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Letter from Brussels: As Was Said

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 24 december 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 4 minutes

Dear Neighbors to the North, Believe it or not, 2017 is almost over. Time for the traditional review of articles published in the Flemish media in the second half of 2017, with homophobic and less homophobic statements by well-known and less well-known people.

Lorin Parys
“I’m not gay anymore thanks to 240 Euros and a bag of Chocotoff.” (Mohamed Laghmouch, journalist at “Belang van Limburg” goes undercover with a camera to a “fortune teller” of North African descent who claims to be able to cure people from homosexuality.)

Carl Hoefkens“I played with three gay men, including one big name. One at Club Brugge, and two in the UK. I hope that finally, a player will come out of the closet and say he is gay. The taboo would finally be a thing of the past.” (Carl Hoefkens, former pro footballer in “De Zondag,” on homosexuality in professional soccer.)

“I used to like hanging around gay bars and listen to the typical disco music. I sometimes took people home, but I stopped doing that when I woke up one morning and didn’t know the man next to me in bed. And just after my 18th birthday I was sexually assaulted after being drugged. I told my mother and she made me get tested for HIV and other STDs. Fortunately, the results were negative.” (James Cooke, Flemish TV and musical actor, theatre producer and director, in “Het Laatste Nieuws,” about his being sexually assaulted.)

“In August of this year, during the Mr. Gay Europe elections in Stockholm, I didn’t want to admit to my crush on Raf, as I wanted to keep it professional. To engage in a relationship with one of the former candidates as the organizer of the election... I did not feel comfortable with that, although I really do not have to defend myself to anyone. Raf was the 2016 winner and no longer wore the title. Also, he was single.” (Bram Bierkens, organizer of Mister Gay Belgium, on his relationship with Raf van Puymbroek, who was Mister Gay Belgium 2016, on

Max Colombie“I’m gay and I don’t mind saying I’m gay. I love to be gay. I see myself as a queer artist, such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. But I want to be an artist for all people, not just for a limited group. That is why I do not explicitly label myself as gay. I’m not ashamed of it and everyone knows I’m gay. People only should see what I do for a living. (Max Colombie, singer of the popular Belgian band Oscar and the Wolf, in “Attitude,” talking about his homosexuality for the first time.)

“Any idea how frightening it is to look at your body in the mirror every day and think: I want a different one. Any idea how depressing it is to go out and be ridiculed? I want to disappear, you start thinking, as it hurts, being transsexual hurts so much so often.” (Maxim Magnus, eighteen-year-old transgender model from Antwerpen and successful at international fashion show catwalks, in an open-hearted video about the problems transgenders have to face each and every day.)

“People are not heterosexual or homosexual, they are on a scale with some in the middle and others at the far end of the scale.” (Magali De Reu, freelance journalist, on how she experiences being lesbian, on

“During my internship I was open about being gay. Most colleagues would accept it, others found it more difficult. So I was asked several times whether it would not be better if I were a hair dresser instead of a horticulturist.” (Jaimie Deblieck, Mister Gay Belgium 2017, in an interview in the build-up to the Mr. Gay Europe election in Stockholm, in “Het Nieuwsblad.”)

Guilman“Claiming to be a bear sometimes is a trend. Gay businesses claim the bear label without any content. Organizing a bear evening is more than growing a beard and have three chest hairs. Living together within the community can be hard at times. The muscle bear excluding the chubby bear, for instance. And vice-versa. The community seems to want to divide itself into categories and groups, which is a shame.” (Julian Guilman, after being elected Mister Bear Belgium in October, on

“We are the children of the Enlightenment. The separation of church and state is a principle we do not want to tough. Imagine, you’re a gay person entering the OCMW, and the first person you have to tell your personal story to already communicates by wearing a headscarf that her religion does not tolerate homosexuality. Try telling your story then.” (Lorin Parys, Flemish parliamentarian for N-VA and resident of Leuven in “Het Nieuwsblad” in a response to the decision that members of staff of the social services organisation OCMW Leuven are allowed to wear religious symbols.)

Yours sincerely,

De Ket



published Jul 2014       

published Jun 2017       


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