Bible belt village says no to gay Remembrance wreath
The organisers of May 4 Remembrance Day commemorations on the Bible belt island of Goeree-Overflakkee have told the local lesbian and gay community they may not lay a wreath at the local cemetery because ‘the village is not ready for this’, the AD has reported.
Sam Fish, chairwoman of the Gay op Flakkee group, had contacted the organisers of the ceremony at the village of Nieuwe-Tonge about laying a wreath but was told after several phone calls that the plan could not go ahead.
‘They don’t need to worry that we will turn up with flags and drag queens,’ Fish told the paper. ‘We are ordinary people and we want to focus attention on the gays, lesbians and other members of the LGBT+ community.’
Karolien Jordaan, who chairs the organising committee, told the AD that they did not think Nieuwe-Tonge ‘was ready’ for a wider commemoration.
‘The village council, the local authority and veterans lay a wreath,’ she said. ‘And after 80 years, Gay op Flakkee wants to do the same? They already do it at [the nearby village of] Middelharnis cemetery, why now in two places?’
Fish said in a reaction to the commotion that the island’s gay community is not angry about the decision. ‘If they had said yes, people would not be happy about it either,’ she said on her own news website.
The media reaction ‘shows how much Gay on Flakkee is still needed on this island,’ she said. ‘Hopefully it will become normal for us to lay flowers in the coming years, that we no longer have to ask if we are welcome, and that we can be there as a matter of course.’
Goeree-Overflakkee hit the headlines eight years ago after Fish interviewed a gay couple for the local paper. Advertisers were up in arms about the interview and the editor later apologised for printing the article.
Seven of the island’s 31 local councillors are from the fundamentalist Protestant party SGP.
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