The Stonewall Uprising – which began in the early hours of Sunday, June 28, 1969 – was a turning point in the modern gay rights movement. Led by trans women of color, LGBT+ people in New York City fought back against police harassment and inspired LGBT+ people around the globe to fight to be treated like human beings. In the years that followed, LGBT+ communities worldwide arranged marches on the anniversary of Stonewall, which established the tradition of celebrating LGBT+ Pride during the last week in June.
In the Netherlands, LGBT+ rights groups turned this into a deeply local day of action, Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday). It took place in a different Dutch city each year and consisted of events aimed at changing the political landscape and confronting each city with the humanity of LGBT+ Dutchies. It was part of the successful campaign to bring about political change by making it feel like LGBT+ people were part of mainstream Dutch society. It meant, however, that the Netherlands had a weekend of political action, not one of celebration.
Enter the Gay Games. In 1998, LGBT+ athletes and celebrants from around the world flocked to Amsterdam for the Gay Games. To energize the city and lay the social groundwork for the Gay Games, organizers created a boat parade through the canal belt. The Games created so much energy and joy that the organizers decided to carry the spirit forward with a boat parade the following year. And thus, Amsterdam’s August Pride Parade was born.