Queer Balkans is a documentary video series tracing the lives, struggles and hopes of LGBTI people in the Balkans. Each episode will document and explore the day-to-day realities of members of the queer community. Through meetings with individuals from various backgrounds and LGBTI activists from across the region, we want to make the stories of this marginalized community more visible and accessible. Starting with Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade we aim to explore the sensitive questions of belonging haunting queer individuals there. In a region with already polarized ethnic, religious and cultural identities, our protagonists’ belonging is further complicated by gender identity and sexual orientation. What is more, LGBTI people are often forced to hide their true selves from family, friends and society. In spite of Serbia having an openly lesbian Prime Minister and Croatia recognizing registered partnerships for same-sex couples, LGBTI people face discrimination, hate speech and violence.
By filming their personal stories, we aim, however, to also trace the rays of hope and show the inspiring battles of some brave members of the community. Our goal is to challenge the common perceptions about the Balkans and LGBTI individuals alike. After 5 months of research and preparation, in March our team will travel to the region for the first phase of filming. Should the budget allow it, we hope to extend our project to further Balkan countries in the summer. As this is, however, an entirely non-profit university project, with a team comprised of students we need your support in order to make it happen. We have advanced part of our expenses and hope to recover some of them with the help of this crowdfunding campaign. We believe in the power of storytelling as a tool for change-making - if you do too, help us make the Queer side of the Balkans visible.
Damyana from Sofia, Bulgaria, is currently doing a Master in Islamic Studies. She's also Head of the Group "Southeast Europe" at the Heidelberg Institute for Conflict Research, where she has been volunteering since 2014. Stefan is a Croatian-Serbian raised in Prague. At the young age of 21 he has already published his first book “Why? Zašto?” - a somewhat autobiographical coming out story set in Serbia. Aleksandra is originally from Poland, but grew up in Germany. Like most of the group, she came to Berlin to do a Masters in Eastern European Studies. Her background is in Slavic studies, and she’s keen on languages, cultures and politics. Nada was raised with a Croatian-Bosnian background. After spending an Erasmus Semester in Zadar, she’s now as keen as ever on the Balkan region, which is why she chose to do Eastern European Studies at the FU Berlin, with a focus on culture. Hannah might not have any Eastern European background, but her experience with LGBTI activism and filmmaking make up for it. She has worked for the European Commission as a social media and video officer, while also being Vice President of Égalité, the LGBTI Staff Association of the EU Institutions.