Bi chat shqip
Ahmet, a 19-year-old man, says his father and brothers abused him after learning he is gay, and his mother told him, “I birthed you. I am married, so you will be married and have children.” Ahmet notes that in addition to safeguarding their families, Kosovars also do not want the social shame associated with having a gay relative: “You are known by your father’s name.So people are going to say, ‘The son of so-and-so is gay.’” Further complicating matters for LGBT individuals is Kosovo’s struggling economy.
“(If) you have no income yourself, you stick with your family, because where can you go? “You do what they say.” Consequently, the vast majority of LGBT people do not talk about their identities with their families.Protection of LGBT individuals’ rights and efforts to encourage acceptance of their lifestyles have been mired amid family expectations, economic instability, government intransigence, and other realities of life in Kosovo.LGBT activism has begun to find its footing, but it faces uphill battles with the Kosovar public, law enforcement, and even the LGBT community itself.“It’s a culture of silence,” says Hans, a gay man from the Netherlands living in Prishtina.“When you don’t speak about an issue, it’s not an issue.” The family is not the only source of prejudice in the country.But things took a bad turn when local media learned of the club’s effort to attract new clientele.
The online outlet Lajme Shqip sent a photographer to Pure Pure to cover the story, upsetting organizers and attracting dangerous attention.
“The post-conflict context valorizes men as warriors and women as mothers,” explains Nita Luci, an anthropologist and professor at American University of Kosovo.
The individual, in many ways, is less important than the unit. “Your family wants you to grow up and create a family and produce — keep the family growing.” Stories circulate throughout the LGBT community of people, once their identities are known, being thrown out of their homes, beaten or verbally harassed by relatives, or forced to marry members of the opposite sex.
“My family found out both that I’m gay and that I initiated the party. After that, I was beaten at home,” the employee says. “How would you feel if you were alone in a park and you were surrounded by 500 foxes?
That’s how I felt.” Such is life for members of the LGBT community in Kosovo.
“I knew there was something I shouldn’t say,” she recalls. Now in his early 30s, Fejzaj, who agreed to let his real name be used in this article, grew up in a village in eastern Kosovo.