Dear Mr Ahmed Aboutaleb

photo of Delegation of LGBTQ athletes at EuroGames 2011 with Mayor of Rotterdam

Dear Mr. Ahmed Aboutaleb,
I would like to wish you all the best in 2012 on behalf of the EuroGames 2011 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina. We all remember the moment of the opening in Rotterdam and your inspirational speech about equality in human rights and access to sport for all. It was especially touching to hear you talk about community outreach to Eastern Europe where situation of legal regulation, practical application of it and reality of life in economically deprived society go against LGBTQ population. This inspired us to take this photo with you.

We understand that as the Mayor of Rotterdam with your Moroccan origin you are aware and sensitive to discrimination of minorities. However I am not sure if you were aware that emancipation and visibility of homosexuals in The Netherlands did not evolve much beyond white middle class Dutch and Expats. Organizers of East Europe LGBTQ sport Outreach made a big and respectful effort – where we would especially highlight young program coordinator Dennis Bakx for his amazing support and commitment to the project. If there is a chance to be awarded it should be him and his collaborators. However we failed to see similar outreach to South Rotterdam. Among all participants and organizers we failed to see more then a few local people of color and failed to meet a single of Moroccan origin. Many said that this was due to the fact that Rotterdam LGBTQ community has a bit of segregation and class/ethnicity discrimination within itself. I hope you can consider this as issue for the future work and the support you give to the local projects with homosexual agenda.

I personally feel, as an experienced sport organizer and frequent academic visitor to the Netherlands, that contracted professionals and highest management did not do as good work in many areas. Their internal functioning did not apear to be in any way democratic or supported by wider Rotterdam LGBTQ community. Local sport and culture people especially complained about this, as well as a quite a few Rotterdam EuroGames project initiators and pioneers that were removed from their position in the process of organizing due to personal disagreement with director. I myself was willing to commit to the cultural production work with EuroGaames 2011 (my PhD in Arts is dealing with topic of Queering of Sport), but instead of being professionally supported or refused I was asked for sex by director Hans van Dop in the moment when I was trying to negotiate it. This reduced my artistic involvement to independent ROODKAPJE Gallery.

I am writing you about this only now as I feel this is beyond singular incident and beyond just me as a person being affected by this and similar situations. For many reason overal event wasn't seen by the European LGBTQ sport community as a memorable success, failing to deliver some of the spirit, atmosphere or the big expectations of professionalism many had since the news that City of Rotterdam awarded 2.100.000eur of support. For the record no previous city has done so to this extent before for EuroGames and 2012 host Budapest will actually have zero financial support from the right-wing city government. I hope your support to the progressive ideas of LGBTQ sport will continue by supporting local initiatives that work equally in and with Dutch immigrants, natives and expats.

Warm regards and Best Wishes,
Željko Blaće