15-year-old Devin is ‘different’, as mother Brenda Schaaper describes. “My child is non-binary. At first I had no idea what this meant, but Devin feels like a person, not necessarily male or female. I always knew my kid was gay, but I had to get used to all those LGBTQ terms. The non-binary is the reason I no longer call him my son, but consciously call him my child. He used to be called Yens, but he didn’t think this name suited him well and made it Devin. That took some getting used to for all of us, but now we think it’s a very good choice.”
The voyage of discovery led to the blog Mother enzo, a platform where parents and children who are going through the same quest can find and support each other.
Brenda and Devin at the campground.
Ⓒ Own picture
Camping for like-minded people
And now to its own campsite: De Paradijsvogel. “The name Bird of Paradise comes from the fact that I think all children are real birds of paradise. They give color to society”, explains Schaaper. “The idea for the campsite came about because as a mother of a non-binary child, I enjoy meeting other LGBT children and parents on holiday. And vice versa: for the teenagers/young people it is also nice to meet like-minded people. They gain confidence when they experience that they are good enough and not different at all. Parents can share their concerns with other parents who understand and see that there are more children like theirs. A place of recognition, therefore.”
The (paid) pop-up campsite in Lelystad will start for the time being with a long weekend, that of July 29, and a midweek, from 1 to 5 August, to then pop up for a number of weekends and midweeks during the school holidays. More weeks are planned for next year. There is a special field on the existing campsite, but other accommodations can also be booked. “A place where you can experiment with your gender identity and find like-minded people, a place where you can and may be yourself completely,” Schaaper describes.
source of inspiration
Activities aimed at the target group are organized at the pop-up campsite, such as a drag workshop, bingo bitch with drag queens, a make-up workshop where children/young people are taught how to become more masculine or feminine and learn to walk heels & catwalk. The latter is given by Devin himself. “Devin has medium length hair, painted nails and often wears heels. When he’s in heels, it’s like walking the catwalk.”
It is the start of a great adventure, that is how Schaaper describes the pop-up campsite. “Devin is my biggest source of inspiration and he taught me what it can bring you if you stay true to yourself. He refuses to adapt and is completely himself. Even if that means you have to learn to live with the fact that you can be bullied and that you have to protect yourself against a world that is sometimes quite ugly.”
More information and the entire program of camping De Paradijsvogel can be found at www.moederenzo.nl/camping.