I heard today of the death of one of my oldest friends. Henri Methorst was 98. I and my partner first met him in the early 1960s when we frequently visited
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When we first visited Amsterdam we naturally paid an early call on the COC, where we received a warm welcome from Bob, Benno, and Henri who were all extremely interested in and supportive of our work in England. They had proceeded, wisely and correctly, on the principle that gay freedom was a human rights issue, and that if society was ridding itself of Nazi repression, homosexuals should claim a share of the action. Between the end of the war in 1945 and the early 1960s they had achieved a remarkable degree of success. The COC had clubhouses in several Dutch towns, and had achieved a measure or royal patronage: Queen Juliana’s portrait hung prominently in the COC Amsterdam clubhouse, a spacious place with an excellent bar and restaurant and – amazingly to British eyes – a dance floor where male couples partnered each other.
Because of his professional life, Henri Methorst was especially interested in the international aspects, and held office in the international gay organisation established under the COC’s auspices. Henri was a top-level international conference interpreter – a brilliant linguist speaking several languages who frequently flew around the world providing simultaneous translation services to governmental and other important events. He ran his own consultancy in partnership with his wife, who remained a close friend and colleague after he ‘came out’ as gay and began leading a separate personal life.
When we met Henri he was in his early ‘50s: affable, alert, interested in a wide range of topics, and with a well-stored and penetrating mind. Conversation with him kept one on one’s toes. He was also very kind. Coming from a well-to-do family, he had an extremely pleasant apartment in a nineteenth-century house near
It is more than twenty years since I last saw Henri, but he had the old-fashioned concept of friendship as a permanent link that was more than just a matter of “out of sight out of mind”, and we continued corresponding once or twice a year until his death. In his later years he settled happily into a sheltered home for retired artists near to