“LISTEN, INSPIRE AND ACT”
Text: Paul Hofman
Foto: Remon van den Kommer
Video: Paradox Productions
Youth Ambassador Ronald Benita: ‘Listen, inspire and act’.
Ronald (19) was overwhelmed when he heard that he had been chosen as the winner of the Youth Pride Ambassador 2022 competition. He is eager to get started. The Rotterdam native is extremely happy to have become an ambassador. I had to let it sink in for a while because it was quite big news. Especially pride prevailed. At the same time I realised that I am really ready for this coming Pride period.
The idea of becoming a Youth Ambassador was born a few years ago, says young Ronald, who is studying at the Rotterdam Theatre School. Last year, I had serious doubts about whether I should apply. Unfortunately, I didn’t do it then, because I didn’t feel I was ready for it yet. A while ago I saw a plea on the instagram account of Youth Pride. I have to say that I had my doubts about signing up this year as well. In the end, I signed up by sending in a video. He has struggled with himself and his homosexuality. I hope that with my knowledge and experience I can now help others to make this struggle smaller. As an ambassador, he can make that difference.
The result was that, out of the many entries, he was chosen to carry the title this year. He will undoubtedly do so with verve. As an ambassador I find it very important that Pride is accessible for everyone who wants to attend. From up close I notice that it can be quite a threshold to go to Pride and participate. For example, if you are still in the closet or in doubt, it can be quite frightening.
Pride is about more
Ronald himself always hands out flyers on Purple Friday. This is the big action day of the GSA (Gender & Sexuality Alliance). Every year on this second Friday of December, many Dutch primary, secondary and higher education schools are painted in rainbow colours. Universities in our country also participate. In this way, the alliance promotes sexual and gender diversity as a standard. Not only are flyers distributed, but posters are also put up. The aim is to create visibility.
I think it would be good to hand out flyers and put up posters in schools during Pride. I would like to make it clear that Pride is not just a party. According to Ronald it is much more. Of course the annual Pride is a lot of fun, but there is also such an important meaning behind it. And that is what I would like to explain to young people, so that they know better what Pride is all about.
As an ambassador, I would also like to dedicate myself to queer people of colour. I used to look for myself. I couldn’t find that anywhere. That’s why I now want to be an example for the younger me and others. I want to see more black queer representation on social media, in newspapers and magazines and of course at the annual Pride.
As a Rotterdam native, Benita feels at home in Amsterdam, he says with a laugh. It feels good. I like Amsterdam very much and I like spending my time here. As a queer person, I have always felt safe here so far. Amsterdam is really a queer city. I am always excited when I go to Amsterdam. I want to get to know the city even better. He still remembers the first Pride he experienced. That was three years ago. On the day of the Pride I immediately came out of the closet. Proudly: ‘I took a picture of myself standing in front of a sign that said “Welcome to Pride Amsterdam”. I posted it immediately and then put my phone away. I got a lot of positive reactions.
Ronald muses: ‘A few years ago, I had no idea who I was. Now I do, although I am still growing. With my self-assurance, knowledge and love I want to pass this on to other queer people. If I had ever told my younger self of fifteen that I would be out of the closet at seventeen and later be a Pride ambassador, I would probably never have believed it.’ Ronald has made his former self proud.
Pride ambassador since 2022