Slovak LGBT community has been fighting for years for something that has been enacted in European countries for a long time. England, Germany, or even the neighboring Czech Republic are several years ahead of us. We are trying hard but somehow it is not working. Has anyone asked the question why?
I don’t think this is because we are not fighting. We are fighting and we are fighting a lot. A number of activists have been joining and fighting for years for our rights, such as Iniciatíva Inakosť. We organize Pride in Bratislava and Košice. Gay Pride is also known as a gay parade, LGBT Pride or Christopher Street Day in German-speaking countries. It began to be organized in 1969 in America and is now organized regularly around the world. So we are inspired and we do organize our Pride too. Well, I’m asking myself – is this the right way for Slovakia too?
How do organizers perceive Pride?
Let me say that the LGBT community itself and the organizers are proud of every well-organized pride. As a person with the experience of organizing events, I must admit that organizing Pride in Bratislava the capital of Slovakia or in Košice the second largest city in Slovakia is not easy. It takes a lot of energy, time and legal knowledge to handle all t related activities – for example, contacting the city and getting permission, contacting the partners and the speakers, finding a suitable place, organizing activities according to planned agenda etc. If you ask why are the organizers doing that, let me quote (translated from Slovak):
From organizers’ point of view, pride is indeed a way how to make LGBT community more visible.
How do LGBT community perceive Pride?
It is said that it is better to make a small step than not to do any. So most of us are pleased that at least something is happening. I even find daredevils who stand up in the crowd, take the flag and fight with others.
I personally hide my true orientation from most of my surroundings and therefore I deeply admire everyone who stands up, not afraid to say openly who he is and come out into the streets. He doesn’t care if any photo is taken by a photographer from local newspapers; if he will be in the news of the most watched television or if his photos will be shared everywhere on the social networks. For many people is this moment one of the biggest steps in their life – as it is not easy to publicly admit real identity and even fight for the rights.
I must admit that even if I would not hide my identity, I wouldn’t join pride and the crowd. And there is more than one reason why not…
How do Slovak citizens perceive Pride?
As I have been convinced when reading comments on the social networks, most of the people don’t understand what Pride is about. They perceive it as “huge performance”, “show” or “circus”. Looking from the outside, they see a crowd of painted people, half-naked and screaming, fighting for some kind of rights. While in Košice it is more a peaceful and conservative walk, Pride in Bratislava also attracts “more exotic” types.
I have a feeling that the Pride attends certain categories of people – organizers and activists, young and brave people who believe that Pride might at least slightly change the world and flashers. But in our society, there are also gays, lesbians or transsexuals who work as lawyers, actors, doctors, IT gurus or teachers. All of them are hiding in their houses,in their closets. Therefore, let’s not be surprised that Slovak citizens are against the LGBT community. They see only a couple in latex, a couple with a whip and a muzzle, or half-naked dancing boys. I confess that I don’t want my child to look at anything like that and that this is far from the love and understanding we are fighting for.
Why it is not working in Slovakia?
As said by a marketing strategist, not all marketing tools apply to all target groups. Slovak’s mentality is different. The Slovak nation is conservative, oppressed, religiously oriented and not very open minded towards other cultures. Therefore we cannot expect that if Pride is successful in Germany or England it will be successful in Slovakia as well. I believe that our young generation who is more open minded and use the opportunity of traveling can better perceive what is happening around us. Still, it takes years to start thinking differently.
Another reason why Pride is not successful in Slovakia is the way it is organized. Here again we have to learn from big cities such as London, Paris or well known “gay city” Brighton.
What might help
As I mentioned, the mentality of the Slovaks is different. So we cannot expect that the way how they are thinking will change from day to day. They have myths and prejudices in their head and we need to refute them. Well, just gay Pride does not help and might even do the opposite – it only confirms their prejudices.
People need to understand that lesbians, gays or transsexuals are people like them. That it is the doctor treating them, or a dear lady who takes care of their children at school. From personal experience, I know that if I tell someone about my orientation, they usually change their minds and see things differently. Suddenly they support me and they understand what is missing in Slovak legislation.
We lack positive role models. Famous people in showbiz or politics. They are there and there is a lot of them, but they are afraid. And that’s a shame because they, the successful and the smart people, have the greatest potential to move Slovakia forward.