The new Suzan Daniel bridge pays tribute to an LGBTQ pioneer

This Tuesday, 4 October, Brussels will officially have one more bridge – a footbridge, to be exact – which spans the canal, connecting Tour et Taxis to Gare du Nord.

This new work of art, which is of strategic importance, was not placed there by chance – it shortens the crossing time on foot and by bike for commuters going from the Gare du Nord to Tour and Taxis. Importantly, it will also open up the housing that is springing up like mushrooms in this rapidly changing district.

In the years to come, the footbridge will also be used for the passage of a new tram line, in addition to the bus lane that it will accommodate upon opening.

Honouring an LGBTQ pioneer

Beyond reducing the north-south divide often attributed to the canal, the new bridge honours an LGBTQ pioneer of Brussels.

The footbridge is named after Suzan Daniel – a pioneer in the defence of the rights of LGBTQ people in Belgium.

Born in 1918, Suzan Daniel became the first female film critic in Belgium. Although her name at birth was Suzanne De Pues, her pseudonym was inspired by the first name of actress Danielle Darrieux.

Active in the queer community of Brussels in the 1930s, she gradually became the leader of a movement that sought public recognition for queer people.

In 1953, Suzan Daniel took part in the International Committee for Sexual Equality in Amsterdam. Returning from the Netherlands, she decided to found the Belgian Cultural Center (CCB) – the first official queer group in Belgium. The CCB organised social and cultural events for the city’s queer community.

Suzan Daniel sought to focus more on political activism, but met with resistance from within her movement – often due to the sexism she experienced within the male-dominated organisation. This led to Suzan stepping away from the activities of the CCB.

In 1954, the CCB was renamed Center de loisirs et culture by the remaining men, and gradually became French-speaking and male-focused.

In 1996, an LGBTQ archive fund was created and named in homage to Suzan Daniel.