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Archive for the ‘homosexuality’ Category

Rumania, Rumania…lost like the song

Posted by E on May 21, 2015

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I’m writing this post while listening to the old Yiddish song, Rumania Rumania. It’s full of nostalgia for a homeland that has been lost and now forgotten, for its sweet wines, hearty cooks and pretty girls – I’m including a YouTube link to the song at the bottom of this post.

My birthplace. My original homeland. The apex of so much pain, grief and longing. A place that has suffered a thousand years of wars, invasions, pogroms, oppression and terror, and is still in transition. Where it will end up in another century, I have no idea. It is a place I love and hate all at the same time, for so many reasons that are all intertwined so tightly in my heart that I could never fully separate the individual strings and emotions which, like arterial veins, crisscross my connection to this place.

Elisa AteneuElisa haystack Romania2015

Romania is a painfully beautiful, lost country. From the moment you set foot within its borders, everybody from taxi drivers to people sitting on a park bench will tell you about the endemic government corruption, how the rich have ransacked the country and left the poor to despair. But what they don’t tell you, as they cling to the Orthodox religion with hateful fervour, is how religion and xenophobia has poisoned their own hearts.

Bucharest’s Gay Pride parade is on Saturday and already the hate and frenzy has begun online – on several blogs I’ve read people suggesting plans to attack the demonstrators in the name of Jesus and morality. Ever since the Revolution of 1989, the Orthodox Church has been growing in influence and, not coincidentally, so has hostility toward any change in humanitarian rights. Homosexuality has been legalized only since 1996 and to this day (despite having been part of the EU since 2007) Romanian courts still have not granted any form of recognition toward same-sex couples. Forget marriage – they don’t even acknowledge the union between a same-sex couple. Gays can’t adopt. Gays can’t donate blood. For all intents and purposes, gays cannot exist as gay without violent opposition.

I found it telling that, in contrast to North American Pride parades that celebrate fun, diversity and having a great time, the local brochure printed by Accept Romania to describe the march is focused on preventing attacks: after the march, make sure to walk away in pairs. Don’t wear things that can identify you for attack. Meet and leave via the metro, rather than on foot. In Romania, taking part in the Pride Parade is an act of defiance, of insurgency, of rebellion. It is the very definition of courage.

LGBT people here are literally prepared to fight for their rights, to risk being filmed on television and fired the next day, to risk being struck with stones and boots – something that we in the West take for granted. The Stonewall riots of 1969 are hardly on our minds as we walk down the street holding hands with our lovers, shoot our water guns and wear rainbow-coloured necklaces during our Gay Pride weekend street parties. It reminds me of the early days of suffragettes – where women who fought for the right to vote were assaulted on the streets and demonized in the press.

Stonewall-Riots-June-28-1969 

anti-gay protesters romania anti-gay-manifestations-romania

The Romanian public’s rampant hostility and religious fervour, along with the idea that “We’re not the sinful West, we don’t have many of THOSE kinds over here” (actual words I’ve read on a blog today) is partially fed by ignorance. They don’t realize that gay people are everywhere, including in their own families, because most gays and lesbians rightfully fear coming out to their families and coworkers. How can they, when they live in a country where gays are often called “sodomites” by people who also refer to Jews as “jidani” and openly express contempt toward those of a different ethnicity (i.e. the Roma people). People here have been beaten, assaulted, sentenced to prison and murdered for their right to love.

On a personal level, it disturbs me how many of my own relatives are so brainwashed by dogma that there is nothing left between us. It’s disturbing how a cousin told me a long time ago that she’d prefer if one of her sons died than become a “poponar” (a derogatory term for gay males). Why should it matter to someone, who I love and choose to live with? Who I sleep with is none of her business – just as I don’t care whether she still has sex with the ugly, irascible, xenophobic husband of whom she often complained. Why is her opinion, anybody’s opinion in fact, more important and valid than mine – who appointed her judge and executioner? How can love for your own child be overwritten by such deep-seated hatred for homosexuality that you’d rather he or she died than be free to love whoever they want?

It’s disturbing how easily the previously oppressed have become oppressors. It’s a process I am still working on capturing in my new book, a process that was recently featured on Romanian news.

So for the record, for the sake of any relatives or former classmates who stumble onto this page: I am and have ALWAYS been gay. I love my partner deeply and I am also proud of my East European background. I am not sick, nor am I confused. The abuse (from both genders) that I experienced as a child has nothing to do with my sexual orientation as an adult. And I promise you that I’m not the only lesbian you’ve ever met. In fact, there are people in your own family, at work, sitting on the bus next to you, people just like you, who are attracted to the same sex.

In the end, I will ALWAYS side with love over hate. I will ALWAYS choose love and human rights over allegiance to blood and nation. And if you’d rather choose Jesus over accepting me, my life, my Jewish religion and my chosen spouse, then I am sorry for you but don’t need your judgement in my life. I don’t want to lose hope, but feel that it will take several generations to wipe out the hate I’ve witnessed over here.

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Posted in hate, history, homosexuality, ignorance, love, news, personal, religion, romania | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Where are all the gay romanians?

Posted by E on January 7, 2008

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Where in the world are all the gay Romanians hiding? Come on, deal with the times, people – being gay has been decriminalized since 1989! It’s time for all those closet doors to bang wide open. Why are they not?

Following up on my last post about growing up under communism, I reflected on the legacy that has been passed down: one of hatred and fear of people who are different. Romanians are among the most intolerant people in Europe when it comes to gays, gypsies, and basically anyone who stands out from the self-imposed norm.

Until the 1989 Revolution, homosexuality was illegal and punishable with a 5-year mandatory prison sentence at hard labour. Since communism was toppled, however, the laws against gays were lifted, but in name only. I know there have been queer marches in Bucharest, and that there is a club or two out there. But there is virtually no internet presence to speak of.

There are plenty of sites that talk about Romanian gays, but they are written and hosted by foreigners. So where are all the Romanian gays and lesbians? What is attributable to their silence? Perhaps a combination of lack of computer skills and fear of retribution from friends and neighbours (since homosexuals have very likely taken over the number 1 most villified group in Romania, toppling the long-standing champions of that title, the Roma people, closely followed by jews and hungarians).

But whether I look online, on Facebook, on any of the other social-networking sites, there is a distinct absence of Romanian gays and lesbians.

The “New Right”, smugly claiming philosophical lineage from Eminescu and various other historical intellectuals, have marched and attacked gay parades, trying to cover up their hatred with an appeal to religion and questionable science of the sort that goes something like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But just like all through Eastern Europe, skinheads, neo-fascists and even staunch supporters of the old communist regime have banded together calling for “normalcy”, displaying Christian symbols (what else is new?) and ranting about “we don’t want to be a nation of faggots.” I guess they have to cling to such delusions, since they’ve lost the battle over the fact that the rest of Europe sees Romania as “a nation of gypsies.” Just ask any Italian. But I digress.

The point is – where is the gay presence in Romania? Where are the websites, the online journals, the activist logs? Romania is a deeply anti-gay country, and it will stay that way until people realize that gays are not some weird creatures who stand in the shadow of street corners, trying to corrupt their children. They ARE their children, their relatives, their spouses, their co-workers, their friends. It is only fear that keeps people from living authentic lives.

This week I decided to finally write my cousin in Romania, a woman who has been pestering me to keep in touch and write more often. There was a time when she wrote only to complain and ask for money, and I usually sent it to them whenever I could. But as of late, she has been asking me more questions that I have hesitated to answer. The point is, the woman is a bigot. I remember going back to visit several years ago, and being increasingly tired of her spewing rants against the gypsies and the “poponari.” I didn’t want to stay in touch more than the occasional holiday card or two.

But finally, I wrote back and told her exactly why I didn’t feel compelled to write back often, and how this had more to do than just the simple fact that my Romanian is somewhat shitty, especially when I try to express myself – after all, I left when I was 10.

So there we have it. I’ve done my contribution to come out. I only wish I could help out in the Romanian gay community, but I can’t do much at all if there is no community beyond guys cruising in the parks.

There has to be more, there has to be more done or nothing is going to change.

http://www.owlspotting.com/2006/06/06/romania-is-so-not-gay/ – This is a cool article that I just stumbled onto while I was looking for a romanian gay presence on the web. I encourage you to read it. But one of the best parts of it is this quote:

Romanians will deny they have an aversion to gays. They will go even further and deny any form of intolerance. They might even tell you the idea that Romanians can be intolerant is part of a Western smear campaign against our country. Romanians don’t hate gays. Nor do they hate gypsies, Hungarians or blacks. They just don’t believe any of these groups are really necessary for the country to function. After all, if God intended for the Romanian people to be Hungarian black gypsies attracted to people of the same sex, he would have passed on that memo to the Orthodox Church leadership.

Romania may hide under the EU blanket, or claim that globalization has broadened the horizons of its people, but reality remains as ugly and unobstructed as always. And the only way to change things is for all its gays and lesbians to come out of the woodwork and live their lives without shame or regret.

The only site I could find on the subject is Accept’s site: http://www.accept-romania.ro/ It is well-meaning, but half of the sites in the Links section are to porn sites. Great.

Are there any Romanian gays or lesbians out there in the blogosphere? on the net? helloooooooooooooooooooooooo………………

Are there also any Roma gays or lesbians? hellooooooooooo to you as well. Please feel free to write! The only mention of roma gays is on this site: http://www.globalgayz.com/g-romania.html

If you know of any cool Romanian lesbian or gay blogs or sites (and no, not porn), please add them here and I’ll link to them. Thanks 🙂

Posted in activism, blog, communism, culture, freedom, gay, homosexuality, ignorance, lesbian, politics, rant, revolution, romania | 10 Comments »