PRIDE TM 2019
The LGBTQI+ community in Romania has, historically speaking, not been very visible in our country. It took us 60 years to realize that homosexuality is not a crime, and during these years, especially during the communist regime, a lot of people had to suffer because of article 200, which criminalized any homosexual acts and relationships. Although the revolution from 1989, which started in Timișoara and led to the fall of the communist regime, article 200 was still in place until 2001. This is why, 2019 marked an important year for the history of the LGBTQI+ community in Timișoara: we organized PRIDE TM - the first PRIDE related events in Timișoara from 3rd to 7th of June. For some this may not sound like a new thing, but for our community it was. Taking into consideration, that for a long time, in this part of the country, even the idea of LGBTQI+ activism was absent, right now we have found our voice and path. This week meant more than meeting people from the community, it was a way of celebrating progress, inclusion and art. Identity.Education is the host and creator of PRIDE TM.
On Monday, 3rd of June, we met in a gallery in the city center for an art exhibition with works done by young artists from the local community and allies, we entered their personal space and somehow it made us understand them better. “Personal views” exhibition was a representation of different points of views, which showed us the way people feel as part and about the community.
Tuesday brought us another important and necessary event. At Casa Artelor we held a conference in partnership with ACCEPT and MozaiQ called “Legal Views”. We talked about the things that are missing in the Romanian society: LGBTQI+ rights. We discussed the need for civil partnership and how important it is for the community something that seems so small for others. Also, together with one of our speakers Patrick Brăila (trans activist and co-president ACCEPT), we discussed the problems that transgender people face when it comes to legal and medical matters.
The 5th of June marked the launch in Timisoara of the publishing house Hecate, event hosted by Cărturești Mercy. Hecate is meant to be a place for the small communities, for those people who are looking to discover themselves and others through literature.
Later in the evening we were invited to an info bio show called “At the Institute of Change” produced by CNDB – The National Center of Theatre in Bucharest, the event was hosted by the German Theatre in Timișoara – a place big enough to host the over 230 people who attended the show. ”At the Institute of Change” (after The Institute of Change), by Paul Dunca, is based on investigation, documentation and archiving of personal stories collected from local reality, concerning mainly the Romanian transgender community. The work focuses on the issues of undertaking one’s body/ sexuality / genre identity and of the confrontation between the intimate narration of the body and public perception, presenting a community that is completely invisible locally.
On Thursday, at AMBASADA, the event had another theme: storytelling, a very personal evening for most of the people who attended. In partnership with Decât O Revistă (leading storytelling magazine in Romania) and ACCEPT, we organized “Storytelling as an element of change”. We talked about the importance of storytelling and how it can help us understand someone better, regardless the communities we are or are not part of. Sometimes it is easier to put yourself in someone else’s shoes if you know their story. Our speakers shared their very personal stories and we saw different backgrounds and different situations , that each one of them had to face, starting with family, society, coming out, legal matters, etc. The public consisted of over 50 people from the community, friends and family, allies. The speakers were: Patrick Brăila (movie director, human rights activist with ACCEPT and the strongest voice in Romania for trans rights), Yusuf Ramadan (British national who moved to Romania with work a multinational corporation, talking about cultural differences both within and towards the community and about finding love) and Deea Rădulescu (founder of Identity.Education, talking about coming out and being the voice of LGBTQI+ activism and the community in the Western part of Romania). The event was moderated by Irina Tacu, journalist from Decat O Revista, who covered several articles about the LGBTQI+ community.
In the last day of PRIDE TM, hosted by AMBASADA again, we let ourselves be entertained by the performative concert “Songs & Ballads from Gay Herstory" by #FLUID. Their colorful performance shows us what fluidity is like and how everybody can embrace it. People also enjoyed a delicious open wine bar, sponsored by a local winery, while listening to the music by Armies. Everybody had a great time closing this series of events with a glass of wine and great company.
This first edition of PRIDE TM was not easy to organize. Beside the financial issues (main source of income was personal donations), there was a lot of online bullying and hate speech, online and not only, coming from far right conservative groups. The Community of Christian Baptist Churches in Timișoara expressed their opinion publicly, through a press release, saying that they were perplexed to find out that some public institutions were hosts and partners for LGBTQI+ events. Also, they believe that having this festival in Timișoara, the first city that escaped from communism, the Christian faith was defied, so, during all events, a group of priests stayed outside and started to pray. On the gallery’s window, where we organized “Personal views” exhibition, someone drew a cross to cover some of the art that was displayed in the window, a cross, which was later turned into a rainbow flag, by a local artist, as a response to bigotry.
In comparison with other PRIDE festivals from Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, PRIDE TM did not have a parade. When asked, members of the community said they do not feel safe enough in the city to attend a parade and did not feel that this represents their interests best. In 2019 we focused our events around community building, on bringing people together and for them to see that they can trust each other and partners in projects and events. Before Identity.Education, Timișoara has had no active representation by an NGO, so we wanted to get to know the community first and for the community to get to know us.