In the months leading up to Pim Fortuyn’s assassination, media organisations outside of the Netherlands were quick to lean on the openly gay politician’s overtly flamboyant style.
Often contained within the first few paragraphs were references to Fortuyn the dandy -“ an unabashedly foppish political character from the extreme right with a shaven head, a chauffeur- driven Daimler, two yapping toy dogs and a statuesque butler.
This portrait of Fortuyn was arguably a lucid ploy used by journalists to add colour and contradiction to the image of this often-labelled far right politician -“ a tool to accentuate the significance of Fortuyn’s stereotypical campness and its inconsistency with the image of sober right wing politics.
In stark contrast, representatives from Amsterdam’s gay and lesbian community told the Star that Fortuyn’s flamboyancy went largely unacknowledged in the Dutch press, despite Fortuyn’s recent dramatic rise in Holland’s national consciousness.
The Dutch are aware of the way Pim Fortuyn is portrayed in the foreign press, yet never once have I seen him represented like that by the Dutch press, Ian Johnson, an Australian consultant living in the Netherlands told Sydney Star Observer.
I have to say that it is a point that really shows the attitude of the Dutch sexuality. It is not an issue at all apparently and it is something I found intriguing and perhaps heartening about Dutch society.
Henk Beerten, president of COC Nederland, agreed that Fortuyn’s sexuality had never been an issue in the Netherlands.
It was never controversial at all. The only person who would use his sexuality to his advantage was himself. He was a clever politician, that’s for sure, said Beerten.
Significantly, it has been asserted that instead of being at odds with his political direction, Fortuyn’s overt homosexuality may have accentuated the politician’s appeal to the public as an anti-immigration firebrand.
He had such a large following from mainstream levels of society, Beerten said.
In a way, I think him being strict on multiculturalism and refugees and at the same time openly homosexual was an excuse for the people to follow him. You were following a homosexual, therefore obviously you were not intolerant or a racist.
Fortuyn was renowned for his candour on all things sexual, from his failure to find a life partner, to his penchant for Moroccan boys.
He did not have a partner. He had talked to the press of not having achieved -“ as he put it -“ the love of his life. Instead he would talk openly about his visits to darkrooms and he would talk about having homosexual experiences with mainly young Moroccan boys, Beerten said.
It didn’t hurt him, but any other politician would have had difficulties keeping their head above water after admitting that.
Fortuyn was a well-known face on the Dutch gay scene.
I have gone out to dinner with him and went out to clubs as well, relates gay journalist Hans Verhoeven.
One thing I would say about Fortuyn as a person is that you could never really hate him, even people that were very much against him said they liked him as a person and his approachability. You could easily disagree with him, but still have a nice chat and a drink with him. He was never too extreme in that sense.