Thank you for friendly letter and your understanding that lesbians, gay men, queer, heterosexual people and others in the Organizing Committee and around have been working hard and in full faith to organize the historic Belgrade Pride Parade 09, the second since 2001.
But, in the last week things got more complicated. Shop owners who were supposed to provide electricity for the parade said they were afraid to do so, and pulled out. The Parade scenario had flying of balloons on the Republic Square - in remembrance of all the brave people from the 2001 Belgrade Pride! But the driver of the special bus that was supposed to carry the helium balloons also said he was scared, and canceled his driving task.
These are just a few examples of what we’ve been up against. On one hand the papers were full of promises from the state: yes they are ready to protect us. On the other hand, the threats from thousands of neo-Nazis were noted daily in the papers and on the Internet with the ultimate message “WE WANT YOUR BLOOD!!!” (all messages seen in Sarajevo last year). Therefore the fear was mounting in just about everybody, including police and the state.
So, in the dawn of the fiesta, the state said we shall protect you, but only if you go to the valley near river, where, by the way, Milosevic delivered his famous fascist speech and afterwards the folk diva Ceca, the widow of the war criminal, performed at a historic concert for 70,000 people!
This meant, the state told us: you cannot walk the streets of your city. It meant the state gave in to the fascist threats, gave up lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans and queer citizens of theirs!!
This meant we wanted to believe that yes we can work together with the state, and they told us - no we do not want it!! No minister wanted to walk with the Belgrade Pride Parade 2009 including the Minister for Human Rights and Minorities!!
Yes, all people in the organizing committee have been extremely brave and consistent in their politics. Two lesbians made documentaries about their experiences of coming out in a way that was not seen in such scale in our language!!! BRAVO!!! In the last three days there were at least seven TV shows and documentaries in which members of the Organizers demanded the state to act responsibly!
As a lesbian and supporter of organizers, I wish to add my voice congratulating their spectacular efforts to challenge a homophobic state!
Lepa Mladenovic, is GFW’s Advisor in Serbia and one of the first lesbian activists in the country and one of the founders of the first lesbian group in Serbia. To date the Global Fund has supported 42 groups in Serbia, with over $1.2 million in grant support.