We sit at the fastfood place, it’s early summer morning and we have just left the party were we celebrated Stockholm Pride. Me, one of my dearest friends and another lovely friend of mine are bubbly, high on endorphins and also tired after one week of queer activism and partying in the most beautiful city in Scandinavia.
H who is a pervert and loves to dance is often perceived as being gay. I think it has to do with his pink latex in the pride parade, or that he just sometimes does not conform to gender stereotypes. And I love him for it. With makeup or without, in his smart suits (suits that he can pass as a straight man). But all in all, he identifies as a straight man. This morning he is dressed up, wearing his matrixy pvc-coat and nice makeup.
So we are sitting, munching away, some of us on vegetarian hamburgers, some of us on dead animals. When H decides to go to the loo he has to pass a group of people, and they stare. We are used at being stared at, christ, 12 hours prior to this we paraded through Stockholm, dressed in our finest latex, leather, pcv and corsets and we enjoyed every minute of it. So far so good.
But now when H is walking back, passing the group again, there it is. Shouted out. ‘Fucking faggot’.
And H smiles a bit, because of the irony. Me and the other girl are the queer ones here, not him. But we pass, because I’m dragged up, performing femininity and the other girl pass as straight as well. The dictatorship of normality, even the perceived normality. Next thing I hear is the words ‘If my brother would say he is gay, then I would kill him, I would shoot him’.
And somewhere I go all cold. My body that felt warm and fuzzy after the beating and the ropes is now cold, stiff and not scared but on guard. Aware of their movements, their voices, although it is the type of group that would never dare to hurt any one with anyting else but words. I want to touch my friend, give ourselves a hug, and a kiss, but I know that if I would kiss her, all hell would break loose. I limit myself and my movements because of them, allowing them, can’t think about anything to say, can’t even try to scream and shout…The gag and the rope are different in this moment, they are the killing ones, not the ones I crave.
Next morning I talk to a dear friend who has a relative living in Tel Aviv. The relative had sent him an email, telling him about the shooting of several young people at a LGBTQ-centre in Tel Aviv during Saturday evening. A masked man walked in and shot at random, two people dead and 11 wounded. And I cry. I cry quietly because my anger restricts my ability to shout out loud.
I think about a man who would shoot his own brother.
I think about the man who would murder his brother if the borther was gay.Some people pass and some has to make excuses to survive. Some people live because of other allowing them to, not because it’s their right. All over the world queers are killed, murdered, butchered, bullied, harassed, raped, ignored, hated, spat on.
The perpetrators are not the crazy maniacs, at least not according to the statistics of Stockholm Police, a special hatecrime department that deals only with hate crimes. Their work improves the chances of being treated justly when reporting hate crime to the police, because of their special knowledge.
The crimes reported are not always about direct violence, not always murder, but more often it’s about harassment and bullying, vocal violence. The perpetrators are often younger, men. Striking in their normality. And many times crimes are not reported at all.
Statistics can lie, we all know that..
On the 1st of august 2009 Liz Tarbushi, 16 and Nir Katz, 26, died and a dozen other people was wounded by the man who shot in to the crowd at a community for young LGBTQ-people.
During pride celebrations in Stockholm, there was 6 hatecrimes reported. During OutGames 2009, in Copenhagen, at least 5 attacks was noted, one of them was a small homemade minibomd that was thrown in to the arena where the athletes competed.
The aftermath of this was a Pride parade that was bigger than ever, when the danes went to the streets and joined the parade to show their support for the cause and to show their disgust towards those who hate, and those who use violence as a way show that hate.
A candle light vigil was held in Stockholm, a vigil that me and my friends missed because we were already on our way home. We sat in the car, the mood quite weird, but we decided to hold a vigil in our own hometown a few days later.
We did and we are very happy we did it. It was not only to show our solidarity with the victims of these crimes, but also to give ourselves support and show our anger and frustration.
We had the candles, went in a procession around the square, silent, with a rainbowflag in the front. A silent moment in the middle of the square, then the most heartfelt kiss-in I’ve ever participated in. We kissed or greated eachother, all of those who had come to the vigil, to put focus on the love that is so hated, and the love that we feel for eachother.
After sitting infront of the candles that we placed at a fountain I held a short speach, reminding the public why we were there. I also read from the Queer Nations Manifest. And we cried. Many of us cried. Me and E stayed there all evening, keeping the candles alive, talking to passers-by, handing them candles to light themselves and giving them the possibility to write a message against hatecrime. We counted a lot ofsupport, only two or three people who was openly hostile, a pair of danes (oh the irony) and a old lady that thought it was good that some homos at a sexclub got beaten up.
Going home that evening, we felt tired, proud and sad.
And then, a couple of weeks later, the situation for non-straight (mostly) men in Iraq is reported being awful. Death squads that feed men with laxatives then glue their anuses together and other types of torture, such as rape in prisons, beatings, threats and physical violence, etc, etc.
Human Rights Watch report about the situation, but still, the Swedish migration office choose to send back Iraqi men that seek safety within the Swedish border. The frustration over the lack of action from the Swedish government was shown at a vigil earlier this week, where a performance was held in Stockholm together with a protest against the migration office decisions and the inability of the Swedish government to act.
Fredrik Reinfeldt (swedish PM) & c/o does not take their responsibility in these cases. During this week, another Iraqi man was deported back to the country that will most certainly torture, as well as being killed, just because they are do not love someone of the other sex. More men are to be deported.
Carl Bildt, a prominent politician who loves to travel around the world to make it better, is keeping queiet. Why is this? Has someone glued his mouth or does he just plainly refuse to see the reality?
Why the title of this post then? Because of the text I read from Queer Nations Manifest at the vigil:
An Army of Lovers Cannot Loose
“Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred. (We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.) [...]
Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night. Being queer is “grass roots” because we know that everyone of us, every body, every cunt, every heart and ass and dick is a world of pleasure waiting to be explored. Everyone of us is a world of infinite possibility.
We are an army because we have to be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who know what love is. Desire and lust, too. We invented them. We come out of the closet, face the rejection of society, face firing squads, just to love each other! Every time we fuck, we win.
We must fight for ourselves (no else is going to do it) and if in that process we bring greater freedom to the world at large then great. (We’ve given so much to that world: democracy, all the arts, the concepts of love, philosophy and the soul, to name just a few of the gifts from our ancient Greek Dykes, Fags.) Let’s make every space a Lesbian and Gay space. Every street a part of our sexual geography. A city of yearning and then total satisfaction. A city and a country where we can be safe and free and more. We must look at our lives and see what’s best in them, see what is queer and what is straight and let that straight chaff fall away! Remember there is so, so little time. And I want to be a lover of each and every one of you. Next year, we march naked.[...]
The strong sisters told the brothers that there were two important things to remember about the coming revolutions. The first is that we will get our asses kicked. The second is that we will win.
I’m angry. I’m angry for being condemned to death by strangers saying, “You deserve to die…”
News has reached me that two transpersons has been stabbed on the street in Washington DC , one dead.
For more to read:
Human Rights Watch Report can be downloaded here
On stepping out and being political in art