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Letter from Brussels: In the Media

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 18 December 2019

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
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Dear Neighbors to the North, With the end of 2019 nearing, it is time again, as is tradition, for a Flemish media overview of quotes from well-known and less well-known Flemish people on our fascinating GLBTQI community.

Xavier Taveirne“In the military, people have been wondering for years whether homosexuals are capable of functioning at the front.” (Belgian author and columnist Herman Brusselmans in his column on

“When I started working in the Netherlands and kissed a man, I knew it was the kiss they write those sugary-sweet songs about. This was a true revelation, because, even though I had already kissed women, I had always been disappointment.” (Radio presenter and news anchor Xavier Taveirne, in “Het Laatste Nieuws,” about his first gay experience.)

“I have been teaching mainly Muslim children for decades and I notice that the Koran lessons are becoming more and more intensive. Then I hear students say that gays will burn in hell.” (Testimony from a Genk teacher, in “Het Laatste Nieuws.”)

“While I was watching the movie ‘Titanic,’ I suddenly thought that Leonardo Di Caprio was quite attractive. I immediately wondered whether I was gay and had played my girlfriend for a fool. I ended the relationship, because I did not want to become a frustrated gay man who would possibly harm his girlfriend. I even came out to my family, while I am not gay at all.” (Brave testimony from Michel Verheul, who has been struggling with compulsive thoughts all of his life, in the scientific “EOS Magazine.”)

Bart Kaëll “Luc and I should have made it public much earlier.” (Flemish folk singer Bart Kaëll about his relationship with TV presenter Luc Appermont, a relationship they kept secret for a long time,

“I would like to have a one-night stand with a woman.” (Former radio presenter Julie Van den Steen, in “Flowjob,” a new video series from Studio Brussel on sexuality.)

Wim Peumans
“ZIZo and GLBT interest group Çavaria had a study conducted of the N-VA’s standpoints, and they have come out more conservative than they wanted to seem. This is mainly due to ‘gay nationalism’ - using the sore points of the GLBT community to target other minorities.” (Wim Peumans, gay son of former Flemish parliament chairman Jan Peumans of N-VA, in a double interview with his father in “De Morgen.”)

Piet Hoebeke“Biologically, I’m a man, my gender is male. I also play a male gender role, but I’m gay. All these possible variations in gender, gender role and sexual preference lead to a rich palette of people, all of whom have the right to exist. Yet there are things that worry me. That in some countries they are starting to tamper with gay rights or abortion rights, for instance. Or when I hear politicians like Dries Van Langenhove and Thierry Baudet say that masturbation is bad. Such nonsense! Masturbation is completely natural and is part of an individual’s sexual development. Dogmas that were once imposed by the church are now being re-introduced by young, brushed-up alpha men with a white breast-pocket handkerchief.” (Piet Hoebeke, Professor of urology and dean of the Ghent faculty of medicine, in “Knack.”)

“Now that I am free, the road to a lesbian relationship only seems more difficult. Something is stopping me, and I don’t know what.” (Interview with a sixty-three-year-old woman who has recently divorced her husband and is looking for her lesbian love. That, however, is not going as smoothly as expected, in “Het Laatste Nieuws.”)

“How can you be a lesbian as a Turkish person?” (This reproach was hurled at a young Turkish woman by two Turkish men in the parking lot of a supermarket. She then received a blow from one of the men, who is now at trial for injuring the woman, in “Het Laatste Nieuws.”)

Sam Bettens
“I felt that I already put a fairly large burden on the children because we were lesbians. It already comes with a big stigma. It’s no coincidence that my story only started when the children were at university. There was room for it now.” (Singer Sam Bettens, during an interview about his transition to a trans man, on radio station JOE.)

Julian Boom and Fleur Pierets“I’m not becoming a professional widow. I’m not going to give lectures about mourning, but about positive activism. I’m still finding out who I am without her. I have become tougher and more cynical and I don’t like that. I wish I had that free and uninhibited feeling of the past: ‘Great, a new day!’ Will I have so much pain all my life?” (Fleur Pierets’ candid testimony pertaining to the presentation of her book about her late wife Julian Boom. The couple, both artists, started a special project in 2017: they would symbolically get married in more than twenty countries, in all the places where same-sex marriage was possible at that time. But Julian died very quickly after a short sickbed with cancer, via VRT Nieuws.)

Yours sincerely,

De Ket



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