doing nothing but setting us back

    Posted by: willy | Dec 22, 2008 1:25:37 PM"

    Actually I disagree with you substantially. I think blending into the mainstream does nothing to increase our acceptance or visibility. Blending into the mainstream allows the bigots to pretend we dont exist.

    Im not saying everyone should be a drag queen or a leather daddy. Im saying that all of us should be as free to express ourselves as any other member of society. If that means going in drag to a party or wearing leather or wearing only Brooks Brothers then thats your right.

    The "scene" isnt setting us back any more than the nightclub scene sets straights back. Its not like our straight friends arent out there doing everything we are. Its just that the bigots like to make out that we are the deviant ones while theyre all pure. Which is a hugely delusional lie obviously. Besides, why blend in? Why not stand out! Isnt that what Barack Obama is doing? Standing out?? Why shouldn't we??

    Posted by: OberonOZ | Dec 22, 2008 7:25:38 PM

  20. I think that Andy's comment was right on the mark. Just because an action is legally permissible does not mean that it is productive. Of course drag and leather queens (just another form of drag; chiffon or leather, take your pick) are a valuable part of our community. They are being used in this display, however, in a calculated move to offend. The designers have achieved their goal in offending many but what positive outcome has been realized? Yes, they have given a few silly queens the giggles and stood up to "the man". They have also shown their immaturity (and, frankly, lack of creativity.) Yes, atheists are free to practice and proclaim their non-belief system but when the majority culture consists of religious faithful one must show respect if one expects to be treated with respect. Didn't your parents or a teacher or mentor explain this to you when you were still in single digits? This is not the way to stand up for our rights.

    Posted by: rudy | Dec 23, 2008 7:59:54 AM

  21. I step forward, 2 steps back.

    Posted by: Bob West | Dec 23, 2008 9:27:58 AM

  22. I step forward, 2 steps back.

    Posted by: Bob West | Dec 23, 2008 9:28:36 AM

  23. I guess we really are doomed to repeat gay history over and over and over again.

    Mattachine / Reminder Day dress codes, anyone?
    Kirk & Madsen's After the Ball?
    Bawer's Place at the Table?

    Been there, done that. To paraphrase an important Supreme Court decision, the argument was wrong then and it's wrong today.
    Y'all do know that "gay agenda" the right wingers are always talking about, right? It's Kirk & Madsen. Check it out sometime.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Dec 23, 2008 9:42:16 AM

  24. i was apart of the drag olympics .I did not know about the mary in drag . As a gay i think it was funny , but also on the religous side of things i thought it was over the top especialy the virgin mary smoking / drinking .

    Posted by: daniel | Dec 23, 2008 1:24:30 PM

  25. I think my remarks were misunderstood, or perhaps more likely poorly expressed. I would never object to anyone having the right to do something like this and I have certainly enjoyed being in the presence of drag queens and the leather community. My criticisms should were actually more toward the amount of stories I saw in the international press on this story vs more serious stories like marriage equality protests and anti-gay violence. It's unfortunate but true that international media will pick up the drag queen story off the AP wire and it will run in thousands of papers while stories like the protests and the lesbian gang rape will hardly be noticed. My criticisms should have been directed at the MSM which was pissing me off rather than at these folks in Amsterdam, and were not properly expressed.

    Posted by: Andy Towle | Dec 27, 2008 3:44:11 PM

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