I was watching an interview with Courtney Act yesterday and someone asked her about her first pride experience. It made me think back about mine.
Although I live close to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and we have a great pride history, the first time I visited a pride was actually in Oslo. Due to my work I had the opportunity to go to Scandinavia often and I had started to bring some dresses, heels and makeup on every trip.
In June 2018 I was in Oslo for a couple of days to have meetings at a customer. During the evenings and on one afternoon I would have the time for myself. This was a great opportunity to go out as Liv and go and see a bit of Oslo. Without me knowing it was pride week in Oslo. The minute I arrived at central station, I was welcomed with rainbows, colorful balloons and posters for the pride in all the stores and restaurants. The Olso pride had taken over the city.
I had been out in Oslo a couple of times before and the people are really open minded and kind. But seeing this was really heartwarming. This changed my plans. I really wanted to go out and experience the pride. I had no chance to join or see the parade, but pride park was open every night with shows, music, food, and a wonderful colorful crowd. As I had not expected this all, I had not brought a special outfit, but being summer, I decided to wear a linnen skirt, a black tanktop and my favorite jeans jacket.
The pride park, located in front of the national theater, was a wonderful place. I started to walk around and see what was happening, and before I knew I had wonderful conversations. I remember meeting a nice girl. She had traveled from Lillehammer with her friends to go the pride as she loved the atmosphere. Before I knew I had been introduced to the full group. It felt wonderful to be accepted.
I love dancing and with all the music around me, I couldn’t hold it and had to move my body and dance. It was a great feeling being out in summer, dancing in a skirt. I felt wonderful and I guess one guy thought I was too. He started to dance with me, which was fine as I had been meeting many people that evening. But then he asked me to come to his apartment nearby. This took me by surprise, but I made clear to him I was not interested. Then he grabbed my behind and tried to pull me closer. At that point I pushed him away and I must have been very clear I did not appreciate that at all, as he left and disappeared immediately.
This was a new experience to me and it took me really off guard. The fact he had grabbed me and pulled me closer, while I had made clear I was not interested, made me angry. Had I just experienced how rude guys can be to women? Luckily he had gone quickly, so I could continue to enjoy my evening.
I went on to see some other areas and had a great time. Oslo Pride is amazing. Sadly I couldn’t make it too late, as the next day I had to go to work again. I started to walk back to my hotel and slowly the sound of the live music and the crowd started to fade. Lost in my thoughts about the the experiences this evening, I suddenly heard a car pull up next to me. The guy behind the wheel was looking at me and invited me to join him. I friendly declined and he drove off.
It was the second time that night a man asked me out. It made me feel seen the way I want to be seen, as a woman. But also made me experience how people approach you in a very different way, depending on how you express yourself. It made me very aware how direct and even insensitive some men are to women. I haven’t had any worries about my safety, but I can imagine women feel vulnerable at times.
I don’t worry when I go out, but I am mindful and I always read about the neighborhood, or place I will visit, to see if they are supporting or open minded. When visiting unfamiliar places I always stick to crowded areas or meet up with friends. As a woman I need to be a bit more careful.