Gé Joosten was one of the 3,000 volunteers of Gay Games Amsterdam 1998 for two years. ‘When the preparations were already going on, in 1997, I heard about the Gay Games. I am rather easy-going, so I went to see the office and I liked the atmosphere.’
Gé helped out in the press team and laughingly remembers that he put away a lot of press clippings in folders.
‘It was very good for my sense of solidarity. From the Roze Zaterdagen (Pink Saturdays) to this was an upward movement. A triumph. In the centre of Amsterdam you could see the Gay Games everywhere.
‘My family said, “Where are your sports achievements?” But it wasn’t about that at all! Whoever had done well: good for you, but it was about international friendship. Then they said: “Oh, you think that’s necessary?”‘
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It was about time
‘The atmosphere that week could have stayed like that forever as far as I’m concerned. Through the Gay Games I felt a little… satisfaction – yes I think that’s the word – for all the trouble I have been through. Now we are the boss! Fuck you all! Without meaning harm to anyone.
‘In the Kalverstraat (the main shopping street in Amsterdam), someone said to me: “Well, there are quite some gays in the city.” I replied, “Yes, it’s about time!” That was a remark I never dared to make in the years before.
‘What helped me most was that the Mayor was so positive. From the Opening Ceremony I remember the fashion designer, Jean-Paul Gautier.
‘In the Arena, I was sitting alone, six stories up, and at the moment suprême I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed my friend Frank because he would have enjoyed it so much. He would have been shouting or screaming or something like that. Then I again felt painfully that he was no longer here.’
until 1 August 2023, exactly 25 years after the start of the Gay Games Amsterdam 1998