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The journey from Orlando to Willemsplein Featured

in opdracht van CBK Rotterdam in opdracht van CBK Rotterdam Denis Guzzo

The road to a monument to sexual and gender diversity

You may have seen a rainbow-colored seating object on Willemsplein when you were on the tram or cycling across the Erasmus Bridge. In early June 2020, the red blades, known as ReWind, were placed back on Willemsplein with a strikingly colorful new appearance. But how did this object get to this location? And why?

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On June 14, 2016, the Rotterdam LGBTQI + community commemorated the terrible attack on the nightclub in Orlando. On the initiative of The Hang-Out 010 and COC Rotterdam, a suitable place to commemorate was sought. In other cities there was a monument where people gathered, such as Amsterdam, The Hague and even Schiedam. Rotterdam had no such place. Therefore, it was decided to start a quiet journey in FERRY on the Westblaak and lay flowers and burn candles at the intersection where the rainbow crosswalk was located. There was no real time to stand still. We had to go through and make room for the next in line.

Gert-Jan Verboom (then Hang-Out), Marc Kabbedijk (FERRY) and Dora Borst (then director of Rotterdam Pride) once again felt the feeling that Rotterdam needed such a place. They sought help from Claus Verbrugge and Kees Vrijdag and started lobbying the municipality. This resulted in a citizens' initiative.

Pulse Orlando


Citizen's initiative

The citizen's initiative for a monument for sexual and gender diversity received broad support in the city council through a motion by then-council member Judith Bokhove on behalf of Groen Links and the PvdA. A nice boost for the initiators and the start of a longer process.
That the place was necessary became clear when another commemoration had to take place for Orlando. This time it was 17-year-old Rotterdammer Orlando Boldewijn who died in February 2018 after an appointment via a dating app. Especially the young generation of Rotterdam LGBTIQ + wanted to come together in a place that gave comfort. It gave new impetus to a monument. For example, a location was chosen: Willemsplein at the foot of the Erasmus Bridge. A permanent monument will be delayed because the square will be renovated first. A place has recently been marked on the square in the vicinity of the Erasmus Bridge.

Marking of the monument 

Plans for a future redevelopment and possible greening of Willemsplein are not yet concrete. It is therefore too early at this location for a definitive object as a monument. Still, the spot with this artwork is already marked. So that the LGBTQI + community in Rotterdam can claim the square, meet and organize meetings to commemorate, celebrate and put on the agenda. "Gert-Jan Verboom: I have always seen art and culture in the history of the LGBTQI + movement as a means that was used for this. In the present time, in which it seems that the community has fallen apart and within and outside the community prejudice and violence against LGBTQIs seems to be increasing, a place can be the glue that brings us back together ".


2020 04 REWIND Superuse MrJune Rotterdam DENISGUZZO 8097
Artist David Louf aka Mr. June, made the design in collaboration with Rotterdammers from the LGBTIQ + community and with the creator of ReWind, architect Césare Peeren.
The marking as a seating object gives a great opportunity to anyone who needs to sit there, find support, commemorate and celebrate. Gert-Jan: "I hope that Rotterdam organizations that are committed to the community will also claim the square, so that we can come together to commemorate, celebrate and put it on the agenda."


The marking of the seating object on Willemsplein was commissioned by the municipality of Rotterdam to Césare Peeren of Superuse Studios in collaboration with artist Mr. June. The Visual Arts & Public Space (BKOR) program is working with stakeholders and members of the citizens' initiative: Gert-Jan Verboom, Talitha Nöllen, Claus Verbrugge and Eyasu Hindrik Balcha to realize a monument to sexual and gender diversity.

Images: Denis Guzzo, @Denisguzzo commissioned by CBK Rotterdam. Pulse Orlando: Pieter Ruijsch van Dugteren


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Gert-Jan Verboom made his debut at the beginning of this year with the columns "Ruud de Wild, the HIV stigma through your speakers" and "Stand out or make small, LGBTI-s at school". He is now also an editor / volunteer at GayRotterdam. This is his first editorial for GayRotterdam. Both the columns and his articles are about topics that touch him personally.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22 July 2020 13:23