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The literary magazine “De Parelduiker” has dedicated a double issue to Dutch columnist, author and poet Gerrit Komrij (1944-2012). Gerrit Komrij may rightly be seen as a homo universalis. He was gifted in many forms of art. Most people know him as an anthologist, as a poet, a writer, or a columnist.

Sep 2017       
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In 2011, actor Willem Nijholt published his letter to Dutch authoress Hella Haasse. Haasse was, as was Nijholt, born in the Dutch-Indies. After the publication of this book of letters, which for a large part deals with his time in a Japanese (POW) camp and is a “a stirring tribute to his mother” (according to newspaper “de Volkskrant” in 2011), now his memoirs are published. In expressive, associative, and often exuberant language Nijholt takes the reader to some impressive chapters in his life.

Jan 2017       
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Just as God created Adam and Eve, there must have been a parliamentarian who was the first ever to “come out of the closet.” According to American political scientist Andrew Reynolds, that was Coos Huijsen (1939), who briefly was an MP for the Christelijk-Historische Unie (Christian Historical Union; CHU). This partly consisted of the mostly Dutch-reformed branch of what became CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) in 1980. Huijsen wrote the autobiography “Homo politicus” about his life, being gay (and practicing it), and especially his role as a gay activist.

Sep 2016       
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The Bible Belt is an umbrella term for those areas in The Netherlands where orthodox-Christians, or the pietistic reformed (also called “refo’s”), represent a significant part of the population. Like a ribbon, the Bible Belt extends from the Zeeland islands via the central rivers and the Veluwe to places such as Staphorst, Rijssen, and Urk. Refo’s belong to reformed denominations such as the Gereformeerde Gemeente, the Hersteld Hervormde Kerk and the Gereformeerde Bond in de Hervormde Kerk.

Apr 2014       
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“If someone is homo and seeks God and has good intentions, who am I to judge him.” This recent statement by the jolly and cuddly Pope Francis came as a real bombshell to many. For the first time since time immemorial, a Pope showed mercy to his gay fellow man. That the Pope only meant those who are celibate, did not cast a shadow on the joy of the free-thinkers. Finally a Pope with something positive to say.

Sep 2013       
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No Accusations, But Respect: “When people are suffering, I spring into action. And I take an interest. I only take to heart the individual road of that young man or woman.” Father Jan van Kilsdonk could not have characterized himself better. Van Kilsdonk did so just before his death in 2008, in more than sixty hours of conversations with author Alex Verburg. With these conversations as a basis, Verburg wrote a remarkable and compelling portrait of one of the most colorful clergymen The Netherlands have ever known.

May 2013       
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Who talks about the Dutch weekly “Elsevier” in the seventies and eighties of thelast century, mentions a pronounced right-wing medium. Nonetheless, during these years of politically polarized relationships, Rex Brico (1928) was this magazine’s talked-about, leftist (religion) reporter. He survived several editors-in-chief and conflicts and seized the opportunity to conduct important interviews.

Mar 2013       
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Apart from his work as an anthologist and as former Dutch Poet Laureate, Gerrit Komrij is primarily known as a critic and essayist with a biting pen. For many years he published sharp and witty comments on the utterances of well-known and famous Dutch people in the daily newspaper “NRC Handelsblad.”

Jul 2012       
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What is a novel? After reading certain books you start to wonder about what it is again that makes a story a novel. A novel is in any case fictional prose. It has a certain minimum length, but nobody knows exactly how long it’s supposed to be. A small novel is called a novella. “Schweigeminute” by Siegfried Lenz (translated as “Stella” in English) is called a novel or novella although it comprises just 100 pages.

Apr 2012       
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Suppose I’m gay and Reformed-liberated, would I have use for a little booklet that lists in which church I’m allowed to get married with my partner? I don’t think Wielie Elhorst, chair of the LKP (national Dutch umbrella organization for churches and homosexuality) and Tom Mikkers, secretary of the Remonstrant Brethren, thought of this when they fabricated the colorful and titillating little book “Coming Out Churches,” despite the English title published in Dutch by the way.

Jan 2012       
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It doesn’t happen very often that the same biographer writes three biographies about a writer or poet. But now it has happened to the poet Willem de Mérode (1887-1939). His biographer, Hans Werkman, saw enough reasons to rewrite his previous biography from 1983 thoroughly. Werkman discovered new facts and understandings, which justified a third, still more complete biography. And rightly so.

Nov 2011       
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M. Vasalis (pseudonym of M. Droogleever Fortuyn-Leenmans, 1909-1998) is one of the most important traditionalist Dutch poets from the second half of the twentieth century. Her poems are often characterized by the use of personification and anthropomorphism. Frequently her poems conclude, after a series of nature impressions, with introspection.

Oct 2011       
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He is 21, starred in about fifty porn movies and is a regular Belgian boy dressed in a gray T-shirt and faded jeans, except when he’s on the set of course. Philippe Delvaux (his real name is kept a secret) is famous with gays not really into hairy legs and black leather, but prefer an angelic, sometimes sultry, other times questioning or confident blue glance. But unfortunately the world of porn is not just soaked in glamour, Jacuzzis, expensive sports cars and huge amounts of money.

Jul 2011       
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The Dutch Working Association Catholic Gay Pastors, WKHP, has recently launched a new website, No news, one would say, in a time in which homosexuality has gained general acceptance? Unfortunately, the reality within the Roman catholic church is different. According to Theo Koster, student pastor at Nijmegen and Dominican, for gays the social situation is “even worse than thirty years ago.”

May 2011       
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“Christian Democrat council member: Homosexuality is unnatural,” “Gays can still adopt in the US,” “Obligatory inclusion of gay relationships in school lessons in California,” “Happy with denouncing gay practice,” “Will not print gay text for a million,” “Half of gay relationships polygamous.” This is a random pick of headlines from the Dutch orthodox Calvinist daily “Reformatorisch Dagblad.” No other newspaper is so obsessed with gay issues as the RD!

Jan 2011       
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When you think of a book about the man and his body, you wouldn’t immediately expect Arie Boomsma (chucked out of the Evangelical broadcasting company EO for his almost-nude photo session in “L’Homo” and nowadays working for the Catholic KRO television) and Stephan Sanders (gay, vivant and writer-journalist) to have written it.

Sep 2010       
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Photo comics were never that big in Holland, perhaps because they were seen as too slow and too explanatory. We’ve gotten used to the fast images of YouTube and other digital highways. Indeed, compared with these communication techniques a photo comic seems old-fashioned, like a dust-track with potholes. It reminds us of the slow stripteases of girls in “naughty” magazines of the seventies. A classic cartoon with drawings is fine, but pages with photos and text balloons?

Mar 2010       
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Suppose you’re gay and you hold your lover’s hand while you’re cycling home. Somebody in a car yells out: “Fucking Poofs!” What would you do? Exactly, you’d write a book about gay people in professional sports! At least, that’s what Huub ter Haar from Nijmegen did. He portrayed ten, mostly former, top sportsmen and asked a few sports celebs to write a column. He bundled it all in 127 pages of trouble and sweat with the title “Gelijkspel” (Draw).

Mar 2009       
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