18 years ago, we, as in: us – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersex and queer persons together with our allies and supporters, have had bravely set out in fight for freedom, equality and rights in Croatia, just as have had ours fellow comrades stood up against oppression in Stonewall 50 years ago and have had started a movement for rights of LGBTIQ persons in the USA and around the world. Today, while our flags are waved all around the world, we are proud to be united in a movement that has no borders, nationalities or languages, because that is the only way we can maintain resistance to isolation and invisibility of our identities and our lives. We lost some fights in Croatia, we have a law, but we still live in fear of violence. Hate speech and hate crimes are still not getting juridical epilogue and we still do not have parenting and fostering rights.
Over the last seventeen Pride Marches of LGBTIQ persons and families in Zagreb there have been few dozens of us beaten up, bottles, ashtrays and tear gas thrown at us and many of us have been thrown out from our homes and rejected from our own families, society and neighborhood. Pride Marches have also awakened those that relentlessly call for wars and make up a way to belittle us, to show us that we are second class citizens, that we are guests in our own country or that we are “something else”. We have been called out for unnecessary parading, we have been marginalized and excluded from society. They tried to scare us, silence us and divide us.
But, the last seventeen Pride Marches have motivated a lot of persons to take off rose-tinted glasses and stand with us in defense of safe and open society. Because of Pride March, a person was arrested for the first time for criminal acts of hate crime and for the first time flags were waved on main Zagreb`s Square and on the streets of other Croatian cities. Pride March has made a lot of people to come out and be accepted and loved for who they are and it led to committing life partnerships and creating new families. Pride March has shown that there is a need to secure a support system for LGBTIQ persons throughout a whole year and that is why Zagreb Pride organization was created. Because of Pride March we came out as feminists, antifascists, and opponents to clerical right and as fighters for working-class rights. As long as there is a Pride March we will be here to fight for a society of solidarity, justice, and freedom for all of us. In these eighteen proud years, we showed that reality can be changed only if we are united and that society that we are creating has a place for all proud and brave people that are willing to embrace all of those that are being excluded, beaten up and humiliated. We have shown that this is a country for all of us and that being on the right side of history means to stand on the side of equality and defense of dignity for all of us.
We are proud that today persons that are becoming adults are growing up in a society in which Pride March of LGBTIQ persons and families is the most long-lived protest for human rights in Croatia and young persons are louder, braver and more visible in fight for taking new streets and safe spaces for all of us. We are here to give them that space and to show that there are many more of us that are fighting for freedom and equality than those that advocate for hierarchy and inequality. Regarding eighteen proud years, we are loudly sending a message: This is not just a “phase”, we are here, we exist, we are part of Croatian society and we are going nowhere!
And that is why, everyone and everybody off to a Pride – Saturday, June 8th @ 15:00, Mimara Museum!
The photo gallery from 18th Pride March is available here.