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UvA Pride Walk 2019. Photo: Jesper van de Vooren

'I want to show support to all people facing criminalisation because of their LGBTQ+ identity.’

Published on 29-07-2022 12:54
An interview with student Radha Zievinger who will join UvA Pride in the Pride Walk on Saturday, 30 July and the higher education boat during the Canal Parade on Saturday, 6 August.
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Portrait of Radha Zievinger
Radha Zievinger

After all the COVID restrictions threw a major spanner in the works over the past two years, UvA Pride is finally able to once again kick loose during Pride Amsterdam 2022! From Pride Walk to Pride University to Canal Parade, the UvA will be taking part in Pride Amsterdam 2022, together with the VU Amsterdam, the AUAS and Inholland. 

In the run-up to the nine-day festival, dedicated to the celebration of the freedom to be able to be who you are and to love who you want to love, we will be getting acquainted with students and staff from the UvA who are involved in Pride Amsterdam this year. This time: Radha Zievinger, a student of Literary & Cultural Analysis at the Faculty of Humanities.

Why are you taking part in these two Pride events with the UvA? And how do you feel about the UvA actively taking part in Pride Amsterdam again this year?

'As someone from the Caribbean, I’d never expected my study provider to give me the opportunity to take part in a festival that celebrates the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. For me, taking part in the Pride Walk is all about protesting against the non-acceptance of this diversity. So, I’ll be showing my support for LGBTQ+ people throughout the world facing criminalisation and persecution because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Then, when I’m on the boat in the Canal Parade, I want to focus on sharing a sense of joy with everyone else involved - joy about what has already been achieved in 2022: for the LGBTQ+ community in general, but also for me personally. I would appreciate it if the UvA, outside Pride Amsterdam, would give more attention to the visibility of the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people within the organisation. Although things are happening, there’s a lack of communication about it, both internally and externally. That’s a shame for everything and everyone.'

How are you involved in the LGBTQ+ community?

'In the past, I would have said: I’m involved as a lesbian woman. Today, I feel more comfortable saying that I’m involved in the community because of my identity as a non-binary person. Why this label? Because it enables me to minimise the need to tick fixed boxes. Gender fluidity makes me feel most comfortable now. Therefore, I embraced the personal pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ now as well, instead of ‘she’ and ‘her’. Gender identity is what primarily keeps me busy these days, more than gender or sexual orientation. However, I am aware of the fact that personal pronouns are just another example of the many linguistic expressions that we’ve agreed upon and have constructed with each other. So, I'm not too focussed on them. Of course language can be a powerful tool, but in the end it still is and remains just language: a system consisting of some symbols, and nothing more than that.'

What does Pride mean for you? How do you yourself feel about Pride?

'When I think of Pride, firstly I think of all its events that take place over a nine-day period; of the festival as a whole. With - as the term ‘festival’ already gives away - celebration as starting point. For me this celebration is all about love and acceptance. About having the freedom to publicly come out for who you are and for what you feel. I have been positively overwhelmed by the tolerance Amsterdam shows towards LGBTQ+ people. Taking part in Pride in Barbados [state of the islands of the Caribbean] unfortunately still has to count as an act of resistance against discriminatory legislation and regulations, which makes it risky and rebellious.

For me, Pride is also a moment when I take the time to reflect on myself and my development as an individual within the LGBTQ+ community. Which in the past made me decide to put my own happiness above external expectations and to, also, act in line with that decision. I can’t make other people happy if I’m not happy with myself. If the people around me are happy with me being the LGBTQ+ individual that I am, then I’ve managed in gathering the right persons around me. My happiness is their happiness, and vice versa.'

With its theme of ‘My Gender, My Pride’, this year’s edition of Pride Amsterdam is the first to focus on gender identity rather than sexual orientation or diversity. To ask you this question might seem quite superfluous, but whatever: how do you feel about that?

'I must admit that initially I didn’t even know that Pride Amsterdam does have a specific theme every year. That’s bad, isn’t it? But Pride Amsterdam is so well-known and gets so much publicity on an international level that this year's message to celebrate your gender identity is to be spread throughout the world. How great is that?'