Society & Culture & Entertainment Performing Arts

Our Actual History

I took my bike during 2007 Rainbow Festival in Malmö, Sweden, to go to an evening of queer poetry with Jan Hammarlund.
Jan is the first openly gay artist who was played in Swedish radio in the 70s, that way he himself is a part of our LGBT heritage.
The program read: 2000 years of queer poetry round the Mediterranean sea.
Sappho, Catullus, Kavafi.
In some way I could feel it was interconnected with my own recital, performed the day before - "Music from the closet".
The recital I performed was on classical music and the composers/ poets/ artists/ mathematicians etc and so on, imprisoned in the closet by others.
I felt relaxed after the successful performance and ready to fill up with new inspiration.
I did get inspired but in ways I had not thought about.
It hit me, with a force, that what we had both done with our programs was to point the finger at something we seldom talk about.
Our history.
Our unfathomable rich history.
I say unfathomable as we are not talking about little side tracks or behind the scenes people here! Three of the most well known pictures in the world are made by the same artist.
Every body knows his name.
Few dare to say he was gay.
But by not telling things the way they are, by pushing the most important icons of the western world into the closet century after century, by distortion and lies and silence, all of us whom belong amongst the LGBT crowd are forced to live within a false lack of historic perspectives.
This in spite o the fact that we really do have a very rich heritage to get inspired by.
Instead the focus is put on hate crimes, aids and HIV.
This way we can be referred to as victims, poor them and the majority can place themselves on a slightly higher level.
I mean, really, who wants to admire and get inspired by a dyke? Nadia Boulanger, Michelangelo, Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Aaron Copland, Handel, Schubert and Sappho how human where they? Human enough to be counted amongst those contributing to the development of our society and proud western heritage? Apparently.
But would they be allowed to get married - today? Would Rumi survive in Iran these days? Probably not...
So I am asking myself: Who is supposed to be able to take part of the human rights and the heritage of humanity? Which ones are a little more human, a little more important than others? Which ones are less important? Who decides? And not least I ask my self: What of immeasurable value has been created by LGBT people? No one of "those deciding" would really dispute that Leonardo da Vinci is very important to this day.
But was he human? Was he human enough to take part of the same rights that heterosexuals have? I think we can say no to that.
He was not.
Not then and not now! What I and Jan did during the Rainbow Festival here in Sweden, was to actively lift some of the most important cultural icons out of the closet.
Some giants of which western society is constantly in debt.
We use our professions to dare say what is constantly hidden from us.
Things like: Apparently Leonardo da Vinci was gay! You see, when I hear Jan Hammarlund read Catullus addressing another man, so erotic it bites the skin, I have to laugh out loud.
Laugh because I blush, because it is such high standards and because he was one of us.
Sappho, Catullus and Kavafi are all part of our honorable LGBT past.
We have to understand that if "we" do not say that out loud "they" will not say it for us.
More queer poems to the people! Not bad, eh?

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