The Netherlands is generally known for its tolerance and liberal attitudes towards sex and sexuality. It is therefore not surprising that, in legislative terms, members of the LGBT community are more-or-less afforded the same rights as heterosexuals. The majority of Dutch inhabitants support gay marriage and the right of gay couples to adopt children. There are a few dissenting voices, but these belong mainly to religious minorities, and they have not been loud enough to prevent the creation of legislation to protect and enforce LGBT rights. Overall, then, being gay isn’t really as big a deal in the Netherlands as it is in some other areas of Europe, so that you are able to feel relaxed about your sexuality here.

Amsterdam is probably the city most worth visiting in the Netherlands if you’re looking for activities and events that are specifically gay-related. Unlike in some capital cities, you will find that there is no particular designated area for gay bars and clubs – there is no ‘gay village’ to speak of. However, there are plenty of gay bars and other gay-friendly establishments spread throughout a city which is known for its openness and tolerance towards people of all different sexualities. You should therefore be able to enjoy yourself without being harassed about your sexuality.

In Amsterdam, there are numerous events intended to give the LGBT community an opportunity to celebrate their culture and to promote awareness of LGBT issues. One of the highlights on the calendar is Amsterdam Gay Pride, which is held in August. The event kicks off with a number of different street parties and is followed the day after by the highlight of the Amsterdam Gay Pride weekend – the Canal Parade. You will be able to watch decorated boats sailing through the Prinsengracht and Amstel River along with the other 500,000 or so spectators! Numerous parties are held across the weekend and usually there are well-known DJs performing sets. You will therefore find plenty of opportunities to drink, listen to music, dance, and pick up men!

Amsterdam is also home to the largest gay and lesbian tennis club in the world and the Pinkster Tennis Tournament is held in May, giving members of the LGBT community an opportunity to compete. Leather Pride is another popular event held in Amsterdam, giving gay men with an interest in leather and BDSM a chance to meet like-minded men. The White Party is also held in the city and the only stipulation is that you wear white! The White Party is actually held in different cities across the world, with each city putting their own spin on things, although the target audience remains the same – those belonging to the LGBT community – thus giving you an opportunity to meet men if that is what you desire! Although Amsterdam is really at the heart of LGBT culture in the Netherlands, there are also activities in other cities. A festival, known as MidZomerGracht, is held in Utrecht in June and involves two weeks of sport, special exhibitions, culture and debate. It is a celebration of gay culture that appeals to a diverse audience. In Tilburg, there is a funfair that is open for 10 days, and attracts the largest number of attendees on ‘Pink Monday’ when the LGBT crowd turns out in force, enjoying the rides and taking in the party atmosphere.

Ultimately, then, if you intend to visit the Netherlands, Amsterdam has to be your first port of call, since this is the place to be if you want to get a taste of Dutch gay culture. This is where you will find most LGBT-flavoured events are held and where an assortment of gay bars and clubs are located. Overall, though, the Netherlands is a tolerant and welcoming country, so that you should feel at home wherever you go.

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