Thursday, November 15, 2012

Photo exhibition: MONTAGUE & CAPULET - The triumph of feelings by Ava Llorente

The gay and lesbian rights in France is an ongoing debate. It seriously became official last week with the Same-Sex Marriage Draft-Bill, supposedly put to Parliament in January 2013 (this 3 months period might be extended if the public debate is still strong in early 2013). However, in Belgium the same-sex marriage is legal since 2003 (becoming the second country in the world to legalize it at the time)! Two countries geographically close but culturally separated by a ten-year gap?

Belgian LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) associations organize a bunch of various activities throughout the country. In Brussels, the Rainbow House provides information and a café open to all to meet in a warm atmosphere for the French and Flemish speaking communities in the capital. One of their initiatives is a photo exhibition called Montague & Capulet - The The triumph of feelings.

Title obviously inspired from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet tragedy, the exhibition takes place in the FNAC Brussels, Avenue de la Toison d'Or, from November 9th to 30th, 2012:
I flew over these walls with the light wings of love. Stone walls can’t keep love out. Whatever a man in love can possibly do, his love will make him try to do it. - William Shakespeare.
I got interested in this exhibition because it aimed to capture the daily life of homosexual couples in Brussels. On the second floor of the FNAC (Toison d'Or), there was 20 pictures on the walls. There weren't much people but I really liked the work the artist Ava Llorente has made.

More than 400 years have passed since Shakespeare wrote these lines, but contrary to what one might think, the walls he evoked remain intact for many people around the world.According to their country, they risk imprisonment or even the death penalty. They are discriminated against, humiliated, persecuted, beaten, raped and murdered. Their only crime in the eyes of society and eyes of the state: to love someone of the same sex.
In Europe today, being gay is not a crime. The Netherlands and Belgium were the leaders in the fight against homophobia. However, do not think that one can live with his love without having to hide: homosexuality remains among the old taboos having a hard life. This is not because the law prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation that people minds are changing at the same pace.
Even today, two men or two women holding hands in public are sufficient to hear comments fusing. Stupid sex remarks in the best case, physical attacks or insults in more severe cases. And sometimes the irreparable. 
However, these people want nothing more than to live their lives peacefully and live their love. Two soulmates who have found each other and want to share their daily lives. Nothing more simple, nothing more than natural.
This exhibition aims to share with you, moments of the daily life of these lovers. Daily life impregnated with concerns and aspirations that we all share: to live with a loved one, to build its nest, a lifelong commitment. In short, nothing could be more normal for two people who love each other. Except that this morality is - for now - inaccessible for millions of people around the world.
The wings of their love unfold as it will pass through the walls, until the day when these limits are no longer stone.
Ava Llorente

Bruno and Thierry have
the plunge and
 moved in together. 
It only needed a few finishing touches like flowers for their new home.

It's been 6 years Patrick and Jacques live together.
Some habits are installed in their daily lives.
This is in turn, for example they choose the music they listen to at home.
Patrick has a degree in Japanese energy healing,
which is very nice for Jacques who can enjoy professional massages at home.

Raped by boys of her village in Senegal and then beaten by the man to whom she was married by force, Aminata took refuge in Belgium. She met Thiony who is expecting papers. Taking from their love the force needed to move on, they hope to begin a new life in Europe. To prepare Aminata has resumed her studies. By fear, the two women asked not to mention their real names.

Both Fatou and Diagne have fled their home country, Senegal, and met in Belgium. Still waiting for papers, they are forced to live in poverty. If their asylum application because of homosexuality is rejected by the judge, they will be forced to return to their country. A country which punishes homosexuality with sentences of five years in prison and where homosexuals are subject to rejection and violence on a daily basis.

Would that mean that some Belgian minds didn't change yet even though the law prohibits sexual-orientation discrimination since 10 years? Apparently yes. But you can't force people to think. Hum, this 10-years gap again! We're all human after all. This exhibition puts the light on a fight that's far from over: LGBT rights in Europe. France, you're next. Thanks to Rainbow House and Ava Llorente.

Check out the exhibition yourself within 2 more weeks!

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