Ulas Yilmaz, 'No honey, it's not true, but simply "ordinary racism"

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„Ausländer nehmen uns die Homophobie weg!“

No honey, it’s not true, but simply “ordinary racism”

Ulaş Yilmaz

June 2009, Berlin

Reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Petzen and Koray Yilmaz-Günay

In Berlin, the ongoing popular projects against homophobia mostly aim to reduce the violence on the street, and try to provide the gays and lesbians with what they deserve – an honorable place in the upper middle classes of the society. Hence, the tendency of people is to understand homophobia as the violence on the street. Consequently, it gives people a good starting point for action and mobilization. Yet, this populist window of seeing the problem, gives homophobia a chance to evolve. It is now less visible, more distracting but even more dangerous…

Although the social normalization of gay identity is relatively new (definitely not a completed process) in West Europe and North America, many pretend to have had it in the bible since Jesus Christ. It might sound ridiculous in every way; however it is a fact. Considering gay as normal – under certain circumstances of course-, is especially a sign of current upper class whiteness. It is a property of the western society, and is a means to define and sort out “us” versus “them”. Someone must have seen the danger, that in March 2009 Berlin’s red-red government released an initiative for the acceptance of sexual diversity. This plan offers a fundamental change in the understanding of the problem and proposes a radical turn from the current politics.

LGBTT-Immigrants between Racism and Transphobia/Homophobia

This new initiative may offer a good opportunity to ease the suffering of LGBTT Immigrants, who have to live in a dilemma of racism and homophobia, a bit. Yet, considering the fact that Germany is an immigration country without a concept, it would only be realistic to say that it can only offer a tiny bit of sanctuary to LGBTT immigrants.

In Germany every fifth non-immigrant citizen thinks that foreigners are taking away the work opportunities which are actually the right of Germans. It is the starting sentence of every right wing political campaign: “Ausländer nehmen uns die Arbeitsplätze weg“. Clearly stated or embedded in words… It would not be surprising to hear that every fifth non-immigrant citizen claims that homophobia is all caused by immigrants. Common public opinion is that homophobic attacks are committed by either immigrants or Neo-Nazis. Nazis, as usual, are coming from outer space, so Germany has nothing to do with them - in the worst case they are the black sheep of the family, who still can be controlled and sorted out as a part of “us”. However, immigrants are coming from Islamic countries. They are at the end Islamists and dangerous. It is out of the question that they can be a part of “us”. Being LGBTT is, however, considered to be a diversion. Germans are really eager to give you a special place, a statue, if you once confess that you cannot and do not want to belong to the immigrant society by giving your sexual orientation as an excuse. This places you somewhere in between “us” and “them”. You might like it, if you like playing the role of the house pet. Then you have to answer the following questions in a proper way.

Question: What does Islam/Quran say about your homosexuality? It must be very difficult for you.

Right answer: Yes, it is forbidden in Islam/Quran. What I am doing is not accepted and permitted in my community. That I am doing this makes me feel really uneasy about it. I have problems.

Question: Your family doesn’t know you are gay, do they? It must be very hard for you to be in the closet all the time. How would they react, if they found out?

Right answer: God forbid! I cannot even think of that they found out I am gay. No, no, no, never! They’d kill me. I mean it!

A typical conversation in the gay scene

I like Mediterranean guys. Where are you from? Spain?

No.

Italy?

No.

My goodness, where are you from? France?

No, I am from Turkey.

No. That cannot be! You don’t look like from Turkey. (This last part starts with a big naughty smile on the face saying, you got me; now, you take me, if you are a real Turk!)

A typical conversation at the cafeteria on the first day of university

No! Don’t eat that. It is pork meat.

It is ok. I eat pork.

A week after at the cafeteria

No! Don’t eat that. It is pork meat. It is forbidden in Islam, isn’t it!

It is ok. I like pork. I told you before.

A year after at the cafeteria

Don’t! It is pork. It is not halal!

It is ok. Could you just stop it please! I eat what I like.

After five years at the same damn place

I didn’t know you ate pork. You are really a modern person!

Ha? (I wish you were not the same old racist crap.)

Same old same old

Since the colonial period, people with a non-white background have a lower place in the world order than Europeans. The function of Islamophobia conveniently is to try to erase the “race” part of racism by using a euphemistic language. As a result, despite the fact that the current European identity is fed on uprising nationalism and racism, it is less visible in public debate. Yet, everybody, -that includes left wing activists, too- talks about Islamophobia in a very passionate way. However, leaving Islamophobia aside and starting talking about racism would be justice for all.□