amsterdam museum


For Coming Out Day 2021, COC’s Shakespeare Club is proud to present an intervention at the Amsterdam Museum from October 11–17, 2021 in the form of a pop-up photo-exhibit titled IN/VISIBLE.

Spread throughout the Amsterdam Museum’s permanent exhibition Amsterdam DNA, 14 young LGBTIQ+ individuals are literally “coming out” in the museum.

On October 11, since 1988, the international LGBTIQ+ community has celebrated National Coming Out Day, based on the belief that invisibility allows violence against members of the LGBTIQ+ community to thrive, whereas visibility is liberating. Yet, in 77 countries, being visible can result in being sent to jail, stoned, imprisoned, or sentenced to death, so invisibility is a way to stay alive. And for those who choose to be visible, who has the privilege to be seen?

While coming out as gay or bisexual is seen as important and part of a person’s identity in many Western countries, in some cultures sexuality is not about being, but rather about acting. It is not who you are, but what you do! For people who are transgender, coming out can have different meanings in different stages of life. While it is almost impossible not to come out for those who choose to transition, coming out as trans after transition is a completely different matter. Some members of the LGBTIQ+ community also argue that heterosexual and cisgender people are not expected to come out, so why should they?

When walking through the exhibition, ask yourself: Is being visible liberating? In this exhibition, 14 members of the international LGBTIQ+ community who live in the Netherlands share their life experiences, hopes, and dreams. Half of the people portrayed are up-and-coming activists who fight for their own visibility and that of their communities. In the past year, they participated in the Respect2Love leadership program. The other half are not (yet) open about their sexuality and/or gender identity. They meet regularly at COC Amsterdam’s Wereldcafé to discuss topics relevant to their personal empowerment. Each portrait encourages us to reflect on the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons (and especially people of color) in the Netherlands and to consider our own beliefs when it comes to LGBTIQ+ liberation!

Tieneke Sumter
Project Manager, COC Nederland