Out and Proud? LGBT+ in Bulgaria
Written by Denitsa Dimitrova, edited by Scott Green, photo by Pixabay
The ‘P’ word we have all heard the most in the past year is ‘pandemic’ and it makes our hearts dry up and fold neatly in our chest like a well-made piece of origami. Fortunately, another ‘P’ word is about to take over, even if just for a few weeks – ‘pride’ and it makes a lot of hearts spread wings and take flight. A few weeks for some, continuous work for others – what does the rest of the year look like for Kosta, Chris, Gloriya, and Simeon?
Gloriya: Bilitis is part of the organizing committee of Sofia Pride, so currently we are working on organizing the march. Besides this, we are preparing the Sofia Pride Sports events which happen every year in Pride month. We find that sports are a very natural way of bringing people together, having fun and promoting wellbeing, which is really important in our community. The events are open for everyone, no matter if you are LGBTI or not. This year Sofia Pride Sports’ team of 20 LGBTI people participated in the Wings for Life World Run which raises funds for finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and paraplegia. The next events we have planned are a football tournament, a table tennis tournament, yoga and mobility training, and a well-being seminar. All events can be followed on our Facebook page.
Chris: We (huge.bg) are planning some exciting new projects. Some of them are already seeing the light of day – “In the Closet” is our newest video production which features interviews with Bulgarian LGBT+ artists and allies. You can watch the published episodes on our website, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. Also, we are going to continue working on our mission to educate the community and create a safe space for them.
Kosta: We (out.bg) plan to keep cultivating a safe space for expression where our readers also join the conversations. We are planning to expand the ways we interact with our audience with more video, interactive, live and branded content, and we have some interesting things up our sleeve for our monthly digital covers! We are also going to cover LGBTQ+ news from Eastern Europe more at large, which will contextualize the Bulgarian experience even better. We spent the first 6 months finding the pulse of our audience, and now we can really hone in on what’s important to them and deliver, deliver, deliver.
Simeon: We (GLAS foundation) are planning 3-4 social campaigns, which were delayed last year, so they are now coming back in full. We have Sofia Pride, there are ongoing exhibits from Sofia Pride Arts which are happening this month and next month. We have some conferences on hate crime and other LGBT+ related topics. We just finished our first diversity inclusion business forum which lasted 3 days with 34 speakers, but in the Fall we will have a second mini edition of that. There is a kid’s book coming out and we are so excited about it. It’s called ‘Julian wants to be a mermaid’ and it was on the New York’s bestselling books list. It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait to have it here.
The big thing will be in the Fall – there is a national census happening in Bulgaria where you can declare if you live in a same-sex union or if you’re married to a person of the same sex. This is a huge step forward because it’s a way for us to show that we exist and in what numbers and have that acknowledged. So we will have a campaign around it with a famous Bulgarian actress who is supporting us. It’s going to be grand, I’m sure. It’s a way for the community to feel empowered. We can’t wait to show the video we’ve recorded for it – it’s very emotional, touching, and beautiful.
‘And that, Charlie Brown, is what Pride is all about!’
Legend has it that as she was being dragged to a police wagon on the night of the Stonewall Inn police raid in 1969, Stormé DeLarverie shouted to the crowd ‘Why don’t you guys do something?’ and they did. They, the members of the LGBT+ community, still do ‘something’ every day. Does it take a riot to change things around? A change of the law, a change of mind? Does it take courage to just be yourself every day regardless of public opinion? Whatever it takes.
The rainbow flag is based on the spectral colors of the visible light spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And it holds a certain wisdom that we all need to be reminded of sometimes – that it takes all the colors of the rainbow to have light. Otherwise, we just go back to darkness.