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Laurens Zevenbergen.

Laurens wants to break the taboo: “How long is your penis and what do you do with it, they ask”.

He hasn’t had all of the surgeries that make his body completely throbbing. “But I think it’s okay for now”, says Laurens Zevenbergen (24) from Arnhem, whose birth announcement stated that he was a girl.
“I hope it makes people aware that every body is a beautiful body, has the right to be loved.” Laurens Zevenbergen did not have to think long when asked if he wanted to be a model for the erotic photo exhibition that will be held this September. will be on display in the Sint Stevenskerk in Nijmegen. “I think it’s important to show that transgender bodies can also be considered beautiful”

Taboo
The organizing Pride Photo Nijmegen wants to break the taboo surrounding the physical identity and sexuality of transgender people with the exhibition Adult Alternative. Many people whose birth gender matches their gender identity still know little about the sexuality of transgender people. “The idea behind this exhibition is that the models themselves show what they think is erotic”, says project leader Wouter Christiaens. “With which we hope that visitors will go home with new insights, such as that with transgender people it is more than just a gender reassignment. But it’s not just about looks. ” The 24-year-old Zevenbergen, a student of occupational therapy and counselor of people suffering from dementia in a nursing home, has been officially a man since he was 18. “I then had the birth certificate changed.”

“Very confronting”
At the age of 17, he signed up for the medical trajectory that would make him physically change from female to male. “From childhood I knew I was different, but from 15, 16 years old I knew I was transgender. That was very confron-ting, I didn’t want to be it for a long time, postponed doing something with it for as long as possible. Until I really could not go through life with the wrong name and an inappropriate body.” After a few operations and some other treatments, you do not see that Laurens has spent most of his life with a girl’s body. At least not when he’s wearing his clothes. “Because I look like a man, everyone assumes I’ve had all the surgeries, which is not the case.”

Understanding
By participating in the erotic photo exhibition and exposing himself – “I don’t have all my clothes on” – he hopes to gain understanding for transgender people. “There are people who find it really difficult that my body is not right. I don’t blame them, I don’t find it easy either. But these kinds of bodies are fine too.” And by showing them, he hopes there will be a little more understanding. “And by being more open about it, I also hope that it all becomes less interesting.”

Example
With which he says in a decent way that he is a bit done with all the indecent questions that he gets arranged. “How long is your penis, do you actually have one and what do you do with it, people ask. I don’t think that’s normal, but people think that they can suddenly ask anything from a trans person.” Now Zevenbergen is always open about the subject – he told his story together with his twin sister last year – and makes an effort wherever possible to create more understanding for transgender people. And he hopes that the erotic exhibition will help other people who have to go through the same struggle as him. “I would have liked an example in the past, someone who would have done something like I do now: show myself in my vulnerability. I hope that a young trans man will see this and think, that’s fine.”

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König organ: dazzling after restoration!

For more than three months, the wonderful craftsmen of Wolters Ovink from Deventer worked with passion on the majestic König organ. On April 10, the finishing touches were made to the gilding of the König organ in the Stevenskerk and our city has – literally – a showpiece! We would like to thank all donors who contributed to this project. They will soon receive an invitation to a special meeting (entirely according to the required rules) to come and admire the result. Thanks in part to you, we were able to finance a large part of this project.

Pierre and I donated 20 gilded pieces; due to the Corona virus the church has no income from visitors, exhibitions, concerts, and rent for weddings and funerals. 

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The backyard and the very quiet Saint Stephan Church

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On duty as a volunteer in the St Stephan Church: a musical intermezzo bu the organ player Ton den den Hout, Emeritus Professor at the Radboud University, Nijmegen.

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The magic of the Finnish night

 

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Our local first division football club NEC presents itself this year in a very unusual place: the Saint Stephan Church:

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Back to normal:

After the period of training, marches and house-guest, life returns to the regular routine. My volonteer work at the Saint Stephan Church opened a new perspective on the word “ART”.

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As a volunteer I was on duty today, Sunday 01 July. From 01:00PM till 02:00PM there was an open rehearsal by a choir from Venlo (city in Limbourg, on river Meuse). Two recordings: an English carol and one of the Four Sacred Pieces by Giuseppe Verdi.

 

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Mega Subsidy Nimwegen Saint Stephan Church for new roof and new windows

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The Saint Stephan Church, the Nimwegen icon, receives a mega subsidy of €5.5/£4.8/CA$8.4 million for restoration. The money is intended for an almost completely new roof covering and replacement of the worn stained-glass windows. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is making the grant available from a new €34/£30/CA$52  million pool for large national monuments. The Saint Stephan Church gets the biggest bite from the 29 projects awarded. For example, the Eusebius Church in Arnheim gets ‘only’ €1/£0.9/CA$1.5 million.

s3C.E.O. Heleen Wijgers, who has lobbied firmly for the government subsidy as the foundation director, is very happy. ,,I knew we were in the race, but this is an enormous amount. It is a beautiful recognition for the significance of the building as cultural-historical heritage, but it may be more a recognition of the way we function as a multifunctional church in society.” Every year, in addition to oecumenical services, numerous manifestations, lectures and university events take place here. The church is supported by hundreds of volunteers, ‘friends of Stevenskerk’ and Steveniers (a ‘Stevenier’ adopts the church financially for 1 day per year, at a rate of €365/£321/CA$560 a year, for a period of at least 5 years; in theory the church could collect this way €133,225/£117.331/CA$204.345 per year, but there are still a lot of vacant days). The house of God attracts 135,000 visitors annually. For the attraction of tourists alone, support for the church is logical according to Wijgers. ,,For every euro, Nimwegen gets 1.40 euros back.”

Roof repair

The roof repair was one of the biggest wishes of the managing foundation. “A condition to be ready as far as possible in 2022 for the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the church,” said Wijgers. The roof, with impressive height differences, is covered over the full surface with aged slate or slate slabs. Wijgers: ,,If we do nothing now, then you know for sure that it will leak everywhere sooner or later.” In 2014 and 2015 a small part has already been replaced. Everywhere under the surface are wooden vaults. “In the event of a leak, these rots”, explains Wijgers why further intervention is necessary. About the stained-glass windows: “A lot of water has already been struck through the windows during storms.”

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Some point of concern: the money may only be used when the Saint Stephan Foundation collects 30 percent or more than €1.6/£1.4/CA$2.5 million. “A luxury problem,” says Treasurer Fred van Efferen. ,,With the help of the municipality and the province, who are well disposed towards us, and perhaps loans, I expect that we will get there. We can not leave this opportunity untouched.” According to Wijgers, a plan for the roof restoration is not yet available, because the additional financing still has to be arranged. According to her, the million-euro subsidy certainly does not end the need to raise money. ,,The Saint Stephan Church is a large church, where new restorations must always be done.”