Ringing through the squares and halls of Zagreb, Croatia, you may hear the sound of the country’s one-of-a-kind, lesbian feminist A Cappella choir, Le Zbor. A Croatian group based in the capital, Zagreb, Le Zbor, bridges the gap between art and activism, fearlessly and elegantly, delivering their original and unusual repertoire along with their feminist messages to Zagreb’s cultural scene.
The group was formed in 2005 by a small group of former choir members who, in response to their experiences of homophobia and patriarchal leadership, chose to create a new choral group that would not only produce fantastic music but also serve as an inclusive LGBTIQ safe space and a platform for political activism. Homophobia is pervasive throughout the Balkans, including Croatia.
Discrimination and violent crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation are difficult and constant struggles faced by LGBTIQ women and men in Croatia. The denial of lesbian identities in Croatia is just one issue Le Zbor seeks to challenge through its music. Today, Le Zbor has 10 members, an eclectic repertoire, and a beloved reputation both as an integral member of Zagreb’s LGBTIQ and women’s movements, and as a unique entity on Zagreb’s cultural map. Le Zbor’s innovation extends far beyond its original musical arrangements and performances.
Through its work, Le Zbor is taking on issues of gender and homophobia in Croatian society, utilizing new media and popular art to engage its peers in different forms of civic and political participation. The choir concentrates its performances in “socially-engaged events” and “alternative cultural happenings,” ensuring that its unique sound and messages of inclusion, and disapproval of all forms of discrimination are heard through its music.
According to Le Zbor, “Certain types of music, that is—lyrics in combination with the right moment—can transmit a strong political message, one that is coded in a language that everybody is able to understand.” Through its music, Le Zbor questions heteronormativity and enables a more critical analysis of patriarchy, gender roles, gender stereotypes and homophobia in Croatian culture and society.
Since its formation in October 2005, the choir has performed at many venues, including many LGBTIQ and women’s events such as FemFest, International Women’s Day Celebration, Queer Zagreb Festival, International Conference on Trafficking, and has for visiting Global Fund staff! The choir’s broad repertoire ranges from otherwise-neglected revolutionary songs to rock and pop songs about women to Macedonian folk songs. Watch Le Zbor perform one of their most popular tracks called “Moj de_ko je gej” (“My boyfriend is gay”). Visit Lezbor on the web!
Photo on top right hand corner: Former Global Fund advisor Marta Drury with members of Le Zbor.