The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is a work of art in the shape of a dress, with the aim of encouraging debate and awareness about inclusion and equal rights throughout the planet. It is a monumental dress with a diameter of over 16 mts. (52 ft.) comprised of the 68* flags of countries where being LGBTIQ+ is punishable by law, including eight countries in which homosexual acts can result in the death penalty. The bodice of the dress is made from the Amsterdam city flag.
How it started
To raise awareness around the issue of illegal homosexuality, the flags of countries where same sex acts were punishable by law were carried in the opening Pride Walk parade of Euro Pride 2016. They were then presented to the four initiators of the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress Foundation – Mattijs van Bergen, Arnout van Krimpen, Jochem Kaan and Oeri van Woezik -who in cooperation with volunteers of COC Amsterdam, developed a concept that came to life as the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress.
What does the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress stand for?
The use of international flags, rainbow flags and the Amsterdam city flag underlines the importance of Amsterdam remaining open to LGBTIQ+ refugees and migrants who have been persecuted in their country because of who they are or whom they love. On a national, continental and global level, for centuries Amsterdam has been an LGBTIQ+ safe haven, but this status must be cultivated and safeguarded for future generations, ensuring the city maintains this status. As the dress travels around the world we hope to extend this notion to other cities and communities, advocating for worldwide and multi-layered inclusivity and tolerance.
* List of countries as comprised by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
An up-to-date list of all flags currently incorporated in the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress*
Image: Valentijn de Hingh presents the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress in the Gallery of Honour at the Rijkmuseum, in front of Rembrandt’s iconic Night Watch. Image by Pieter Henket Studio.
Image: Glo Taylor presents the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress in San Francisco City Hall on Harvey Milk Day 2017. Image by Ashlynn Danielsen