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For the men

Productiehuis De Chinezen / Xavier Taveirne
Time period: 1940-1995
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2018

Xavier Taveirne talks to the first generations of men who dared to come out as gay in Flanders. It is a moving and often disconcerting series with stories of love, struggle and pain, and the taboo of being gay in less tolerant times.


In three episodes, older gay men tell their stories uncensored. Important stories and often conversations in which they do not shy away from thorny current issues.

Three-part documentary “Voor de mannen”


Episode 1: 1940-1970
The first episode features gay men growing up in post-war Catholic Flanders. Sex was taboo for everyone, and if homosexuality was mentioned at all, people talked about ‘jeanets’. The church was also very repressive.

Xavier sought out Paul Rademaekers, now 98, who still gets angry when he thinks back to those times: “I have always said: homosexuality is not a sexual problem, but a social problem. I started with difficult cards. But even with difficult cards, you have to try to make as many assets as possible. My assets were that I always stood up for others, especially gay people.”

The first turning point came only in 1970, when Will Ferdy became the first well-known Fleming to speak on television about his “being different”. It was a shock for Flanders. Will received many negative reactions, but his courageous testimony did mark the very beginning of gay emancipation.


Episode 2: 1970-1980
The wild 1970s were also the years of sexual liberation and social change for the gay community.

Although gays – especially in rural areas – still often continued to lead a hidden life, thriving subcultures emerged in the cities with gay bars and nightclubs where anything was possible. A debauched life that everyone today thinks back to with nostalgia.

Xavier also talks to Chille De Man and Guido Totté. Guido first took to the streets with the Trotskyist Rooie Vlinder to enforce equal rights for gays and straights. An early precursor to Pride, which Chille later organised for the first time in Brussels.


Episode 3: 1980-1995
For the gay community, the 1980s were overshadowed by the rise of a new, deadly disease: AIDS.

In this episode, gay men recount the havoc wreaked by the AIDS virus. It took years before the first medication was available, and in that time many gay men became infected. Only a few of them are still alive today. One of them is Patrick Reyntiens. Xavier talks to him about those black years, when all gay people were once again fingered. “AIDS was God’s punishment for the homosexuals’ rampant behaviour”, and AIDS patients were the new plague sufferers.

Xavier also talks to Rob Scheers, who was active in the first prevention campaigns, yet later became infected himself through risky behaviour.