I am honored to be granted the opportunity to introduce this awesome initiative; the opening of which I’d love to spend on a pointed piece dictating the importance of this magazine; filled with powerful one-liners, well known and unique selling points, and (obviously) unapologetic activism. I am afraid, however, that I cannot write that. It would give a skewed image of what is a much more nuanced origin and vision. What I can try to do, is describe how this ‘baby’ was born. Nurtured with an impressive amount of rashness and enthusiasm, this bundle of joy has been raised by loving, creative people who above all want to try doing ‘it’ differently.
For her birth, we return to the summer of 2014, in Berlin. It’s a sweltering day, and together with some co-authors, we read L’HOMO: the little brother of the LINDA but then created about homosexuals. Here, founder and creator Linda de Mol consistently refers to “the gays” when she admits that, for example, she’d much rather go on vacation with “the gays” because “gays” always want to come along to shop, and don’t “only talk about themselves”. This is also her platform to exclaim her surprise at the fact that “gays” always smell nice. I was a bit surprised as well. Whenever I’m dancing at a club (be it Occii or de Trut), I see – well, smell – something definitively different. And that pretty much goes for all generalizations that L’HOMO spews regarding gay people. They’re catchy, they’re an easy read, but they don’t reflect my reality.
Lazily and occasionally giving a few words of criticism is too easy; and so we’ve chosen to highlight that other reality ourselves. This has been our vision from the start: we’re here to put something beautiful into the world, which revolves around the stories of real people, and which doesn’t shy away from a healthy amount of self-mockery. The title, however unpronounceable, is a wink to L’HOMO, but the content has a soul of its own, silencing further comparison.
L’HBTQ magazine aims to be inclusive, and avoid idealistic notions about how femininity and masculinity should be embodied. While this may seem an honorable but unattainable goal for a magazine consisting of some eighty-odd pages, it still warrants a serious attempt; especially in the contemporary ‘magazine world’ where people love to think, eat, and sleep in their own small worlds. In this regard, the “Q” of queer is not unimportant. For me, this letter symbolizes overcoming opposites – man vs. woman, gay vs straight, black vs. white, you get the idea – and escaping social constraints. I believe: pigeonholing people is not OK.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way claim to be an expert regarding that Q. On the contrary: The term often confuses me, especially when I’m dressed in male clothes and standing makeup-less among a clique of rosé-sipping women sporting short dresses and heals; then I feel extra queer. But when I wear the same outfit while dancing in Vrankrijk I often feel judged on my femininity because I just so happened to be wearing my hair down that day. When I look around me, it’s as if others have more of a “right” to that identity. Is this the enigmatic nature of being ‘queer’ in practice? Or is this just me being awkward?
Right, we’re getting off track. Here, it’s not about “having a right to” or “having the only correct answer” to those eternal pigeonholes. What’s important is that this magazine is created by real people who want to tell stories about – surprise! – real people. In our own way, we’ve tried to point out what can be done differently. We’ve looked around, we’ve wondered, we’ve questioned everything, and had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. We sat down, thought of which stories would strike a recognizable chord, and we wrote just that. No holds barred. These stories don’t have to be photoshopped, and don’t need a celebrity on the cover. Kind of like in real life, which sometimes also stinks. Thank god.