1953 • Suzan Daniel

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Suzan Daniel

1953

The beginning of the LGBTI+ movement in Belgium is widely associated with the figure of Suzan Daniel (1918-2007). Under this pseudonym, the lesbian activist Suzanne De Pues started up the first Belgian group for gays and lesbians, the Cultural Centre Belgium (CCB). This was in 1953, when social pressures were such that they still forced people to opt for pseudonyms and give innocuous names to their organizations. The purpose of the CCB was not political activism but community building: the organization sought to provide a safe haven for same-gender-loving men and women who wanted to meet each other and engage in cultural activities together.

Unfortunately, not only homophobia but also sexism was still strong in those years. As a result, Daniel soon found herself isolated as the single woman on the board. One year after she launched the CCB, she was already kicked out of the group by the men. Such gender imbalances would continue to haunt the LGBTI+ movement for decades to come, and their lingering effects may sometimes still be felt. That the Belgian LGBTI+ movement was pioneered by a woman remains remarkable by international standards.

Daniel disappeared from view for a long time, but when in 1996 the first Belgian LGBTI+ archive and documentation center was founded, it was given the name of Suzan Daniel Foundation to honor her memory. She was happy to support the archive until her death in 2007; it continues under her name to this very day.

Suzan Daniel ⓒ Fonds Suzan Daniel
Suzan Daniel ⓒ Fonds Suzan Daniel

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