Fear & Loathing

11.13.2012

By Ioannis Pappos

The financial crisis in Greece has seen the fortunes of the far-right Golden Dawn party soar -- along with homophobia.

At an Athens coffee shop not far from the Golden Dawn’s headquarters, I met Paola Revenioti, a famous Greek transgender activist, prostitute, and poet who fought in the queer wars in the ’70s and ’80s by launching Kraximo, the first gay magazine, and staging the first Gay Pride in Athens.

“Nobody will ever come out in Greece,” Revenioti said. “Because before globalization, everybody was more or less gay.” That got my attention. “When you Americans came up with all these terms -- gay, top, bottom, bi -- Greek men stopped fucking each other because they didn’t want to be labeled,” she said.

“Of all people, I’d expect you to value fraternity and identity, and call things by their name,” I said.

“Camaraderie here is different,” Revenioti said. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud. We just talk a different talk. The first two words a foreigner learns in Greece are malakas and poustis. Both have different meanings than they did originally. Poustis meant ‘faggot.’ Poustia means ‘snitching, fraud,’ as well as ‘pleasure’ and ‘intensity.’ ‘I’m so hungry I’ll eat a like poustis,’ guys say all the time. ‘How does a poustis eat?’ I ask them. ‘With pleasure. They know how to enjoy it,’ they answer. Greeks always liked fucking guys. They just can’t talk about it.”

“What about the guys who used to get fucked? Can they talk about it?” I said. “Coming out is important for self-respect. It is self-respect.”

“Are you out?” Revenioti asked me.

“Yes.”

“Here? In Greece?”

“Yes--” I took a moment. “Though I didn’t come out until I left Greece,” I said timidly, as if being caught cheating on an exam.

I got in touch with a paramilitary expert who asked to remain anonymous. He named a half-dozen Golden Dawn “cousin” organizations, some with even more hard-core mantras, that were initially established as gyms or hiking clubs, fronts by right- and left-wing fanatics to “arm, train, and brainwash 20-year-olds that some kind of apocalypse is coming,” he described.

“Who are these kids? They can’t just be uneducated,” I said.

“They are repressed. They are so submissive that they ask Mihaloliakos [the head of the Golden Dawn] before they get a girlfriend.”

“Could there be self-hating closeted homosexuals there?” I asked.

“Are you kidding? The first thing a person attacks in another is what he perceives as his own shortcoming,” he replied.

He introduced me to a twentysomething who used to belong to one of these groups and now writes about the broader ethnic front under a pseudonym.

“I believe in nationalism,” he told me, invoking numbers and theories: 6 million immigrants among 10.5 million Greeks, crime-tourism from Romania, arsons by foreign spies.

“Are these documented?” I asked.

“Don’t be na├»ve. They’re covered up.”

“Let’s talk about what I found on your party’s website,” I said -- “ex-party,” I apologized. I began translating: “People with alcoholism, drug addiction, epilepsy [and other conditions] must be sterilized. Homosexuality is a socially degenerate state. Natural selection, sterilization, and euthanasia are the right choices when combined with legal guarantees, responsible medical monitoring, and bioethics.” I stopped for a reaction. Nothing. “Do you endorse any of the above?”

“I’ve no problem with what people do in their homes, in their beds. I just don’t want them to provoke me.”

“How do gay people provoke you, exactly?” I asked.

“By advertising their homosexuality in public,” he replied.

“So a gay couple kissing in public is sexual provocation, but a straight couple doing the same is not?” I said.

“For me. Communists feel the same. Anyway, the things you cited need updating. Intellectuals must join the ethnic front.”

My ultimate fear.

Yannis Triantafyllou, author of The Last Greek and a member and ambassador of the Golden Dawn, joined the party when he was 17 to “protect the honorable.” He seemed genuinely pleased to meet me, and for 20 minutes he went on about the damage Greeks have inflicted on Greece since World War II.

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