CRVENI VEZ // RED EMBROIDERY // Queer Archive documentary movie

CRVENI VEZ // RED EMBROIDERY // Queer Archive documentary movie


Go miners from Breza and Zenica! Go hungry! We will not give up Bosnia! Where’s Hari? Where’s Hari?
Hari, you alive? (SLURRED) Yes, yes, I’m alright! Help! Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh! Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh!
Muḥammadun rasūlu llāh! Muḥammadun rasūlu llāh! Allāhu akbar! Allāhu akbar! Kill, kill, kill the faggot, faggot, faggot! (SLURRED) This is Serbia! And all Hell did burn in flames,
better watch out, you infidels! We can say with certainty now,
this is war. It’s war against the innocent, against our children,
and war against all of us. I had made it perfectly clear that I didn’t flee Sarajevo
because my Muslim neighbors forced me. I fled Sarajevo because Serb volunteers entered
Rajlovac and started bombing my house. So, later on, the war broke out, and my life
completely changed. When I became involved with LGBT* activism, everything was feasible. Everything was absolutely feasible! When people told me:
‘It’s impossible!’ I said: ‘Everything is possible! THIS is ALL possible!’ The lesbian movement of Yugoslavia started
from the feminist movement, and I see it as a key point. It’s a fact that the feminist movements in Europe emerged in the same way during the
1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It was in 1978. It took us three years to organize a huge international feminist conference. It was called Comrade Woman. Comrade Woman was an expression of
communist equality, but not as women. Furthermore, this really was a declaration of our existence, we really did exist back then, and it was also a declaration of our willingness to do something about inequality. What’s also important is that the conference
was organized by women intellectuals, anthropologists, such as
Rada Iveković, Žarana Papić, and women journalists like Slavenka Drakulić, and Nada Ler. In my example, so, I’m Marina Gržinić, and this activism,
when defined further, is connected with 35 or even more years of work. In what sense? In the sense that it stems from the idea of forming a subcultural
community and alternative culture in Ljubljana. This formation is highly important since it’s related
to the influence of punk, which started here at the same time it appeared
in the wider European context. And it’s associated with emancipatory politics. So, activism is not directed against socialism, but it is for socialism, in the sense that we can really
make the best of some political program. It meant emancipatory platform for everyone. When it comes to Ljubljana, there was support
from the feminist group called Lilit. We all started from the same group, really. It was in the framework of this group that our
lesbian group LL was formed. In April 1984, the idea to organize a festival called
Magnus – Homosexuality and Culture was born. Like Tatjana Greif said, this was a total
revolution, even for the West. In fact, to actually define the framework so clearly
hadn’t been done before. That particular way of thinking! So, 1984 was the beginning. It meant
the coming out of the entire Eastern Europe. The feminist conference was actually initiated by Lilit, not as much by LL. Well, I mean,
it was a joint initiative. And it was the very first feminist conference. It was held in Ljubljana. It was also the first
conference where we presented our lesbian group and where we all started
the discussion on the importance of connecting the feminist and lesbian movement
in all of the republics of Yugoslavia. At the time, it was only us from
Zagreb, Belgrade and Ljubljana, while only a couple of individual women
from Sarajevo joined us later on. The turning point was that on the last day of the conference, we made certain conclusions. We sat in a small room and all of this was probably
spontaneous, although we were all hyped. We said: ‘We can’t leave this gathering just like that!’ This meant we needed some concrete conclusions. Then we sat down and stated: ‘We, the feminists of Yugoslavia,
we’re going to work on this, this and this.’ And it was wonderful because, after all, it was the first time we named
male violence against women. And we agreed that we would work on setting up
SOS helplines for women in every city in Yugoslavia. Then we said that we would work on reproductive rights,
women’s role in politics… And then came the following announcement: “We’re going to
form lesbian groups in all cities of our country.” So, what was important? Firstly, we said and agreed that every city should have its own
lesbian group. And this was really easy to say, somehow… For us, it really seemed feasible back then. Secondly, we gave each other a promise.
It was the beginning of sisterhood. You actually agree upon what your part is in changing
this world because this kind of world is not for you. In the Student Cultural Center we had
Woman and Society feminist group. I have to say that I wasn’t really interested
in some of the issues it had dealt with. I was interested in issues of militarism, for example,
and subsequently antimilitarism. It was important for me to participate in all campaigns
related to abolishing mandatory military service since I think that men who refuse to serve
any military structure are our allies. Therefore, it was easy for me to make a stand in 1991.
But, I was interested in some other issues as well. Of course, working on the SOS helpline
was extremely important. It was a vital link with women’s realities, with the exploitation of women within what’s known as strong, perpetual and cemented system of
patriarchy in SFR Yugoslavia. Patriarchy within the family was never critically questioned and… Let’s say, it was the most obvious thing for me to witness
in the aspect of violence against women. And this was my way of expressing solidarity with other women. We had a lot of these activities, and I think this was important. Sometime later came the activists from the
Italian Women in Black. They came to us, to our SOS helpline. I mean, we were a group, but we weren’t
registered at that time. Maybe we were… No, we weren’t actually, no. Well, they came here to us, and we really didn’t know why. They said: ‘The war… There will be war here.’ They arrived and brought us chocolate, coffee, soap bars… They couldn’t even speak English, I’ll never forget that. At the same time, it was such an act of solidarity,
but we didn’t even know what to do with it. On the other hand, it was such an announcement…
We were like: ‘What do you mean?’ I knew that the war had been brewing for a long time.
I could tell because all that structure which was producing, let’s say,
matrices of hatred and nationalism, and which armed paramilitary
military and police units and forces, that structure was comprised of key national institutions. Institutions, academies, universities, the Church, and so on. Therefore, it was really hard to pronounce such a thing, that there will be war.
Although all the signs were there, because this propaganda machine was there. So, in early 1991, and even before that, I took part in
many activities directed against militarization. That’s what I did. And then I joined the Center for Antiwar Action
because I believed that it was of highest importance. There I met many men who refused to go to war. However, women were doing most of the work there,
so I thought that it was not fair that their hard work in that organization was not recognized. I mean, that’s why it was extremely important
for me to start Women in Black. And so it eventually happened. That’s it. I served the army from September 1990 until 1991. I was discharged on August 8th in 1991.
It happened in the military hospital in Sarajevo. I was sent there because I tried to escape the barracks in Tuzla after the siren signal for our deployment to Croatia. I was running towards the fence and… I knew they were going to get me, but I couldn’t
think of any other way to fight back. I was escorted by some Goran Topić, a Corporal
stationed in Zagreb, and I was then sent to the military hospital in Sarajevo, where
I met a very nice doctor who completely understood my position. He wrote that I was mentally unfit for military service, although I had served the army for nine months already. We were still working on Revolver magazine, and we would publish articles and stories from Croatia and Belgrade. We had cooperated for a long time with
the now late Dejan Nebrigic, activist from Belgrade. He wrote extensively about what was happening
in Belgrade. And we published all of his texts in Serbian. We did it because it was important to us that
different voices and languages are heard, and because we were living in the same country. And there was no question about it. We saw no particular reason why Revolver
should switch to Slovene language only. And I remember one gay guy in Ljubljana who said: ‘You mustn’t, you’ shouldn’t have done this!’ How could you publish a text in Serbian in a time
like this, when Slovenia is under attack?!’ Then I told him: ‘Well, right now it seems really important
to keep our strong ties!’ And it didn’t mean that our languages or situation in general had changed. However, the argument of this gay guy was: “But right now we, gays and lesbians, ought to show
that we’re good Slovenes, too.” And then I thought: “I’ll never say that!”
Nationality in this sense is a disaster! Then we had our very first arguments, which went
something like this… ‘I am a Serbian woman!’ ‘How can you be a Serbian woman?!’
– ‘I’m a Yugoslavian woman.’ ‘What?! What kind of Yugoslavian woman are you?
There’s no Yugoslavia anymore!’ ‘Yes, I am!’ – ‘No you’re not! You can’t be a Yugoslavian,
you have a Serbian name!’ ‘I don’t care about my Serbian name!’
What is ethnicity after all? No one thought about ethnicity! Fortunately, we already had
some good feminists back then. Then I started to understand that nationality
and ethnicity are a construction. That’ it’s not a notion of “blood and soil”. And I don’t have to identify as a Serbian woman
even though I have a Serbian name and surname. Because I don’t feel it.
I can’t connect with Serbian history. I mean, it’s a history of murder, patriarchy,
hetero-patriarchy, and male violence! It has nothing to do with me. I had it all figured out already and I said:
‘I am not a Serbian woman!’ I had this privilege to say that I do not
belong to this construct of nationality. However, it was not pleasant at all since
nationalism became one of the crucial issues, it became a personal, intimate issue. We were all activists, but like, ad-hoc activists. Our reaction to war, incitement to hatred, and everything
else that was happening to us, was spontaneous. Next summer already, the war broke out in Sarajevo while
people were still protesting here and everything escalated. As a member of the Center for Antiwar Action, I was sent
to attend the first meeting of conscientious objectors. I have that photo here, you can tell how young…
We were in our twenties… These are activists Zoran Mortrić and Roberto Špic from Zagreb. This is how I started off in this form of
activism – conscientious objection. And deserters as well. We were engaged with people who
escaped war or refused to go to war. I have to say that, when it comes to Slovenia,
this movement never grew into a certain group, or a broad-scale front, so that one
could say that it was an anti-militarist action. It probably consisted of some individuals or
some smaller groups. The peace movement was in fact, I think, less active than
it had been before the war in Yugoslavia started. We built the basic infrastructure. We are at the squat here, we’re in Metelkova Street. It was in 1992 that we squatted this military compound
of the Yugoslav People’s Army. We came here and never retreated. We lived here, we slept here. We had no electricity nor water, but we persevered
and succeeded in what we have even today. For example, lesbian and gay clubs,
Tiffany and Monocle are here. This war particularly important – that we used this infrastructure
to build a scene rather than a small group. This scene bred new projects and new ideas,
artistic and political ideas. Given the circumstances
in Croatia, the war began… And main questions were who you were in the sense
of ethnicity and nationality and your place of origin. And I was faced with situations of human rights violation. My mom was fired and we got evicted. We were determined to regain what was taken
away from us, so we became active in that way. We took part in preventing evictions of other people. Some organizations for human rights were formed. All in all, I started off in antiwar campaign, which dealt with general issues of nationalism,
militarization and so on. Some other groups were active as well,
including conscientious objectors. There were all sorts of initiatives
for action beyond borders. Borders were in fact closed, but cooperation did exist. So, I was a member of a youth organization
called Post-pessimists, and there were young people from all parts of Yugoslavia. We’d spend time together, buzzing all over the place.
We’d also meet in Hungary, and we would by-pass those borders
we hadn’t been allowed to cross. We worked together and hung out.
We did art projects, theater plays and things like that. Therefore, I did youth work and later on the issue of
women as victims of war and wartime rape was brought up. All of this was part of my engagement, so at some
point I joined women’s peace activism. Well, incredible things were accomplished. I mean, I honestly believe that Medica-Zenica
was a pure feminist-activist project. Work done through Medica Zenica was astonishing! This includes the possibility of setting up a safe house
for women who survived atrocities. Marta – this gynecological ambulance, which was bullet proof ambulance vehicle moving through villages, and it enabled women doctors to examine women in villages. There are incredible stories of the medical team,
the psychologists and ulama who worked. All those children who were in the kindergarten. And then there was Infoteka which dealt with
Zamir on-line network and distribution of letters, and so on. And there were women from Germany who brought
those letters sewn into their clothes. Lots and lots of money passed through our hands and we asked recipients
to sign documents, so people wouldn’t get ideas. It was incredible, all the food and medications distributed,
and all the support women received. I think that this left its huge mark in the history
of the entire women’s movement, not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in the whole world. And the political work which stemmed from all this which led to
recognizing rape as a crime against humanity in 1993. It was through the work with women, primarily
German women who came here, like Gabi Miškovska, Monika Hauser, Michaela Schumacher, and others, that I not only learn,
but I also see and live women’s solidarity. Simply because I thought:
‘What the hell are you doing here?’ ‘Why’d you leave the comfort of your home or this place,
to be here?!’ ‘You’re out of your mind!’ But eventually
you start to understand certain things. All of this acquired a new dimension, I mean, it all became a global problem, where I’m not only responsible for the place I live in. And that as a feminist, I politically contemplate
upon every region, every part of the world. And wherever I can do something, it’s almost
my duty to do my best. This is what these women did at that time. Some of them, not all of them, but some of them,
got us acquainted with… Well, it wasn’t called LGBT at the time. It’s an abbreviation which I’m constantly
hearing for the past 15 years. It didn’t exist at all 24 years ago. Especially this Q. No way! Queer, what? No, there was no such thing! Well, we heard about lesbians. It was mostly mentioned during some spontaneous conversations when we were talking about something ordinary, about everyday life, I don’t know, like: ‘I’m married,’ and ‘I have a boyfriend,’ and: ‘I haven’t been with a girl for the past five years.’ And you were like: ‘Uh-huh, alright, so, she’s a lesbian. Okay!’ And, now, I guess it was such circumstances…
There was no WOW! Why? It’s because it wasn’t a ‘wow’. It’s because you had already had your ‘wow’ when
she left the comfort of her home, job, money, possessions, her life, came here to our damned Bosnia in the middle of the war,
and she did it to do something! She did this to help us! And tat was our: ‘Wow, what made you do it?’ So, that part, that is also a lesbian in her private life, was, at least for me and some of us, entirely peripheral. On the other hand, there were some of those who regarded it
as particularly important, and it caused some sort of aversion. There was simply this, you know, sort of constraint.
Suddenly, there’s constraint. However, all of these women did such amazing things,
so you just, couldn’t, even for those most conservative ones,
you had enough decency. So, you embrace her as a sister of your own. No one could pronounce the word
“lesbian” in the context of war. Because, it’s like this. So, I am working in Women’s
Autonomous Center, parallel, through the war years with women who had survived war violence,
war rape, who fled their homes as refugees. And in this classic hierarchy of victims,
these women were the biggest victims, you know. So in the sense of ethics, we feel enormous respect
for them, I mean, as society in general. And in that same ethical hierarchy, being a lesbian is on the lowest level. Now, all this is inside of me. All this shame from that
ethical perspective where I am ‘that one’. And as such, as a lesbian, I am working with those
who are put on the pedestal of victims. You couldn’t connect these two things in the same breath! Back then,
no way I could say: ‘I am a lesbian working with war victims’. No way! Those two things were so strongly split apart
and then again it was all in my body. So my body had to split. So when I was working with women,
I wouldn’t think about who or what I am. And after that I would go to a lesbian group,
I mean, later on, when we had one. And there I could be a lesbian and say nothing about the war
because they didn’t want to hear about it. Because they’ve had their own horrors, of being lesbians,
so they lacked strength and space to think about it. The war drastically deteriorated our position in so many ways. so we felt it natural to fight against something
that additionally makes everything even worse. Not only did we have friends, family members or
someone who was directly affected by the war, but the whole war atmosphere in Serbia was
also a threat for you as a gay or a lesbian. So it was some kind of extra motivation. That’s the reason. And then there was a disproportionate
number of gays and lesbians in our activist community. And it became clearly visible very soon. The visibility of me or some of my identities
in antiwar activism was challenging. I was active with some other young people from ex-Yugoslavia.
We spent time together and created things together. And queer identities were not discussed much. However, we did start. I remember this event from the late 1990s about
transgender and gender identities, in Szegedin. We had this school for everyone, so people started
talking about these issues, albeit rarely. There was a lot of prejudice, a lot of deep-seated prejudice. Even among us, among the people who opposed the war, there
were a lot of those who just couldn’t accept this. So it was suppressed, because we had a common enemy.
But, at the same time, we did discuss it to a certain extent. We’d used to say that if someone would have heard those discussions
happening behind our closed door, like, our neighbors or someone… They probably thought that
there were knives flying around by the end of discussion! No, seriously! We had some serious, really heavy discussions.
Sometimes there was so much misunderstanding on certain issues. But what’s important is that we’d always communicate openly!
We’d always talk and there was a dialogue. We were growing, becoming more mature, and they were too. And though it was all about anti-war activism, in a certain way,
it served as a preparation for some of us who have later on become gay and lesbian activists.
And it also prepared the overall social climate for a discourse on these issues. It laid some foundations. Sometime in 1996, or 1995 really, there were some of us lesbians who had already started gathering there, in women’s centers. Eventually, we agreed that we should write some lesbian graffiti,
like, it was something we needed to do, you know. The three of us went on to do it. We came across these guys who said:
‘You’re contaminating our streets! Go away!’ And they started beating us. This guy who appeared first, well, he approached me, and I said:
“Who are you? You know who I am, but who are you?” It was incredible, I mean, he said: ‘How dare you say anything.
Your words are filthy!’ Then he grabbed me and said, like: ‘Get out of here, or I’ll kill you. I’ll throw you
into this hallway, and nobody will know.’ And then he said this memorable sentence:
‘Your place is in the mosque!’ He said this because there was a mosque nearby,
the only mosque in Belgrade. I thought, like: ‘You want me in the mosque,
well, I was already there.’ It’s because we, as feminists who worked with refugees, knew that when the war started in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, there were some women with Bosniak, then Muslim names,
who sought refuge in the mosque. It was the only safe place for them, so they went there. Then, it was our own decision to go there and talk to them,
to see if we can support them, and so on. There was another point of connection.
I remember we had ZaMir (ForPeace) then, an e-mail network between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia
through antiwar centers in Tuzla, Zagreb and Belgrade. And I was already a high-tech lesbian, of course. I had a friend from Vienna who gave me this mini-laptop of hers. So I was able to write about what happened. I did that the following day, when I kind of recovered. I mean, he heavily beat one of us up,
the one who confronted them, of course. Then, one guy from Sarajevo replied. I’ll never forget that, he said: ‘Take care,
we know what kind of guys they are.’ This was, like… It was so, so important to me. Because, there was this feeling of guilt and this sort of
nuisance stemming from you being a lesbian when compared to the wartime. And now there is someone who is in that war,
in this very moment, and he feels compassion for you. I’ll never forget that. I don’t know who he is
nor what happened to him later. So, I’m really thankful. Yes, thank you. Amazing! Amazing… After the marathon negotiations held in the
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the Dayton Agreement was signed by the president of the
Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegović, the leader of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman, and the chief of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević, on November 21, 1995. So, we tried to campaign against the war through various publications. And right from the beginning, the Center for Antiwar Action
had been publishing the Pacific magazine. It was edited by Hamdija Demirović and Slobodan Blagojević from Sarajevo. They lived in Belgrade at the time, Both of them were writers and peace activists.
They left the city later. However, since the two were gay, as well as another editor, Dejan Nebrigić,
one of the first gay and peace activists in Serbia, even the first publication promoted, well, not exclusively
gay or lesbian identities, but this idea and identity of ‘otherness’. Everything was, of course, really subtle, but
it was done particularly through the choice of texts. From then on, all our almanacs, publications and newspapers we made, we absolutely insisted on promoting that this aspect of
simply having a right to be different includes a right to some other, different sexual identity. In this wide group of activist initiatives there were some organizations and initiatives which triggered
the discussion on gay and lesbian rights. There was a group in Croatia, Ligma, but they disbanded
in the early 1990s. This was not that wave. Actually, this was more of a post-war initiative which started in 1996,1997. And fanzines were published. Cross-press,
as it was called back then. People started organizing exhibitions, and something like support groups. And there were also some workshops,
educational programs and things like that. So, I joined this group. We had some meetings from time to time, in all kinds of
places, but it was not as organized as it is today. There were a few of us lesbians in Women in Black,
the antiwar and antimilitarist movement. And Štefi Markunova was one of us. We all adored her. Sadly, she passed away. She used to write poems, and she was a real poet, really. She was the chronicler of our time, a fantastic artist. She was really gifted and she actually wrote poems
about everything we did, all our vigils, all the places we went. And all the events and feminist meetings she attended, and all of this was there, in those three books of hers. One of the memories I have of her was was the following. It was 1996, and the war in Bosnia ended in February, so in May or June, or I don’t know when, women’s organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina
organized a big international conference for women. And it was to be held there in the middle
of Sarajevo, in the Army Hall. We had a big delegation in our bus which brought together
many of our members and women from Kosovo. And there were also many women, who actually
traveled with us just to go to Bosnia. They were actually very scarred, they had Bosniak names
and they only wanted to visit their relatives in Bosnia, but they hadn’t been allowed to cross the border for five years.
So, they were really overwhelmed and terrified. It was the first time that we were crossing
something called Zvornik border. We didn’t even know what a border was,
we had never crossed one before. I was one of the leaders of this trip
because I wasn’t obviously ‘problematic’. Like, I was not a refugee, I have a Serbian name,
so, classic thing. And I remember this policeman
asking who the leader was. It was me, and then he, he got me into this
improvised aluminum house for policemen, because there hadn’t been a border before.
So, he puts me in an empty room, there was nothing in the room. And right there, on the table…A BOOK!
I look at it and what… There was dead silence, scorching hot
summer day, and a book on the table saying “Women Comets”
by Štefi Markunova. I look at it and it looks familiar, so familiar! Later on I got it – Štefi was late, she overslept. She was late for our bus so she took the next one. She was smart, and the bus came before us, who knows why. Of course, they got her out of the bus because
her last name didn’t end in “ić”, and she went with the book. She had held the book under her arm, she later told us. So, these young policemen were all kids for her, bullies, soldiers and criminals, she knew all that. She was also very aware that she is actually
playing the part of her life. She needs to talk to those representatives of the detested
authorities whom she despises because she is a Woman in Black,
so she takes the role of the Jester. Perfectly aware of the fact that the jester always tells the truth. She tells them ‘You’re asking me what I do?
I write lesbian poetry.’ They go something like: ‘This old rag.’ And she said nothing, she knew it all. She later told us how she had described to him what the book contains, that all of those poems celebrate the love between two women. ‘In case you don’t know what a lesbian is,
it’s when two women are kissing.’ ‘It is very beautiful.’ That guy, whatever he wanted to ask her, he forgot and let her go. And she left him a present, really as a gift, she gave her book to him. Which of course, was still there, left on the desk when I walked in! I stood there, in the empty room with Štefi’s amazing book. Really, I will never forget that. Oh, Štefi… The first two men who walked in were Bojan and Dejan
and that was absolutely amazing. I mean, simply put, no one was asking any questions. It’s because we are politically alike. They were antifascist, antimilitarist, antinationalist
so what is there to ask, really. And I was really glad that there were Bosnian refugees among us. And they, some of them didn’t come by their own free will. I mean, they came because of their names and because
their husbands…One of them had a husband, military officer in Mostar, the other’s husband stayed in Sarajevo and so on. So, it was really interesting this mutual, let’s say,
learning about each other. There was a woman, a mother whose son was taken in Štrbci. All of that was very, very interesting to see how,
as the saying goes, you see they’re good people. Okay, political similarity is important,
and it is always the determining factor. But, we had the basic assumptions and it was wonderful.
One human community in which we all got to know each other. When Staša and I met for the first time,
it was already by the end of October ’92. And then she said ‘Hey, you should come, we have a SOS phone
at the Youth Center, we gather there, different groups and all.’ And so, I sort of think of myself, since December ’92, as war profiteer, in the context of getting all this. I got friends around the whole world, I got the support to survive throughout all these hardest years. And in a way, I really worked on myself a lot. It was always on our mind, that we have this…
that we should actually transform this feeling of guilt. Oftentimes, there was this feeling of guilt. Because you’re in Belgrade, and the aggression to Croatia and
Bosnia, later Kosovo too, was conducted from Belgrade. And actually that guilt, can be used as an impulse to do something. Because you have this emotion which is really an energy which you can transform into action. So it was important to us that we had solidarity as one of the key values of the antiwar and feminist movements as well. This meant we had awareness and that the other women are important to us, who were in some different situation compared to us. So, it’s solidarity with a woman different than I am. Solidarity actually assumes that I have a desire
and that it is my concern and issue, and that I am reaching out to another woman who
didn’t ask or call me. And that I want to know how she is and I want to hear
about her life the way she tells it, the way she sees it. Apart from that, solidarity is not some emotional category. It is a political culture and it means making of, let’s say, important framework in which we have to understand
that it is not just imperative, but it is pragmatic. We have to, because if we don’t support each other,
in the words of that anti-nazi pastor, there won’t be anyone, when they come for you, there
won’t be anyone to defend you. It is simply fascinating, isn’t it? And it is extremely important, because it gives you hope. That’s the hope. We send packages to Sarajevo, and give hope, right. They come to us to give us hope and it circulates like that, the hope. And solidarity is actually a form of hope
as much as it is a form of getting to know someone. So then you get to know people and you know
that you’re not alone in the world and that you have witnesses for your suffering. I already said how much it meant to us that activists from across
the world were coming here as an act of solidarity with us. Among them there were lesbians and gay men, also disproportionately compared to the population. And to us it meant a lot to meet other people who, apart from teaching us non-violent communication
and helped working with refugees, also shared their private life stories and their gay and lesbian
identities, so we were learning in that way as well. I have to say that I tried really hard on this one. I pushed for, well… Already on the first international gathering of Women in Black,
and we organized ten, I stated that it is our moral responsibility as the
Women in Black from Belgrade to talk about a great contribution of the
international lesbian solidarity, especially from Great Britain, Spain and so on. Not solely antimilitarists from all those countries but lesbians too. And that was a political decision, I believe. Many lesbians had asked me not to do that, but we said it stands in accordance with our moral principles. And we said that we have to talk about it and that
other people will understand, as well as all the other women. And that is what happened. So it was in August ’96 and we had another meeting
of Women in Black, Women’s solidarity against war. That is when, a bit before the meeting, Rachel Wareham, who is an activist from Britain working in Kosovo at the time, and Igballa Rogova also a feminist, lesbian
and activist from Kosovo, contacted Women in Black. And the two of them said: ‘We are coming with all of our group
and the two of us want to get married, and make a ritual of the wedding in the antiwar, antimilitary,
international gathering of Women in Black.’ But something amazing happened. Somewhere In the middle of the wedding it started raining. So it was raining and we were soaking wet. We’ve never felt more sexy in our lives, more
beautiful, better or more fantastic. Like fairies or something. And all of a sudden we became fairies… on the dance floor…It was magical. The smell of the rain… and we were so happy. An extraordinary situation! There were heterosexual women, lesbians, gay men, I mean… there were probably trans persons too, grannies,
women wearing their religious motives. It was all out there, you could say. We were
all there together and it was phenomenal. I don’t think we ever felt those connections were broken in any way. It felt like we were always there and that
we’d continue where we left off. So, we had the very first lesbian gathering in Ljubljana,
in Pohorje, in 1997. And it was organized by Kasandra, not by LL section. That gathering in Pohorje was the very first Yugoslav meeting of lesbians ever.
We didn’t have it before. I mean, there were feminist meetings and all. But it’s interesting that it happened later. And then somebody asked me: ‘Well, how can there be a Yugoslav
meeting, that country doesn’t exist anymore?!’ And I replied: ‘Well, there is a gathering. We’re here.’ Demonstrators have arrived to the center of Belgrade,
to the plateau in front of the Federal assembly building. Already before noon the police used teargas to
stop them from storming into the parliament. But the police couldn’t stop them. Very soon the parliament building was in flames, and
soon after the national television building as well. Apart from the demands that (Milosevic) admits to the election results,
DOS also demanded resignation of Slobodan Milošević as the one in charge of RTS. It is over. Those who were at the parliament have went away!
They are gone. They are carrying flags! The end! He’s finished! So we overthrew this criminal, Milošević, in 2000. Somehow, we got carried away, because Đinđić came and democracy, which meant we will immediately celebrate gay and lesbian love
in the streets as early as 2001. We founded Labris in 95-96. And by 1999, we were all antiwar activists,
Women in Black, protesting publicly. We thought what could get worse than us standing against the regime
so explicitly while now we are going out in the streets to celebrate love. However, that was an enormous shock! Kill, kill, kill the faggot. Faggot! Faggot! Kill, kill, kill the faggot. Faggot! Faggot!
Kill, kill, kill the faggot. Faggot! Faggot! That was a huge shock.
So we couldn’t foresee those two things. Firstly, the extent to which, love,
so—called same sex love – lesbian and gay love undermines patriarchy and this society, and the idea of family. The idea that the family is the cell of the society,
reproduction, nation, blood. All of that is intertwined, of course! And then, all of a sudden, this religious gang shows up, directed by Milosevic, of course, formed in the meantime! And later on, it turned out that they showed up against Jews, the Roma people and many other different manifestations. That is where they started from, and then they took full swing! Of course, they had the green light, which is very important. They came… So we regularly reported it to the police that we will be there in 2001, at the Massacre Pride, how we call it. However,
the police brought three policemen, while they got help from some Orthodox priest who was supporting them while they were beating, kicking and hitting us. So, it was clear that all of that was orchestrated by
the church and the state. Yes, the state, of course, it was all backed up by the state! I was prompted by the need to do something,
to help and that people help each other. So Q was unique somehow, because other people
who were part of Q were not necessarily of higher age. They were not part of feminist circles. But they were prompted by their situation, their identities
and their own power to get involved. By coming in BiH in 2002 in September I automatically started reaching out to people
and connecting with people who had done work on LGBT*IQA issues before, with people who were interested in doing something on concrete level regarding
those issues or who were on the positions so their voices could be heard. And I started working with the community where we started
connecting online and via online forum. And we’d meet every day. It started from the website,
from the ideas, from the strategy and so on. The most important things we had done were the terminology and
definitions which are now widely used everywhere. That we initiated a wider scope of LGBT activism which is now
a no-brainer, as a minimum of definition of what activism is. That we embodied a Human Rights Based Approach organizationally wise. And we shared it across the region. Those are some of the most meaningful things for me,
including our seminars and education. So, we started off immediately with the abbreviation. I am saying this because
intersex persons and intersex issue were immediately included in our work, as well as transgender and transexuality issue which
were immediately included as well. This year’s Pride is dedicated to the participants coming
from 14 countries in which the march still can’t be organized. The biggest part, around 300 of the participants
came from the Eastern Europe. We organized pride march called Pride International in 2006. And we invited people from the region, and all of the Eastern Europe
where pride marches mostly aren’t organized. We had the opportunity to start in Zagreb before,
so by then we already had the experience of organizing it. So it was really important to show support and solidarity to
those people that they come and see that it is indeed possible. Hello, I am Milan from Serbia, live freely! Hi everyone, I am Nenad from Bosnia. Live freely! We even had a regional board considering that… Because we were now organizing the pride parade
in Zagreb for those people as well. We sort of felt more like technical and logistic support
for the march itself, not as direct organizers. And that created friction in the society, but also in the community itself. So, there are people within the society
and the community who think that broader issues broader issues which aren’t only about LGBTIQ rights- don’t belong to the Pride. And then, there are those who believe that we
shouldn’t be doing anything beyond borders. And that the fact that we include the whole region
doesn’t look good for us and so on. So it was considered controversial,
but for me personally, it was one of my favorites! The first Queer Sarajevo Festival. Life stories of those invisible and unacceptable, lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender,
transexual, intersex and queer persons. For us, QSF was a war zone. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh! Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh! Muḥammadun rasūlu llāh! Allāhu akbar! We’ll fuck all your your mothers, especially the faggots’! What do you all want?
What do you want?! It was a mini war for those who were directly involved. Because we were targeted directly. Anyone who at that time in any way deviated from the classical appearance
no matter if they were queer or not, were targeted too. And that was the feeling… The feeling was that it was a state of war because someone is after you. I don’t know how to describe it differently. Someone is after you, right behind you,
someone is chasing you. There was an attack and the community was traumatized. Shocked. For the first time it had to face certain things. Some people were set back regarding their
coming out and connecting with others. Because you thought you were slowly heading somewhere,
and then suddenly all the doors were shut. I am not glad about it, at all. That is a reminder of Sodom and Gomorrah on the 27th night of Ramadan,
a noble night which Muslims wait for in prayer. I am not at all glad about it. Those people, of course have a right to their sexual orientation,
well, disorientation, to be more precise. It is their business. They should lock themselves up and do whatever they want. But to make it popular, and represent
it as normal, invite others, propagate it and so on, to influence the youth. That is just not right. There are some boundaries. It was like a mirror offered to the world,
showing the existence of some extremist groups, a wider mirror of the police and protection
that exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the evidence of complete non-structure of Bosnian-Herzegovinian
state, of all those ministries, the system. Complete chaos. That country couldn’t handle it. But it was very important for those who manipulated those people, and it was very important to anyone else who
will do the same thing tomorrow. Because we got a confirmation that there is still that potential to repeat the same thing that happened at the beginning of war. And that
people would cling on to nonsense and make a state of war out of it. However, there wasn’t a movement in BiH then, a movement which would unmask and solve all those questions. That movement would gather the people who have
the knowledge and share the same cause. And obviously there’s a reason for that. Obviously the state doesn’t have the interest to solve the issue of nationalism. It’s because nationalism is food which is used during the conflict and it brings them the masses
later to be used for their gain. It seems to me that the most important thing
we did wasn’t directly connected to LGBTI issues, but it is related to facing the past. As we got into the issue of facing the past on local level, we started a non-formal, grassroots initiative
Jer me se tiče (Because it Concerns Me), marking White Armband Day in Prijedor. When I say started, I don’t mean that we’re the ones
who invented the campaign, but we actually just joined the fight of the representatives and the associations
who are dealing with issues of civilian casualties of war. And they started the campaign in 2012. It seems to me that it is actually the most
important thing we have organized. Today that event is a very political one. It’s an event that is equivalent
to official institutional commemorations of important dates. It represents the creation of new politics of memory, opposing the institutionally imposed collective memory, which is based exclusively on the national and religious background
of the victim and those who commemorate. I think that only the intersectional approach makes sense. I think we are aware that dealing solely with
LGBT*IQA issues or identity issues which don’t connect or reveal cause-effect
relationships with other aspects and fields of work in the sense of activist or socially engaged,
socially populist activist work, however we call it… It actually brings us to the space for manipulation,
in other words it brings us to, what we call, pink washing. When we pushed for the LGBTIQ issues we went to see the legal advisor of Haris Silajdžić, one of the presidents of BiH, Damir Arnaut. And I handed him out our study because we started talking about
national issues. And I said: ‘Here is the answer.’ People need to be given a choice. No, you don’t have a problem when it comes to national identity
and nationalism, when you offer choice to people. You can’t declare what I am based on my name and my last name. But give that person a choice. Inform them, present them with the situation
and let them identify themselves. And it’s the same principle for sex, gender,
sexual orientation and everything else too! We don’t set the framework in a way that civilian
victims of war should have exclusive rights, or that LGBTI persons should have exclusive rights. We simply set the framework as the struggle between
the oppressed and the privileged. When you put it that way, then you actually see
that the civilian victims of war, people of lower socio-economic class and
LGBTI persons actually have a lot in common. And right there is the only way to move from the dead point. Why is it that, when you say it, and it’s the truth…
When it comes to the ban of the third Magnus, and those interpretations are very good, clear and true:
it is also connected to the very constitution of the Slovenian state itself! Which is a paradox! Because during socialism
there is all that emancipatory politics. And at the point when the transition starts, the shift to capitalism, which will grow into the worst of forms, at that moment the national state connects with the clerical,
especially catholic interests, and of course, the interests based on capital. So they directly ban it. It is the national state that bans it through the myth of AIDS, creating panic, saying there will be a pandemic. Terrible discourse! But they use it as means to ban the festival itself
which had already been organized two times before that. It was one of those moments when the political discourse
actually enables you to understand what is happening. You see that everything we thought we’d achieve
is absolutely not possible in capitalism. Neoliberal global capitalism thrives on discrimination.
Thrives on a paradox! When you think you’re going to get that what had been
banned in socialism and then nothing actually happens! Furthermore, the family law which would finally arrange those relationships, the law which would give the visibility and set the real legal framework, base legal framework, basic human rights for everyone, that is what we fight for! It has to be like that – the same for everyone! Whether people want to marry or not, it’s their business! But they need to have a legal
right to do so, to have children and have the same rights like everybody else. Those rights don’t just happen on their own, but they are a part of big engagement that shows unbelievable
homophobia and transphobia of that space. I hope there will be some initiatives born again, maybe within the already existing groups. And that they’ll work on broader issues of equality, issues of class identity and ethnicity, issues of sex and gender, and so on. And that the main thing won’t be, as it was for some time
at least in Slovenia, the issue of gay marriage. I don’t think it’s the main issue, nor that it should stay the most important issue. I mean, this issue of solving equality through bureaucracy
doesn’t mean that everything will change. At least for me, gay marriage isn’t the end of LGBT movement. I think that it is one of the important things, but I see
many other things as well. I think it’s time for some other groups and initiatives
to make it all more radical.

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