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Letter from Brussels: Subtle Homophobia

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 19 augustus 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Neighbors to the North, In the Dutch media it was reported that - although they use different wording as to not mention their true motives - municipalities and governments do their utmost to “eradicate” gay meeting places. A kind of hidden agenda, so to speak, under the guise of all sorts of fallacies while not actually saying that the elimination of such meeting places is in fact the real reason, and not the consequence of a certain policy.

But take comfort in the fact that in Belgium, they have been actively doing this much longer than in the Netherlands. Also, with all sorts of excuses for not having to say that they are not really that keen on gays, who have visited cruising places throughout history, as there was no other place to “get off.” Their latest reasons are rather remarkable. The reasons the authorities are now using to trim or get rid of entire greens is that they are ideal hiding places for transmigrants who are trying to break into cargo spaces of trucks during the night in hope of reaching the United Kingdom.

Apparently, we have these transmigrants to thank for the dismantlement of cruising areas, but also the clearing of greens, woods and forest along the motor way. People who dare to denounce these practices are accused of knowing nothing about it, followed by a press release stating “that the trees at car parks and rest areas along the motorways are sick and need to be cut down for their own good.”

While gay activists keep praising the rights it has fought so hard for, latent homophobia is on the rise. Or should I say: subtle homophobia. Now that the homophobes have to be more careful in a more seemingly tolerant landscape, they seek out more “subtle” forms of homophobia in order to undermine the gay community. The cutting down of trees and bushes around gay meeting places is a good example of this.

However, it goes much further. In many European cities, for instance, new gay bars may no longer have a darkroom. Again, the explanation for this is not very credible: “many wallets are stolen in darkrooms.” Or a cruising bar is closed by the health inspectorate because traces of chlamydia were found on the walls of a darkroom. In Playa del Inglès, the Mecca of the GLBTIQ+ community on Gran Canarias, the city council wants to impose a ban on wearing chaps with a visible butt. They also want to ban nudity from the Yumbo as much as possible.

Furthermore, it is no secret that the city council would prefer to get rid of Playa del Inglès as a gay destination. The reason? Because of the continuing unrest and political instability in North African holiday destinations, European tourists flock to the Canary Islands for their holidays.

For some time now, this has been reflected in rising flight and hotel prices. Of course, hotel owners and real estate agencies are very happy with this. However, a possible disruptive factor for their financial situation is the massive presence of gays on this “island of debauchery.” So they turn to politicians who subtly “bully” the gays off the island. They are also not impervious to money, naturally.

I wonder whether I am the only one noticing this trend? We are allowed to get married, but in the meantime our lives are being ruined in different ways, such as through night-life limitations. Not to mention subtle forms of discrimination in the workplace, where often fallacies are cited to deny someone a promotion. There are so many other examples of this. All the more reason to be on the alert, as the danger lies in subtle things. In all aspects of our lives, in all areas.

Yours sincerely,

De Ket




In the New Issue of Gay News, 336, August/ Pride 2019

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