Born and raised on a farm where homosexuality was highly controversial, Peter never imagined the accomplishments and discoveries that would await for him once he arrived in Amsterdam.
Can you talk to us about your childhood?
I was born a couple of years ago in the south of Holland on a farm. My parents were pretty strict because they are very Catholic, old-fashioned, and live the typical farm life. I always worked a lot on the farm, since I was a young boy. We weren’t allowed to go out, have a girlfriend or a lovelife, and of course, I had to be ‘straight’ on the farm. My parents were expecting me to take over the farm, and that was something I knew I never wanted. After I told them I didn’t want to, they were very disappointed, but they are very sweet people. They are narrow-minded because they’ve never been too far away from their farm, they haven’t seen much of the world out there. I think in the end that parents think they do the right thing for their children, even if it isn’t. My father would hint that any job other than that on a farm was useless to society.
I always worked as a kid on the farm - I would milk cows, drive trucks, clean up after the animals, and so on. I did so until I was 19 and really wanted to move out and start my life, even though my parents didn’t want me to. It took a sad event in our family for my mother to finally let me go and agree to me moving out. Then I moved to the city, and everything changed for me from there. I finally felt free.
What happened once you moved to the city?
When I moved to the city, a whole new life started for me. For the first time I figured out that I had feelings for boys, which was all really weird to me because I had never even met gay people. Back on the farm, my parents had never met gay people, my Dad would even yell after seeing gay stereotypes on TV. So coming out to them was a challenge, and like many gay people I had to tell them I was bisexual first before they could take the news. The way the media portrayed gay people didn’t help much either, since I never felt like I could relate to them. For my parents, that was also scary. They had no one to relate to. Consequently, for me it made it harder to come out, because I always thought being gay was a bad thing. Unfortunately, I had a double life for a while. Lying to everyone makes you feel horrible, so after a while I decided to tell friends, and everyone was so sweet, respectful and understanding.
You have worked as a DJ, organized massive events for LGBT people and so much more since arriving in Amsterdam. Tell us about that.
When I moved to Amsterdam in 2006, I started to organise events, and got to co-found a huge gay festival called the Milkshake festival. When we started, it had already sold out to 12,000 people. I also worked in clubs, I was a DJ, and also worked for Pride.
In 2016 I started to work for Pride and organise their main events - it was EuroPride so that year it was much bigger. At Pride, you can reach so many people, and share the one message that is to be able to love the one you want to love, and be whoever you want to be. It’s a beautiful message and it’s very close to myself and LGBT+ people in general. For me the most important reason to start working for Pride was sharing that message of hope and love.
So finally now I can say that I’m getting where I want to be, because it’s very important to do whatever makes you happy. So many people are still living a double life, or are even gay but married to women, with kids. Unfortunately we’re still no there, and people still get gay bashed in Amsterdam, especially in the last few years.
Did you ever believe the farm boy that you were would become the openly gay man he is today?
As a kid I never would have thought that I’d be in Amsterdam, be an openly gay man , organise big events, be a DJ. I really never did - because all I saw was cows! It’s a huge contrast if I see my younger self, and the person I became. I never thought I would do all this, and in the end I am happy with all of it, and that’s the most important thing.
Now I’m an out and proud gay man. I finally appreciate the things I do for work, and the opportunities I have had all these years. I can finally be proud of myself. Being proud is the most beautiful thing you can give yourself. It starts with loving yourself before you can love somebody else and give good energy. So it’s been quite the journey and every single bit was worth it.