Author - Nemanja Stijak

The Play “Queer Cafe: Hear Our Voices” Held at the Pride Info Center

Launched by American artist and activist Joan Lipkin, with her creative team of Pavle Menalo (producer), Borisav Matić (dramaturg), and Ellen Schaeffer (transcription). Created based on the true stories of many Queer Cafe sessions, this show covers topics ranging from discovering one's sexuality to dating, family, school, church, business, marriage, and hope for the future.

It presents the perspectives of people from Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Slovenia and other places in the region. A strong imprint is left by the actors as they move through the various characters from topic to topic. 

The performance was followed by interaction with the audience. They shared very positive opinions in the full hall of the Pride Info Center. The show is designed so that when it comes to interacting with the audience, the audience can also connect with each other. The performance is also for people outside the community who can hear something new and thus be educated about the experiences of their friends or family members who may be part of the community.

Joan's main goal was to bring people together and make new friendships within the community, as well as to educate through real life examples for people outside the community, and those who succeeded in the first time during Belgrade Pride Week.

Join us and revisit this short performance on September 14th at 8pm at the Pride Info Center.

 

Autor: Joan Lipkin

Mr Tree: from Stonewall to Belgrade

Belgrade’s Pride Info Centre had the pleasure of hosting Fredd E. "Tree" Sequoia – an LGBT+ activist and participant of the Stonewall riots in New York. 

A bartender at the Stonewall Inn, Tree was witness to the very moment that ignited the LGBT+ cause, the police raid and the subsequent riots which unfolded on 28 June 1969. He told a packed crowd at the Pride Info Centre that “nobody expected that such an uprising would result that night and the ripple effect it had on the LGBT+ cause worldwide...I had never broken windows. I never shook a police car. It was so much fun being dangerous”

The popularly-known Mr Tree continued by drawing parallels with the struggle in the late 60s, and the ongoing fight for LGBT+ rights in the Western Balkans. “What we were experiencing then, is pretty comparable with what you (activists in the region) are going through now. You guys here are like one big family and reminds me a lot of the atmosphere we had built around Stonewall”

The session with Tree was one of 70 activities occurring during Pride Week in Belgrade. Pride Week is taking place between 9-15 September, and will conclude with the Pride March on Sunday 15 September at 17h on Slavija square, Belgrade. 

Pride Caravan hits cities across Serbia

As part of Pride Week 2019 and our campaign to show that LGBT+ persons live in every part of Serbia, Belgrade Pride launched a Pride Caravan to visit towns and cities across the country. The goal of these smaller marches is to show solidarity with everyone who is prevented from expressing themselves because of the place they live in, and find it hard to speak out about their sexual orientation.

Pride Caravan visited a number of cities in Serbia, including Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Zrenjanin, Subotica, Sabac and Novi Sad, but sadly didn’t pass without incidents. On two ocaission they needed to be cancelled as right wing groups threatened members of Pride caravan with messages as "This isn't Belgrade, go back where you came from". 

On the bright side, in many cities passers-by greeted the activists with support and congratulated them on their courage to walk proudly with dignity in less developed parts of the country. The whole campaign marked the beginning of the fight for equality for all people in Serbia no matter who they are, where they live and who they love. The main goal is to promote freedom of expression and show LGBT+ persons across the country that they are not alone no matter where they live. Everyone should walk proudly and freely in their own cities. Several similiar actions and activities are planned for the future.

Autor: Ana Milić

Apply for Media Accreditation for Belgrade Pride 2019

The process for obtaining media accreditation for the upcoming Belgrade Pride has been launched. 

The main Belgrade Pride march will start from Sunday 15 September at Slavija square, central Belgrade, at 17h. However, press are encouraged to arrive up-to an hour early in order to obtain interviews from organisers and activists. The deadline for submitting requests for media accreditation expires on Thursday 12th at 12pm for local press, and up until Sunday 10am for international press. Journalists are invited to submit their applications here: 

The Pride March will continue through the streets of central Belgrade, before concluding with a final concert in Manjez park.  The main theme of the march will be ‘ne odricem se’ (I will not renounce), where we underline a personal and social note that we are not giving up on our loved ones, our values, equality, freedom and justice.

Please be aware that each year we handle dozens of accreditation requests from both local and international media, so please ensure to apply on-time. In case you have any difficulties please email [email protected] or call Philip: +381649391215

The Queer Cafe: Hear Our Voices from the Balkans

About the Queer Cafe

Join us for this free short performance of The Queer Cafe: Hear Our Voices from the Balkans  on Thursday September 12 from 4-6 pm and Saturday September 14 from 8-9 pm at the Pride Info Centre (Kralja Milana 20, Beograd).

 Conceived by noted U.S. theatre artist and social activist Joan Lipkin and based on real life conversations from the Pride Info Center’s Queer Cafe, this piece covers such topics as early attraction, coming out, family, school, church, work, marriage, and hopes for the future. It features perspectives from Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Slovenia, and other parts of the region.

It is available in both English and Serbian, translated by Borisav Matić and Pavle Menalo. 

About Joan Lipkin


2019 marks the 30th anniversary of “Some of My Best Friends Are. . .”, the first piece of gay and lesbian theatre ever produced in Missouri. Written, directed and produced by Joan Lipkin, with music and lyrics by Tom Clear, it was initially denied coverage by the St Louis Post-Dispatch because they said it was not appropriate for a family newspaper. Despite that, the show sold out every performance, was voted Best Play of the Year by the Riverfront Times, called attention to Missouri’s Sexual Misconduct Law, featured on network television and was produced throughout North America.

It established Lipkin as a serious social activist, theatre artist, and LGBTQ+ activist who went on to do projects with gay men, queer youth and their families, produce an award winning festival of LGBTQ+ short plays, establish a queer playwriting award , one of the first queer performance arts series in the US, an educational theatre piece to corporations and schools, facilitate a free writing workshop for transgender and non-binary people, publish her own plays, receive numerous commissions and much more.

Her work has been produced in both major professional spaces such as New York City’s Lincoln Center, Montreal’s Places des Artes, Glasgow’s Glasgay and London’s Old Vic as well as numerous universities and community spaces.

The recipient of many awards including a Visionary, Bravely, Arts Innovator of the Year, Ethical Humanist of the Year, Leadership for Community-based Theatre and Civic Engagement among others, she has tirelessly used the arts to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, is a bridge-builder within and outside the community, an outstanding public speaker and beloved and respected in the American human rights and theatre communities.

Autor: Joan Lipkin 

  

Pride Week: Grand Opening

Pride Week 2019 was officially launched on Monday with an opening ceremony at the City of Belgrade’s National Assembly. It will last from September 9th to the 15th, ending with the Pride March and a concert in “Manjež” park on Sunday.

Jovanka Todorović, representing the Organizational board of Belgrade Pride, opened this year’s Pride Week and gave an overview of all the important events that will take place. She then invited two proud moms, Gordana Perunović Fijat and Cveta Popović, who participated in the campaign “Ne odričem se” (“I do not renounce”). Movingly, they spoke about how proud they were of their children, and that their children’s sexual orientation should never be an obstacle for a parent’s love. “I, Cveta Popović, do not renounce my son because of who he loves. In fact, I’m proud of his bravery to be who he is, despite societal pressures.” 

Goran Miletić and Marko Mihailović, fellow members of the Organizational board, spoke about the political messages of the “I do not renounce” campaign, as well as Belgrade’s candidature to host EuroPride in 2022. Goran Miletić added that, even though there is progress in improving the LGBT+ community’s position, members of the community still suffer violence. The demands of Belgrade Pride are the adoption of the law for registered same-sex partnerships, the law for gender identity, a fast and adequate reaction from the state organs and public conviction of government representatives for hate speech and hate crimes towards the LGBT+ community., the adoption of local action plans for the LGBT+ community, an apology to all Serbian citizens who were up until 1994 legally and in other ways, prosecuted for their sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, the organizers state that the bid for EuroPride is significant not only for Belgrade, but for the entire region. It shows that the Balkans can live in peace and love in spite of our differences and past conflicts.

At the end, Pride volunteer Danja Drndarski talked about her personal experience of volunteering. “Being surrounded by those who support you at any moment, regardless of who you love, is of immeasurable value, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support.” 

A few cuts through the red ribbon, and Pride Week is officially under way. 

Law on same-sex marriage without support in the Parliament of Montenegro

Homosexual couples will still not be able to marry in Montenegro, since the Sexual Partnership Law on Persons of the Same Sex has not received the required majority in parliament, although it has been proposed by the Government. 

Members of minority parties were against the law. 

Montenegrin non-governmental organizations estimated that the failure to adopt the Law on the Life Partnership of Persons of the Same Sex had defeated the democratic process in Montenegro and the European path. 

The opposition Social Democratic Party called on the Government to propose the bill again, as its MPs would vote for him if they were in parliament today. 

The SDP boycotted today's session in protest of yesterday's punishment of its deputy for alleged political flats, which he alleged violated rules of procedure. 

If the bill had passed, gay people would have the same rights as heterosexual couples. 

The bill does not explicitly stipulate that gay persons can adopt children, but it does allow them to take care of one of the partners children together. 

The proposal also provided that gay persons could marry, inherit one another, have joint property, the right to retirement and social security, visits to hospitals, care for children together, but also the obligation to care for their child partners if there is no close relative. 

It was also provided that a partner other than the child's parent must support the children of the other partner if they do not have relatives who are legally required to support them or the relatives are unable to do so. 

The obligation of the partner would also exist after the death of the child's parents. 

The bill provided the right for a gay person's partner, in an emergency, when the child is in immediate danger, to make the decision that is best for the child. 

Source: http://rs.n1info.com

On September 15th I am walking for my family!

We usually say that parental love is unconditional. But, to be honest, to whom do we place more conditions than our children? Who do we expect most from than our own children? But, sooner or later, we face them and see that our children have become humans and that they may have completely different intentions, desires and expectations than ours. They are no longer young. Candy and fairy tales are a thing of the past. Our kids make money. Pay the bills. They fall in love. They are changing the world. These adults, with their desires, love and orientation, are our children and we love them, and we love them as much as we accept them. And when they leave us, and when they no longer need a penny from us, they need our love and our support. 

Yes, we love our children. We love all our children and no matter what. This is a phrase we often reach for, but what about when it's put to the test? What about when we find out that our children are of a different sexual orientation or gender identity? I passed that test and that's why I'm proud of myself and my daughter. 

As a mother, I think children need to know that as parents, we truly love them. So I want to invite you to be with them at Pride this year. May we proudly take a walk on September 15th with ours and any children who may not have received parental support. Let's see them and let them see us! May we all see that we love and support our children, their partners, their friends, their love, their happiness and their lives in joy and freedom. Let everyone see that we are there and that we are here. 

Make the support real and visible. We are here for everyone who participates, as well as for all who are not allowed to participate and would love to. We are here to make the society we live in better. More friendly and less aggressive. More polite and less hypocritical. More tolerant and less discriminatory. We are here to one day remember for good those for whom we are here and once again say together “I do not renounce!” (I’m not giving up) 

"We will get to know each other better, maybe even get to like each other, and one day this world will become a place for people!"

Autor: Gordana Perunovic Fijat

Gordana Perunovic Fiat is a law graduate, journalist, author of three novels and a poet illegally. She has collaborated with the editorial boards of the Republic, the Helsinki Charter and the first straight-friendly magazine in Serbia - the Decko magazine. She was born in Kikinda back in 1960, where she still lives and travels to various destinations. Gordana is known as the proud mom of a lesbian. 

Announcement on the murder of activist Yelena Grigoryeva

On July 25, from 12 to 1 pm, the undersigned organizations organize a protest "Remembering Yelena Grigorieva", in front of the Russian Embassy in Belgrade. 

Russian activist Yelena Grigoryeve was killed on July 21 this year near her home in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. She was killed by being strangled to death, and then her dead body was stabbed with a knife. 

The way she was killed shows the extent to which men hate women who are not heterosexual, as well as how much homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are rooted and not being punished, but also that political activists are opposed to Putin's regime at constant risk of violence, abuse and murder. This is just another indication of how the state of Russia treats its LGBT + citizens. 

The way she was killed shows the extent of the persecution of women and lesbians in the environment of male superiority. 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the murder of human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, 13 years have passed since the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, two years have passed since the systematically organized persecution of LGBT + people in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Today's victim is an activist who has not only fought for the rights of LGBT + people, she has protested against the Russian occupation of Crimea, as well as against the torture of political prisoners in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia. 

The common denominators for all these killings are the following: 

These killings were made possible by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which creates a climate of impunity for violence in which such killings are possible. 

None of the perpetrators of these killings has been punished to this day. 

People who think differently from the ruling regime are at particular risk of threats, attacks and killings. 

We demand from the competent institutions of the State of Russia the following: 

To urgently find and punish the perpetrators of this murder. 

To cease the implementation of a law passed in 2013 that bans so-called "Homosexual propaganda." 

To allow the free and unimpeded action of all those who act to protect the human rights of all different. 

Belgrade, July 24, 2019 

Women in black 

To be clear (Da Se Zna) 

Autonomous Women's Center 

Labris - Lesbian Human Rights Organization 

Geten 

Reconstruction the women’s fund 

Youth Initiative for Human Rights 

Step out group (Grupa Izađi)

Why (don’t) we measure sexual orientation?

Sexual orientations other than heterosexual have long been observed and noted. However, we have been talking about how we know, or how we determine, who are different sexually oriented people for just over half a century. 

The first known "measurement" of sexual orientation was made by American researcher Alfred Kinsey in the mid-20th century. In short, he did the scaling on a purely practical basis - on a scale of 1 to 6 he determined the ranges from purely same-sex to purely heterosexual sexual practices. He reserved the seventh X category for people who have no emotional or sexual reactions or activities. 

The Kinsey scale was revolutionary because it was the first to touch on defining sexual orientation itself. But he faced many difficulties relatively quickly: in what exact numbers on the scale can we identify bisexual people? Is 6 divisions sufficient to cover all sexual practices? Why doesn't the last X item on the ladder reflect asexuality in its definition, since it places people without sexual activity rather than those who do not feel sexual and emotional affinity? 

Despite its many shortcomings, this scale was nevertheless a good introduction as an initial penetration into the very core of sexual orientation studies and revealed what many still find difficult to face - there are people who are not exclusively straight or gay. 

American researcher of Austrian descent Fric Klein tried to build a scale of this kind. Cline was bisexual and, amazed by the lack of theoretical material regarding his sexual orientation, he started the first support groups, studied bisexual couples, and tried to advance scaling by which sexual orientation could be determined. 

In the 1978 Bisexual Option book, he introduces a table that, in contrast to the Kinsey scale, is multidimensional. Based on 7 factors, this table has been expanded to include sexual affinity in the past, present and projected future. 

These categories include attraction, fantasies, emotional preferences, sexual activities, social and life preferences, and self-determination. 

Although definitely more accurate and advanced than Kinsey, this chart has encountered criticism and proven flaws. Some categories are unclear, emotional preferences are not precise enough, it is not clear what does sexual affinity implies... 

Later, other scales emerged, trying to be more precise: the Shiveley and De Seko scales, Sel's estimate, Friedman's measure of adolescent sexual orientation - the latest, from 2004. 

As any scaling emerged in the social sciences, criticisms and shortcomings came to light immediately. As many new dimensions, questions, different angles arise when constructing the scale, we come to illogicality and deviation. And they generally boil down to the fact that respondents are placed before the binary “completed act” - and that the numbers must determine where they are between homo and heterosexuality. 

In total, there are around 200 scales by which sexual orientation is measured. 

The problem with them is that mathematically they want to reduce practices, feelings and predictions, and people are not mathematics. Lack of practice does not mean that there is no sexual orientation. Frequent sexual practices also do not necessarily confirm her. Thoughts and fantasies are not necessarily a product of affinity. However complicated the new scale may be, it will again be flawed because people are so different that it would not be able to cover them all. 

Precision of measurement becomes less likely if we consider other, non-European cultures, that see sexual orientation in completely different categories. Also, people who see themselves outside any binary categories (queer, etc.) also cannot be classified according to any parameters. 

The fact that we will probably never be able to accurately determine one's sexual orientation should not be discouraging, but on the contrary - to put in self-determination in the grapple. 

We should not classify people between the two extremes, but strive for a society where a person can share with others who he or she is without consequences and fear. 

How we identify ourselves, not how many people we slept with and fantasies about, is the most important parameter. 

If not the only relevant one!

 

Autor: Stefan Sparavalo

Stefan was born and raised in Belgrade. He is a political science graduate by profession and has been involved in public relations, marketing and social networking for over five years. He also enjoys writing, for which he has received several awards. The first step in LGBT + activism begins with Labris' 2014 training on the political leadership of LGBT + people. He is now part of the Da Se Zna Team, where he works as a media and public relations coordinator.