City Tour

On 17th of September 2018, we got to discover Timișoara through different eyes, the eyes of our community, as we organized a city tour. But this was not a tour like you would expect, this one was filled with stories about the LGBTQI+ community, its social life and history.

The tour took 2 hours, it was held in English and over 20 people participated. This was an important step for our city, because this tour was the second LGBTQI+ tour in Romania and we saw that the people who participated were excited. During the tour they kept on asking questions, some of them told stories or pieces of information that we did not even know. This was the beauty of it. To realise that we have so many things to share with the ones who want to listen.

“The public was very interested in the information that I presented and I realized that some of them already knew it. This made me so happy. And even more so, the public did not include only LGBTQI+ people, we even had people that joined the tour while seeing us and they stayed until the end. They also told us about things we did not know, and this is why I love these types of tours where the public teaches us things.” said Alexandra Irimia, Timișoara Tour Guide

It was a challenge to organise it, because when we talk about our history or the places where people used to meet, we do not have something written, we do not have an official archive. All the stories are heard from the ones that used to live here, the ones that lived during the communist era for example and they knew what it meant to be scared for your life if you were part of the LGBTQI+ community.

It is by word of mouth how we discovered that near the Opera House in the city center, during the communist period, men used to meet with other men in the public bathrooms for sexual encounters. These men, usually important ones in the society, came to the theater with their wives, and during the intermezzo they liked to meet with somebody else. This led to a lot of arrests and through Article 200, these men were subjected to aggressive interrogations. But we would not have known that, if we did not have someone to tell us, because this kind of news was not published anywhere.

“It is very challenging to organize such a tour where your only sources of information are people who lived during this period and people who are willing to talk to you. Even today, the scars that the communist regime left on them are not easy to deal with. Even today, a lot of them are still afraid to talk. And it is a shame, because these people have wonderful stories, these people can help the next generations create safer spaces for everyone.”

This tour was specially created for Identity.Education, and now it is part of the tours offered by Timişoara Tour Guide. It is in a constant change, as we discover new places, stories and people which contribute to the queer history of the city.

“With this opportunity, I would like to ask people who have information about our queer history to share it with us, no matter how tiny or unimportant you think it is, so we can improve this tour as much as we can. We are not interested in names, we just want to discover as many pieces of history as we can, especially from the people who lived during these hard times. We want to hear you and tell the future generations all the “nameless stories”. (Alexandra Irimia, Timișoara Tour Guide)