Friday 25 June 2010

Europe: No hiding place for Homo-nationalism

Minority is not inferiority
This represents a difficult subject and one of a very intimate nature that would well benefit from the kind of articulation I have brought to many issues that I have covered on my blog in the last 6 years.
I have been fortunate to have been born in Europe but had part of my development experience in Africa making me a product of the influence of all the cultures in which I have lived.
As a person of colour, one is in a minority but it does not then mean one should as well assume an inferiority complex. I have been blessed with a sense of awareness and being that has allowed me wade through the unfortunate scrapes with racism, snide belittlement and patronising conduct without being so negatively affected.
Comfortable in one’s skin
One somehow has a quality of assertiveness, if not wit where such encounters occur but not the legs to run when those situations have turned unnecessarily violent; in any case, I have refused to allow those experiences to take root and destroy the quality of self-esteem I believe I possess.
One place however where I have had some difficulty is where within a minority you then find vestiges of bigoted, intolerant, reprehensible behaviour, that just leaves you almost speechless, agitated and occasionally annoyed.
As I attended the Berlin Christopher Street Day [1] (CSD) celebrations, whilst I got wind of the event beforehand, I did not stay to witness it because I was quite exhausted and wanted to return to my hotel to rest.
Distancing from Homo-nationalism
Judith Butler [2], a renowned philosopher was being honoured with the ZivilCourage prize by the Berlin CSD, she was present but in the speech that they thought would be an acceptance speech, she declined the award castigating the pall of homo-nationalism that had become integral to the LGBT [3] movement in Germany and Europe to the exclusion of the recognition of the work, activities and plight of LGBT minorities.
It was a bold and brave stance to take [4] though the Berlin CSD organisers refused to engage or address the issues she raised and exhorted everyone to party on regardless.
A debate must ensue beyond the stereotypes that suppose that immigrants from the Global South are generally homophobic, intolerant, isolationist and illiberal in what has become a racist complicity perpetrated by organisations that are supposed to know better with their history of struggles for recognition, rights, fairness and justice.
A minority ignoring their minorities
The fact is we find such attitudes too amongst right-wing elements of Western societies and their fundamentalist counterparts around the world who abuse the purpose of religion to alienate, castigate, bastardise and condemn others in their quest for some sort of communal purity.
In the process, we forget that even amongst the indigenes of the Global South are people very much like us who suffer persecution in their homelands, rejection from their communities and in some cases serious violence amongst us in the West as their so-called loved ones portend to restore honour to their flawed ideals of perfection by eliminating what they consider as different or in the extreme abominable.
It is a shame that the seemingly emancipated networks of support created by organisations like the CSD cater mainly for their own without giving recognition to the activities, travails or issues that similar organisations catering for minorities try to address.
You come out to their public activities and might well assume that all minorities are heterosexual apart from the token few that dot the landscape only for their brazenness and boldness.
Killed for her sexuality
I am therefore pleased that not only has Judith Butler shed light on a subject many do not want to address, Angela Davis [5] has added her voice [6] to the matter.
What is interesting on the whole is that this situation is not limited to Berlin or Germany. In October 2009, an 18-year old Belgo-Moroccan girl, Layla Hachichi [7], was brutally murdered by her parents in an exorcism ritual which on examination was to rid the girl of her lesbianism.
The parents for all sorts of absurd reasons with the fact that they live in the West have surely not been able to understand the society they reside in. Whilst they might not have been able to accept the idea of their daughter’s homosexuality, the heinous crime of murder described in ways that make mediaeval torture tame is completely unforgiveable.
A silence so despicable
The sadder aspect of this is that it took almost six months for the Belgian umbrella LGBT organisation, Çavaria [8], to comment on the matter with the excuse that they did not have enough detail on the matter.
When an organisation like Çavaria is afraid to speak up for one of their own who just happens to be of immigrant stock for the fear of hurting the sensibilities of the community that has committed such atrocious crimes against a person for their sexuality, you begin to wonder if those organisation are from hence worthy of existence having failed to speak up for the voiceless, the helpless, the incapable and the unfortunate.
To redeem themselves they have assumed the stance of amicus curiae in the case giving them access to all facts of the case seeking justice for the girl. Though one must state that the facts leading to the murder of the girl had appeared in more than 60 articles, the excuse is flimsy at best.
No hiding place for Homo-nationalism
With Judith Butler, Angela Davis and many other commentators giving voice to this travesty, LGBT organisations would no longer have a hiding place when they are derelict in their responsibilities to all their constituency; obvious members, the oppressed, the ostracised or the afraid - that includes minorities in the West and those that suffer under unspeakable sanction in faraway lands.
Any LGBT gathering that fails to accommodate the minorities as part and parcel of the whole representation of the LGBT community at home first and abroad would cast the organisers as hypocritical and devoid of values, seriously unworthy of the social justice mantle they claim to have and detriment to any further struggle for rights and fairness as they will be open to justifiable criticism and derision. They have no hiding place anymore.
[9] News in brief | Flanders Today Published November 2009

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