Blogger Leonardo reflects on lessons learned after visiting Amsterdam’s most famous house.
The secret annex in Anne Frank’s house, hidden by a swinging cupboard on the wall, is a disturbing place. I can’t help but get all misty-eyed as pictures on the walls and preserved furniture narrate the horrors of spending more than two years hiding in close quarters. The climax unfolds as I overhear another visitor whispering ‘and this could easily happen again’.
Now, that’s a scary thought. It may already have.
Unlike Anne, I’m free to leave the building into a surprisingly warm, sunny day. I spot, around the corner and shadowed by the Westerkerk, a pinkish granite triangle with 10-meter-long sides and rising 60 centimeters from the floor. There’s another one at ground level, 15 meters away, and another one down the steps into the Keizersgracht, the Emperor’s canal.
The sign reads HOMOMONUMENT, ‘to inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination’. The triangles replicate the pink marks used in Nazi concentration camps to identify those who were held captive after being exposed as homosexuals.
I remember Anne’s houseguest: ‘this could easily happen again’. It may already have.
Very much like the Frank family, Viktor spent weeks hiding in his home after being attacked in the streets of Kyrgyzstan and subjected to several ‘corrective rapes’. He is one of thousands of victims abused after the introduction of Russia´s anti-gay propaganda law and its adoption by several neighboring countries.
Brayan, from Colombia, was just stabbed outside his house while wearing makeup. He was embellished by his wife’s friends as a game during his unborn son’s baby shower. I think he would agree, if he were still alive today, that anti-gay campaigns all across Latin America force people to hide in their own symbolic closets.
Watching Amsterdammers stroll through the triangles, I think of Mexico, where hundreds of thousands of people are marching in the streets in support of ‘traditional’ family values. I think of friends and family, who ‘kind of’ embrace this conviction. I think of myself, constantly using homosexual slang like maricón, joto, puto, as a manner of mockery. I suddenly fail to see the funny side.
I think: it may be time we all learn something from the Dutch.