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  • Gabrielle Antar

Challenging privilege through the overlapping of multiple identities

Kevin is a non-binary autistic Portuguese-Luxembourgish creative who has been on my radar for a while. Now, doing their masters in Philosophy. I stumbled upon their reels criticizing Luxembourg’s treatment of queer people and I felt right at home. I automatically clicked follow (not the most common action after looking at some people’s profiles…).

Through my time on this infamously addictive app, I saw that they also are into theatre, with the alternative theatre collective, Richtung 22, which makes plays that question the different forms of issues in society. And, recently I also realized that they create digital art. One of their latest creative expressions is their cringe, Y2K, satiric meme page. A truly relatable and queer take on the Luxembourgish experience.

The Grand Duchy has a tendency to brag about its accomplishments, but in reality, marginalised people are not impressed by its politics. Some people here do come from immense privilege, whether in the cultural sector, or regarding class, different abilities, gender and sexual identity. And, my interviewee made it his life goal to challenge that.

Kevin, also known as Classic Lucifer, uses their art and online social media presence to start these too often characterized as “uncomfortable” conversations. Uncomfortable for people who are too comfortable. A very obvious observation of Luxembourgish society where so many people have lost touch with the true lived realities of people less fortunate than themselves.

“People don’t see my value, because I am poor, because I am queer, because I am autistic, because I am an immigrant, I lose so much social capital,” said Kevin. People don’t like to be confronted with the overlapping disadvantages based on different identities that others can face, they explain. And, once you start pointing out these faults, there is no other way to go but forward.

I wanted to use the term queerness in this article not only to insinuate an identity, but I also wanted to use it as a tool for dissecting the multiple identities that makes us, us. Queerness, in general, is defined by any performance that falls outside of the gender norms imposed by societal structures. But, it is so much more than a sexual or gender identity, it is a tool to deconstruct and rebuild what we consider normal and to finally accept and embrace everyone’s differences.

Maya Mikdashi, a pioneer in queering Middle East studies in the academic world, defines the methodology of queering as “a way of interrogating normative practices of and assumptions about race, class, the state, and the body.”

Looking at queerness helps us question the “normal” and “natural” conditions imposed upon us since birth. It helps us understand that normative social categories can be disrupted through everyday performances of resistance. Indeed, the simple fact of existing as an intersectionally queer individual (which means being queer with for example another identity or identities that you can feel discriminated against i.e. queer and a person of color) already helps to deconstruct and disrupt what society considers normal. And, in this case, this is exactly what the discussions of Kevin’s experiences and practices led us to.

“What I'm just doing is confronting [people who are unaware of their privileges] with their own lack of accountability, with their own superficiality that they fail to recognise because they're so blinded by their own greatness that they're trailblazers for things that minorities have done forever and have always been shunned for,” said Kevin.

This unawareness of privilege is very apparent in the Luxembourgish creative scene. Queerness within this scene can be used as a way to express entitlement. Many of the people who can exercise as artists can do so because they rely on the wealth of their family. Now, that is nothing bad. But, it is important to acknowledge that not many can afford to live only off of their creativity. Something Kevin and I bonded over is the fact that many creatives cannot afford to be full-time artists. When seeing all of those who are successful enough to be just an artist, we must not forget that nepotism is a huge factor in allowing people to become “successful” artists.

“As much as I love to support the local art scene […], I have to say that the creative space in Luxembourg is falling victim to the same things that all the other spheres of Luxembourg fall victim to, which is the sense of quick cash grab superficiality. Like we just need to understand stuff at the superficial basis and then we can just make something about it. And then like boom, boom, boom, you can make money out of it,” they said.

“And now all of a sudden we have these white twinks that are out there getting all the credit for being representative of the queer scene, and they're not representative of the queer scene, they are representative of the wealthy families that they come from that gave them the opportunities to be wealthy artists. […] There is more behind these cultures than just money and fame and all these things,” said Kevin.

“It's time for just a little change, especially in the creative scene. It's time to make them uncomfortable, to remind them that art is supposed to be here, to liberate, not to be a sell off,” they added.

This is where Kevin’s creative forms of expression seem different from the more traditional ones we see at expensive exhibition openings. It’s different. It’s queer. It’s cringe. Their creative expression is very diverse, from hilariously ironic reels, to alternative performances and a successful meme page. Kevin shows that there is no need to limit your creativity to one medium.

“My art is very chaotic. […] I like to do short bits because, I don't have that large of an attention span either. So I like people to give them something little, little bits that are entertaining but also informative that they can just carry on or just like just share around and be like, ‘hey, isn't this funny?’,” they said.

But, out of all of Kevin’s identities, the most discrimination they have faced was due to their poorness and Portuguese background.

“Growing up in Luxembourg, I saw myself as a minority. […] The Portuguese always had this negative light towards them. […] I never understood why because now that I see it, they're one of the most hardworking people that are here if you just ask anyone. […] It's really disheartening for me to as a child not having understood that and thinking my parents are not working hard enough, and that that's why we're poor. […] I both can be an oppressed minority and an oppressor [with a history of colonization and racism coming from my own home country],” they said.

“Also, my Portuguese and my poor identity, I kind of see them as the same because Portuguese people are generally not the wealthiest here in Luxembourg. […] And so [they are] considered the lower class people because […] but there are Luxembourgish people that also struggle with poverty because poverty is not like an immigrant and minority only issue. It also affects a lot of Luxembourgish people,” they added.

Finally as an autistic person, Kevin found the last piece of the puzzle to fully embrace themselves. “Autistic people need all the information that they can have to be fully able to be themselves. Same with Portuguese people. Same with poor people. Like it's only by knowing who you are that you can be proud of who you are and also start liberating yourself from what is preventing you to be even more who you want to be,” Kevin said.

“I have this thing where I say a lot in my mind ‘I'm autistic. I'm autistic. I'm autistic.’ Just to remind myself that I can be those things and I can behave this way because I am autistic and I'm not hurting anyone by the way that I behave. Some people might call it weird, but whatever I call them, boring.”


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