Dear Neighbors to the North, although I write this column when the Belgian Pride still has to take place, not to worry. Just as previous year, Belgian Pride has already caused some commotion, even before the first drag queen with feathers up his ass is shaking his hips in a pretentious manner in front of a camera lens. The Brussels city council decided some weeks ago to change the yearly meeting place from Beursplein to the Kunstberg in the Central Station area.
The reason for this? On Beursplein people are still burning candles and placing flowers to commemorate the March 22 attacks at Zaventem Airport en Maalbeek metro station.
Beursplein has seen a lot of visitors since the attacks. The first days after the attacks the square was filled to the brim with satellite trucks and press of all major international news channels. Now, almost two months after the attacks, the occasional candle is still burning, but it mostly is a heap of withered flowers and plants that not only smells bad, it also turned the memorial site in front of the stairs of the Beursgebouw into a refuse dump instead of a place of commemoration.
The gay community reacted fiercely to the relocation of the central meeting place - or Pride Village - from Beurs to the Kunstberg. According to the Brussels city council, the decision was made in consultation with the organization, but we know from the past that not only is the organization fighting out internal (community) discord, it is also a yes-man when it comes to politics.
These last minute changes to Belgian Pride are made – roughly speaking, but true – for the sake of a refuse dump on the stairs of the Beursgebouw. On Facebook the gist is clear in a large part of the gay community: whatever happens, live goes on, and relocating an event because of a refuse dump is giving out the wrong signal.
Some take it one step further. A part of the council would rather see Belgian Pride outside of the city center than in it, they say. According to them, the refuse is the perfect excuse to push Belgian Pride out of the center bit by bit. Or how each excuse is excellent for the implementation of a hidden political agenda.
The internal fights within the organization and the political agenda have mortgaged the future of Belgian Pride for years now. Almost all gays and lesbians with some sense are onto the fact that year after year, organizationally things are changed or scaled down. Less pedestrianized streets to celebrate in, demarcated areas with fences with a visitor stop when a certain number of visitors has been reached, and so on. In short, quite a lot of measures that are only aimed at boycotting this yearly event in a subtle way.
I have predicted this some years ago in this column, and the truth is becoming painfully clear. If this trend continues, it remains to be seen if the Belgian Pride in Brussels will still be there in a couple of years. My prediction that the city council is slowly pushing the Pride out of the center has partly come true now. It is a matter of some years before the rest becomes a reality as well.