Dear Neighbors to the North, Anyone who has ever visited Brussels and stepped out near the Kolenmarkt, where most of the gay bars are, may have seen the beautiful mural by the Cologne gay comics artist Ralf König.
He painted a number of stereotypical GLBTIQ characters in his own style. The mural / fresco has been around since 2015. At the request of Rainbow House Brussels, the umbrella organization with most active GLBTIQ organizations in Brussels, he accepted that assignment. It is indeed a great mural.
However, in 2018 there were some protests against it. For some, the cartoon is transphobic and even racist. Several times it was besmirched and restored again. However, just before the Brussels Gay Pride in May 2019, the same criticism of the mural was prominently featured in the news again. Some people from the Rainbow House themselves openly campaigned for the removal of the mural.
The criticism did not come from an unexpected corner. Within the Rainbow House Brussels, the activist group Rainbow Nation Brussels is also active under the leadership of Rachael Moore. Moore is an GLBTIQ activist who has merits to her name, but is not as innocent as she seems. Because of her dark skin color, she feels personally attacked by the painting of König. Admittedly, König likes to expand on a number of stereotypical characteristics. But that is just one of the characteristics of a good comics artist.
So, Moore and some of her acolytes felt it was necessary to make the whole discussion current again and newsworthy just before the Gay Pride. She had secretly hoped for the support of the Brussels (and Belgian) GLBTIQ community, but she seriously miscalculated that support.
Fortunately, a counter-campaign was started on social media. The comics maker himself felt compelled to give an explanation through Facebook of why he had painted certain types and why he was not guilty of transphobia and / or racism. When the storm subsided, it was decided to add a short word of explanation to the mural and how it should be interpreted.
Ralf König should not have to apologize, and for the following reasons. Firstly, the mural dates back to 2015 and was ordered and inaugurated by the client, the Brussels Rainbow House. Everybody saw it being painted and no one objected to it. The criticism that now came from the same Rainbow House was fuelled by Rachael Moore. More and more testimonies about Rachael Moore surfaced around the time of the controversy.
Quite a few people who had dealings with her in the past did not have very good memories of their contact with her. According to some, she has a visceral aversion to Caucasian gays and believes that anyone with a white complexion feels “superior” and is by definition a racist. The more I spoke to people about it, the greater her hatred seemed of people with a white complexion. And certainly, her hatred of Flemish white gays, who, according to her, all vote for the Flemish nationalist party N-VA.
Rachael Moore has been much quieter and has faded into the background since the controversy. I recently heard that her hatred is still very much alive. More and more GLBTIQ people are appealing to withdraw the subsidy of the Brussels Rainbow House. “Tax money is not there to keep the extreme left organizations alive,” it sounds. “If a cartoon is no longer allowed, then no more money.” The Brussels Rainbow House itself was also under attack.
Just before the Brussels Gay Pride, a proposal was put to the vote at the General Assembly of the association to ban the N-VA from participating in the parade through the streets of Brussels. The proposal was not voted on, because for some reason the vote could not be validated. Yet some members of the association felt the need to appeal to the N-VA in a press release not to participate in the Brussels Gay Pride. That too met with a lot of criticism, followed by the appeal to reduce the subsidies.
The latter will unfortunately not happen. The new Brussels government is primarily a left-wing government and they will therefore continue to sponsor the “extreme” left.