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Gert Hekma’s Formal Leave of the University of Amsterdam

by our Editors in General , 12 september 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Since 1984, Gert Hekma was the figurehead of Gay and Lesbian Studies at the University of Amsterdam. This year, however, sees his retirement. Gert Hekma has now officially left the sociology and anthropology department of the University of Amsterdam. With giving the annual Mosse Lecture on the 20th of September he will say his official goodbyes to Gay and Lesbian Studies, which was set up in 1984.

“The initial impetus of Gay and Lesbian Studies was an international conference on homosexuality, which became a great success. The Rooie Flikkers (Red Faggots), a group of radical activists, had organized the conference. This had put the theme on the map,” he recently said in an interview with Caspar Pisters for Dutch newspaper Het Parool.

Although Hekma was popular with his students, colleagues and administrators sometimes had trouble with him as he is extremely outspoken, and doesn’t find it necessary to conceal that homosexuality also involves sex and not just identity. For example, during an English-language symposium organized on June 15-16 on the occasion of his retirement, topics such as “Male Prostitution 1900-1950,” “Fags and Whores – between Slut Shaming and Homophobia,” and “The democratic darkroom: Pleasures and risk in Amsterdam’s gay sex scene” were raised.

In 2002, Hekma was one of the founders of the George Mosse Foundation for the promotion of the study of gay and lesbian history at the University of Amsterdam. Justice therefore demanded that he would give the Mosse Lecture in the year of his university farewell. The title of his lecture is “Half a century of gay acceptance from the closet: From unattainable ideal to insufficient perspective.” Hekma will discuss how from 1967 in less than fifty years’ time, everything has changed for gays and lesbians. For the most part, the Dutch no longer see homosexuality as despicable, as a sin, a crime, a disease.

Dismissive views have become unacceptable, and a new reality has replaced the old situation. But what gay acceptance truly means remains a question that doesn’t have just one clear answer. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are “accepting” each other as just the same - or normal, but not the same - or the same but never just normal. Was Gerrit Komrij right when he - in the 2008 Mosse Lecture - said that people in the Netherlands do not have a clue what acceptance means exactly? But who does?

The Mosse Lecture will take place on Wednesday, September 20, from 17:30 to 18:30 in the “Theater van het Woord” on the seventh floor of the Amsterdam Public Library OBA, Oosterdokskade 143. Prior to the Mosse Lecture 2017, an exhibition on the Rooie Flikkers and Gay Studies UvA entitled “One Dress Says More Than A Thousand Words” will be opened at IHLIA at 15:00. The Rooie Flikkers appeared out of nowhere in 1975: a group of gay activists in Nijmegen who called themselves “flikkers” (faggots) and were provocatively walking around in dresses.
The Flikkertheatergroep on stage in Hamburg, 1978
They called themselves Red Faggots as in red because they were left-wing and because they felt that the left of the political spectrum needed to change. They were fed up with the “homosexual who is allowed to exist, but not to act.” Between 1975 and 1980, they first managed greater pride of being gay in Nijmegen, later on followed by Amsterdam. Their greatest merit was in the gay community, but they also created assertiveness at the universities with Gay Studies. The exhibition “One Dress Says More Than A Thousand Words” is about the search for identity, the raising of consciousness, and shaping the need for change. This period of unrest led to a large group of self-organizations under the pink flag of the Pink Front.

The exhibition “One Dress Says More Than A Thousand Words” can be visited until December 3 in the exhibition space on the IHLIA square on the third floor of the Central Public Library OBA, Oosterdokskade 143, 1011 DL Amsterdam. A booklet with the same name will appear alongside the exhibition. The booklet is written by Martien Sleutjes, IHLIA historical research volunteer and long-time editor of the bi-monthly scientific and cultural magazine “Homologie,” which appeared from 1978 to 1997. Gert Hekma was actively involved as a contributor to this magazine, as he still is contributing to Gay News.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 330, februari 2019

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