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On the misfortunes of yesterday


It’s Gay Pride today. Yesterday, as N and I were on our way to the cinema, somebody yelled “DYKES!” at us.

I dislike such antics as much as the next gay. I don’t like the words “dyke” and “fag” and the stigma surrounding homosexuality. Since we’re alive in the modern world of 2009, I always fervently hope that people know better by now.

I’m lucky enough to live in an environment with friends and family who support me. My choice to walk hand in hand with N, and not Nicholas. I rarely encounter homophobia.

But then again, I don’t look like a lesbian. It’s a personal choice: I’m also Dutch, half African, an inhabitant of Eindhoven, married to reading, writing, and books, and in love with Anohni1 from that band. If I were to express all of those identities, I might as well start wishing I turn into a float tomorrow.

What I’m annoyed with is the fact that yesterday, I saw 300 different stereotyped people pass me in the street, and I somehow managed to keep my mouth shut to all of them. Because I do care about other people’s feelings. Because we live IN THE NETHERLANDS, damnit.

But you know, I think about things, and I know the insecure, angry, Moroccan teenager is not to blame. After all, I’m sure he’s had a few insults hurled at him, and he was just reciprocating this civil friendliness. This experience reminds me I don’t live in a country that fully accepts the life I live. Whichever way you look at it, emancipation in the gay scene isn’t as omnipresent as we think it is.

Because today is the Day of Days, and some people are on their tenth sangria dancing on a boat in thong underwear, I think it’s only fitting to think about what a multicultural and diverse country such as the Netherlands is really doing.

Are gay people more emancipated than the San Francisco of the 70s? Or do the near-naked protests, gay gyms, gay saunas, gay stores, gay parties, gay travel agencies find ways to work against us? Is the gap between straight people and gay people bigger than we care to admit? Are we still asking whether “we” fit into “your” world and vice versa, or is there finally space to start talking about “our” world?

If “we” want to fit into “your” world β€” which I think we’ve already been doing for decades, just to the inattentiveness of some β€” is it smart of gay people to seclude ourselves to spaces designed for people like us? When one lesbian says “hey dyke” to another, it’s a term of endearment. But if a straight girl or, even better, a Moroccan boy, says the term casually near a gay person, we call it discrimination.

I’m for emancipation, and against exception.

That’s why I’m sitting here writing this instead of celebrating Gay Pride.

What do you think? I know it’s a difficult subject, but please keep it civil in the comments. Constructive criticism, please.

  1. I’m aware that Anohni went by a different name when this post was written, but I avoid deadnaming when I can. ↩︎