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Rotterdam: a new Gay Destination?

by Kees Vrijdag

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark: you know what you are doing, but nobody else does. The problem of Rotterdam as a nice stage location for gays and lesbians in a nutshell.

Generally the Rotterdam inhabitants know how to find their way and for gays that holds even more. There are nice cafés, party's, gatherings, etcetera. But it is not easy to find the offer. Some pioneers in the Rotterdam gay community was concerned about this, and organised in the Rotterdam City Hall a large working meeting 'Rotterdam as a Gay Destination' in February 2014 for some 100 involved persons from all nooks and crannies and layers of of the city. Result: a '10-Points Plan' to exhibit Rotterdam as an attractive place for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. The collected points are amongst other things about nightlife, the situation at work, the pink living atmosphere, sports and education. And, of course, also in the field of city marketing: How to sell Gay Rotterdam.

One of the most important points was a website for a compiled web presentation to all women and men about pink hotspots and nice events. That website does now exist at:

In September 2014 the Rotterdam municipal government sent the initiators a positive letter: "we agree with you that our cosmopolitic city has much to offer for th LGBT-group and that this specific offer deserves more (inter)national attention. The city government therefore would like to see concrete plans, to, for example, include gay city marketing in e.g. an annual plan. An important role is thereby seen for 'Rotterdam Partners' promoting the whole city on a national level, as well as, abroad.

The GayDestination working meeting in february 2014 with the introduction by mayor Aboutaleb. Mouse-over: People participating in the debate.

In the meantime the initiators had founded a gay community. This group will in togetherness and with changing 'project initiators' make concrete plans to elaborate the remaining 9 Points.

'The 10-Points Plan' of Gay Destination:

  1. An (inter)national website should be produced for and about gay(friendly) Rotterdam with the total offer of activities for gays.
  2. Large enterprises, educational institutions, governments etc. give a place to gays in their textual and visual communications.
  3. Existing gay cafes, bars etc and parties will refresh and strengthen their marketing efforts. Cooperation in and between this sector, as well as in tourism and the hotel sector is necessary for higher attractiveness for gay(friendly) public.
  4. In its marketing, Rotterdam more pronouncedly exposes itself as a city were 'being different' has a positive value where gay lifestyle is a part of living, working and staying in the city.
  5. During large events an festivals in Rotterdam, like North Sea Yazz, the International Filmfestival and the World Harbour Days, there will be side programmes for gays.
  6. A Rotterdam Pride-event will be organised on an annual basis: a (musical) event that will on longer term develop into an important icon for Rotterdam as Gay Destination.
  7. Boards of Directors and Commissioners of companies, governments etc. will become aware of the 'pink' value for their organisations when they give space to gay(friendly) initiatives, e.g. by establishment of of pink networks.
  8. The 'van Oldebarneveldtstraat' will be one of the sites in the city serving as physical point of recognition for gays. Additions to the there already established cafés and bars is desirable, particularly during the day, with shops selling clothes, lingerie, styling, art and design, that have a strong appeal on gays.
  9. Organisations existing for those who (still) have difficulties with their homosexuality will cooperate better, and the communication about their activities will be improved.

    Note: Point 10 (the establishment of a Gay Commissioner as 'paid catalyst' in the city) is changed into the unpaid Gay Committee realizing the plan.

Would you like to know more about Gay Destination? Or do you have a suggestion for the Gay Committee? Send a mail to Claus Verbrugge on e-mail adress

Photography: Gay Destination organisation.

Translation: Teun Botterweg.

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Did you know that...

Gay Destination was developed in accordance with the 'Amsterdam model'? In 2012, the men behind Gay Destination (Jos Hooyschuur, Emile Klep and Claus Verbruggen) already talked with Roy Vinke, who did apply this concept earlier on the Amsterdam gay-world. It resulted amongst other things in the fact that Amsterdam was long time regarded as the Gay Capital of the World. Whether or not Rotterdam will await the same status? We will wait and see.