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Gay Tolerance on it's Return, did the Pendulum Swing too Far?

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 16 January 2020

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Neighbors to the North, Welcome to 2020! This column is too short for the obligatory best wishes you have undoubtedly already received in abundance. I would like to focus on the challenges ahead of us in 2020 and possibly also in the coming years.

Contemporary homophobic (and anti-GLBTIQ in the broad sense) rhetoric is not only present in far-away countries, the hate speech is echoing more and more closer to home in European countries.

Historically, the GLBTIQ community has never had to count on much sympathy. Rising homophobia is therefore not really surprising in itself. Like many other social trends, homophobia and homophobic rhetoric have a cyclical and metronomic movement in many Western countries. I’m putting the institutionalized homophobia of other countries aside here.

The gay-free zones in Poland, causing a lot of controversy, is again the ultimate proof of the dirty and perverse role that the Catholic Church plays in the homophobic discourse in this country. The Polish are more Catholic than the Pope and you should take that aspect of the country seriously. The church as an instigator of homophobia, there are still certainties in life.

There are many causes and reasons for this (hopefully temporary) increase in homophobia. Besides the Catholic Church as the instigator, other religions do not perform much better. The church as an institution - and by extension all religions - thrives by the grace of fear and insecurity among the population. Every catastrophe or economic depression is a dream come true for every religion. European migration policy is fuelling this.

Another cause, in my view, is the activist and often contradictory rhetoric that comes from the GLBTIQ community. Without a doubt, constant lobbying from all angles has ensured that certain rights and benefits are anchored in a definitive legal framework. Just think of legal cohabitation, same-sex marriage and relaxed adoption rules in some countries, homophobia as an aggravating factor in determining a criminal offence, and so on.

However, activism works like a metronome. It is good to steer the pendulum in a certain direction, but you don’t have to be a physicist to realize that the pendulum will return sooner or later. The same is true for gay activism. Expressions and accusations such as “being gay is the new normal” make that painfully clear.

Gay activism itself is also schizophrenic. While we continue to insist on the fact that we are no different than our heterosexual fellow human beings, activists continue to clearly highlight our differences.

We do not pay enough attention to what “the others” have to make of it. We do not pay enough attention to the fact that our activism, when the pendulum breaks out, can sometimes be misinterpreted. For those who are not yet convinced of this phenomenon, the first evidence that climate activism is provoking more and more resistance than sympathy, is already manifesting itself in my own circle of family, friends and professional contacts.

Our fight for recognition and discrimination is not over yet. However, we do not take enough account of “others.” At times I hear that they do not have to understand us. True, but we always forget that they are in the mathematical majority. There may still be a lot of work to be done, but continuing to point with an accusing activist finger will have the opposite effect. Admittedly, it is not easy to find a balance in this. The question is whether it is possible to approach this in a balanced way at all, without harming anyone, regardless of gender or orientation. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer myself.

Yours sincerely,

De Ket



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