“Queer”: an explanation
What does “Queer” in Queer Pride Gent stand for? Queer wants to question, or ‘queer’, norms, structures and institutions that maintain or reinforce marginalisation, injustice and inclusion, in particular with regard to sexual and gender variant identities and communities. Thus so not through the way of another identity politics, but by truly creating its own view: queer politics.
Queer politics imply another way of experiencing the world: a questioning and (self-)reflective position towards a line of thinking, a mode of living or a way of expression. Queer contests normality and contrasts it with one’s own difference.
Through this, queer is focused on laying bare nuances, complexities and privileges, on the rejection of black versus white amongst others while embracing all the shades and colours in between and around. How understanding are you towards people you do not know or perhaps are prejudiced about?, think of polyamorous people, sex workers, ex-convicts, squatters, refugees, sexual assault survivors, homeless people, unemployed people, neurodivergent people, physically challenged people, people who experience romantic feelings on the age-spectrum, hiv positive people, recovering addicts, and so on and so forth.
Queer requires us to think and act in an intersectional way, as whole human beings, without repressing parts of our multiple and fluent identities. Queer pride, then, is about this form of total liberation. This can only be achieved through connectedness and solidarity. As such, the process towards queer pride is about making individual (and not as much institutionalised or commercial) connections through a collective working process wherein individuals only represent themselves. We envision a goal of inclusivity that is already practiced during this process. Queer pride critically addresses all institutions that exclude people based on not only sexuality and gender but also nationality, ethnicity, income, beliefs and lifestyles.
Queer Pride Gent wants to smash taboos and include people who support a clear, radical message. This is targeted against norms, structures and institutions that produce socially inclusionary and unjust realities and outcomes. Whilst Queer Pride Gent is politically independent, it wants, as constructive modus operandi, to politicise dominant powers on which marginalised people badly rely today. It distinguishes itself from other pride events to highlight – 50 years after the stonewall riots – that pride is a protest. A queer pride does not allow itself to be instrumentalised or hijacked for political or commercial gain. It determines its own agenda.
Queer Pride Gent is, thus, about experiencing queer, not about selling queer. It embraces oppressed and marginalised groups, the grassroots, local community merchants, fair and ethical consumption, community giving, trading and bartering, etc. It gets people acquainted with the richness of the local social and sexual diversity, different lifestyle habits and (sub)cultural traditions. In doing so, it brings social struggles and the lived experiences of those who are marginalised to the surface, which are not often seen or heard.
All in all, Queer Pride Gent is a bottom-up concerted event that fights exclusionary policies, practises and spaces through mobilising critical thought and localised action. It builds and unfolds an alternative story, a story that both reveals and connects difference and promotes radical social change.