The Happiness Troupe

Finding our people - Rainbow Market 2018

Finding our people - Rainbow Market 2018

Karen's dad parks the car in one of the wealthiest streets of Amsterdam. We're surrounded by tall houses with stairs leading up to shiny front doors. Even though this isn't our first rodeo, we're anxious. A little tense, even! After all, we're at a market that was brought to life for our target audience. Our friendly freaks, our rainbow crowd, our happy troupe of gays, queers and everyone in between. For the very first time, we will find out if this business we've created is actually delivering something our people need and want.

So we pile our things onto two trolleys and we push them into the Vondelpark, looking for our place in-between our people. We're wondering if maybe we overdid it, and we brought too many flyers with us. Little did we know that midway through this hot, successful day we'd have to call Karen's dad to bring more supplies. The morning however is still cool, there's even a drizzle while we set up our stand.

The Rainbow Market is part of Pride Park, where Pride Amsterdam is opened every year. It's where ten thousand activists finish their Pride Walk and start celebrating Pride. The Rainbow Market is a collection of thirty LGBTQ initiatives, clubs and foundations, but very few have a commercial approach. We had no clue what ten thousand people would be like. We had no clue what it meant to be the only one at Rainbow Market focused on selling LGBTQ art. Now we do! It meant that as soon as the Pride Walk participants started streaming into Vondelpark we were completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the collective kindness and by quirky personas. Overwhelmed by seeing so many families and couples like us, and so very unlike us. People kissing people, fearless and free. The sun breaks through the clouds, and all is love.

And in the middle of this lovely chaos we get to talk to all those shiny happy people! While Karen is happy to stay behind our stall, I can't help but get in front. My sibling Jen comes by, right on time to help the three rows of people that want to look at and buy our art. While I try to talk to everyone and explain our mission over and over, Karen and Jen pack and wrap and take money and hand back change and smile. People are excited by what we do, so much more so than they are at any other fair. I feel lightheaded from all the compliments, and I almost tear up when one of my cards is sold for the very first time, to a woman about my mother's age. Her daughter is getting married and this is the perfect thing to celebrate those two lucky brides.

We see so many young teens so totally out the closet and it melts us. They love our pin, but often have to settle for a postcard. Oh, those teenage days, often broke but without a care in the world. A rainbow flag around their bony shoulders, their arms locked, giggling and blushing while they talk to us. Friends stop by to see us, but we have to cut conversations short, there are always people waiting. We're finally in exactly the right place at the right time.

All four of our parents visiting later that afternoon is the icing on the cake. I've never seen my dad prouder. He's watching me talk to people, looking at his own past self as a vendor and at his father before him. He gives me a couple of tips, insists on buying something so he can see our mobile pin device in action. Karens parents bring more flyers and stickers, and make sure we have everything we need. Then they find a sunny bench, and stay until we have to pack up, watching from a distance.

We don't have time to sit down for even a second, and when the day ends our legs are heavy but our hearts so full. We pack what's left of our inventory and stack everything back onto the trolleys. Walking back to the car I realise we've never been more in sync than today, together and within this massive crowd of people.

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