MIXED EXPRESSIONS : A REPORTAGE BY RAPHAËL AND FEDERICO

LGBTQIA+ MEN AND WOMEN AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS EXPRESS THEMSELVES ON THEIR EXPERIENCES AND AMBITIONS.

Maurice MerleauPanty said that “language achieves, by breaking silence, what silence wanted and did not alter”. (Something tells me this could be formulated a bit better/more smoothly than just literally translated…then again: I’m not familiar with the works of Merleau-Panty) 

What this French philosopher seemed to mean is that by daring to break the silence to express ourselves on subjects that we keep to ourselves for a long time, we free ourselves on delicate subjects and share them with others. The “mixed expressions” project was set up in Belgium by a mixed couple of men, one of whom (Raphael) is Congolese and the other (Federico) is Italian.  The personal experiences of these two men led them to realize that the experiences of queer men and women of color lead them to encounter different difficulties than white queer people. There are a number of queer people whose socio-cultural backgrounds cause them to face difficulties that are different from white people. The way that society has been constructed makes different emotional/sexual minorities gravitate towards heterosexuality which has always been seen as the “norm.” Just as many cultures gravitate, in different fields (media, politics, art, etc.), around white models that have long been presented as the dominant reference model. The fact that one’s experience is not always recognized for what it is, whether in one’s own ethnic community or in the rest of society, weakens the personal development of those directly concerned. 

 

What better for people who have personally lived through certain types of experiences,  than daring to take the step of creating their own framework to allow themselves to express themselves on such complex and equally sensitive subjects? 

That’s why Raphael and Federico went to meet the people directly affected, to give them a voice. They wanted to share their particular experiences as LGBT+ peoplein addition to those of people from other cultures outside of Belgium in general. Daring to come out and show one’s intimacy is not easysee the different social pressures. 

The process of finding and selecting people who agreed to participate in this project took some time, given the different vulnerabilities that this population faces.
The profiles that agreed to participate in this project are varied and atypical. These individuals have agreed to open their hearts to tell us about their experiences, whether positive or negative. They also share with us their aspirations to improve things that concern queer people. 

Some of them have an artistic identity that allows other types of realities, means and methods, through which they can get their messages across.  This manifests itself through music, song, fashion, dance, photography, writing, rap, slam, etc. 

Their struggles, courage and accomplishments serve as an inspiration to others who may find themselves in them, while also seeking out their own path.  Not only outside of the LGBT+ community but also within, one comes across several (unwritten) ‘rules’, all saying which ways and forms of representation are ‘normal’, or not. Yet, simultaneously norm is something completely relative. Not all individuals recognize themselves in certain ‘shackles’, and they very well deserve to be who they are with their own uniqueness. 

There is no one way more legitimate than another to affirm and realize oneself as a queer person. Each individual is unique with his or her own background and frame of reference. This richness in diversity must be respected and valued!! 

Raphaël Kalengayi is of Congolese origin and is 34 years old. Having grown up mostly in Belgium, he has often found himself between two cultures. 

The hardships he encountered along the way have shaped the person he is today. A free spirit with the soul of an artist, he claims freedom in personal development. A social worker in the fight against AIDS, he is also a self-taught writer of supernatural fiction (horror, fantasy, science fiction) in his spare time, waiting for the right moment to publish THE good novel and THE good collection of short stories. 

Federico Ariu
is of Italian origin and is 44 years old. A self-taught artist in the field of photography, video editing and script writing, he has been directing short films, documentaries and music videos for other artists, most of whom are singers, for over 20 years.
 Independent and free-spirited, he allows others to put their own universe into images. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO EXPRESSIONSMIXTES.COM 

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