“Our programme is open to everyone studying at EUR – and anyone else who is interested,” says Fabian. You don’t have to be registered at EUR, in other words, or even be affiliated in some way. “Heterosexuals who’d like to know more about our community or get a taste of our culture are welcome too, for example.”

Awareness

Fabian is all in favour of interaction and integration. “I believe that as members of the LGBT+ community, we should participate as intensively as possible in society. This will allow us to work towards the further normalisation of LGBT+ life, among other things.” Still, he’s aware that it is nice to be able to fall back on you own community too, occasionally. “Our network also includes young people from backgrounds that don’t accept their sexual identity,” says the Financial Economics master student. “They come from a religious family or a country where LGBT+ lifestyles are illegal.” These students had to live without opportunities to express themselves. “So there’s a definite need for a smaller group of trusted peers where you can be vulnerable and discuss intimate subjects.”

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According to Fabian, the acceptance of the LGBT+ community in the Netherlands still leaves a lot to be desired. “For example, violence against transgender remains a serious issue.” That’s why events that are specifically organised for people with a different sexual orientation or identity like Rotterdam Pride are still as important as ever. “We aren’t there yet in terms of awareness.”

Fabian has had his own experiences with discrimination and insults: “I was called a ‘dirty gay’ once while walking along Coolsingel, for instance.” And he’s even dealt with these issues on campus. “Last year, I had an altercation while I was dancing at the HeartBeat Festival, because someone thought guys shouldn’t dance that way. So you can see we still run into prejudice and stereotypes in our society.”

Pub crawl and job fair

On Thursday, the network will be organising a pub crawl that takes the participants to several LGBT+-friendly establishments in Rotterdam and shows new students a different side of Rotterdam’s nightlife. “During freshers’ week, the students visited a variety of regular venues. This time, we’ll be showing them where they don’t have to worry about expressing themselves as LGBT+ individuals,” explains Fabian. “This is particularly important for international students and people who have recently moved to Rotterdam.”

The following day, Erasmus Pride will be teaming up with StudentPride, the national network for LGBT+ students, to organise a conference that includes a job fair and workshops. “Of course, you can always attend a regular job fair,” says Fabian. “But the companies participating in our event are all openly supportive of the LGBT+ community.”

Erasmus Pride have listed the entire programme for the week on their Facebook page. “On Saturday, we will be joining in the Pride Walk,” concludes Fabian. “And once again: everyone is welcome. Feel free to join us – or wave when we pass by!”