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The decline of local COC associations

by Marthijn Uittenbogaard


The most famous gay (or LHBTQI et cetera) organization in The Netherlands is the COC. This federation consists of twenty local COC organizations. A gay person can visit a local COC for activities. It's a meeting place for gay people. But because of the internet, gay people don't need this function as much as they did before. The last years show a decline of local COC's around the country. In 2003 I compared the list of organizations in the COC magazine COC Update with an older list online.

In 2003 COC had 27 local departments and 24 associations. (For example: Purmerend was part of COC Amsterdam.) Before, the older list online, they had two association (or locations) more: COC Noord en Midden Limburg and COC Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

This was the (already declined) list in COC Update from June 2003:

Alkmaar
Amsterdam
Arnhem (COC Midden-Gelderland)
Bergen op Zoom
Breda
Den Bosch (COC 's-Hertogenbosch)
Den Haag (COC Haaglanden)
Den Helder (COC Kop van Noord-Holland)
Deventer (COC IJsselstreek)
Eindhoven
Enschede (COC Twente/Achterhoek)
Gouda
Groningen (COC Groningen & Drenthe)
Haarlem (COC Kennermerland)
Hilversum (COC Midden-Nederland)
Leeuwarden (COC Friesland)
Leiden
Maastricht (COC Zuid-Limburg)
Middelburg (COC Midden-Zeeland)
Nijmegen
Oss (COC Brabant Noord-Oost)
Purmerend (COC Amsterdam)
Rotterdam
Tilburg
Utrecht (COC Midden-Nederland)
Zoetermeer (COC Haaglanden)
Zwolle

Today, COC has 20 associations and 21 locations. Breda and Tilburg are one, but on their website I still see a location in both cities.

Today's list (as on their website coc.nl):

Amsterdam
Deventer e.o.
Eindhoven en regio
Friesland (Leeuwarden)
Groningen & Drenthe
Haaglanden (Den Haag)
Kennemerland (Haarlem)
Leiden
Limburg (Maastricht)
Midden-Gelderland (Arnhem)
Midden-Nederland (Utrecht)
Nijmegen
Noord-Holland Noord (Alkmaar)
Noordoost Brabant (Oss)
Rotterdam
Tilburg Breda e.o. (Tilburg & Breda)
Twente/Achterhoek (Enschede)
West-Brabant-West & Tholen (Bergen op Zoom)
Zeeland (Terneuzen)
Zwolle

I'm not sure if COC has a decline in membership but I know the local organizations are having a hard time and one after another can't afford to bring up the money to rent an apartment. In that case they officially merge two organizations (and locations) into one. The smaller one just disappears.

The Dutch organization for sexual reform, NVSH, saw almost all their local organizations disappear and also almost all of their members. COC used to be open about how many members it had. The last ten years it's hard to find a number anywhere on the internet. In an article from 2004 [1] it reads that in 2001 COC had 24 local organizations. All these organizations together had 8.000 members at that time. On the Dutch Wikipedia it says that COC still had approximately 8.000 members in 2012. But the Dutch Wikipedia always lacks references. In the 1990's COC had a record of 10.000 members [2]. I can mail COC and ask how many members they have right now, but I dislike the organization. COC has become a hetero-normative organization. In my view they are not gay anymore. I wonder what will happen to the COC in the near future.

notes
[1] 'COC staat nu voor Crisis Op Crisis', www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/-coc-staat-nu-voor-crisis-op-crisis~a723199/, Volkskrant, 17 June 2004
[2] Oud-COC-voorzitter Cees van Wijk overleden, www.coc.nl/algemeen/oud-coc-voorzitter-cees-van-wijk-overleden, coc.nl, 2012


3 August 2017