May 14, 2004: Headlines: COS - Moldova: Gay Issues: Gay MD: OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: May 14, 2004: Headlines: COS - Moldova: Gay Issues: Gay MD: OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

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OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

OUT, LOUD and PROUD in Moldova

Moldova’s LGBT community celebrated its third annual Pride weekend in Chisinau, Moldova on May 14, 15, and 16. We offer you impressions of Molly Lamphear, a Peace Corps volunteer living in Chisinau and working with GenderDoc-M.

This is the second Pride event that I have attended in Moldova. I was not able to attend all the events, but I did go to and participate in several. The first day’s highlight was a seminar for lesbian women representing the CIS countries. Three countries, Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova, were represented with about 20 participants. It was hoped that Belarus would have a representative, but they were unable to find funding. GenderDoc-M psychologist, Liliana Raileanu, welcomed the guests on behalf of GenderDoc-M, and Olesea Bondarenko, program coordinator for lesbian issues at GenderDoc-M, gave an overview of the purpose of the conference and invited all in attendance to introduce themselves.

Each of the three countries represented gave a summary of what the lesbian community in their countries was engaged in. Moscow’s lesbian community is quite large. The woman who spoke about the situation in Russia is a journalist and very active within the lesbian community. There are many programs for lesbians in Moscow from psychological counseling to sporting events to social get-togethers. She did note, however, that when you go outside the more cosmopolitan and liberal confines of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the situation for lesbians is not so comfortable. The two women who came from Ukraine also expressed a need for better communication between all former Soviet countries since most share very similar experiences. Representatives from Moldova spoke on the progress of human rights in that country and additional information was given about the growth of the lesbian movement in Moldova.

Ms. Joke Swiebel, Member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, was able to arrive after the press conference and gave a talk about human rights and the need to work together for a common purpose. She emphasized the need to work with other NGO’s, community leaders, and activists to provide a broad basis of support for human rights and for gender rights. The Helsinki Committee on Human Rights is actively supporting the rights of all minorities, and as more and more countries enter the European Union, there will be greater protection of the LGBT community worldwide. Ms. Swiebel was an inspiration to the women who attended the seminar.

Finally, there was a general discussion of the problems that lesbians face – coming out, work, having a family, discrimination, etc. Because of lack of time, the manifesto which was planned to be an end result of the seminar was not written but would be talked about later.

The overall feeling from the conference was one of support and friendship.

The women’s seminar ended at about four in the afternoon, in time for everyone to attend the Opening Ceremony that was held at a local club. There was a colorful march of the flags of those countries represented, a dance choreographed and performed by Sasha Pilikov, a GenderDoc-M volunteer, and a variety of other singers and dancers, including Nellie Ciubano, a very well-known singer in Moldova. Over 100 people attended this colorful event.

Saturday was taken up with a conference at which a number of people spoke, including representatives from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Italy, Holland, Sweden, and the United States. Topics ranged from psychodrama to funding to human rights, etc. This conference was attended by Ms. Joke Sweibel who made the opening address. I spoke briefly about the effect of recent gay marriage legislation in several states on the upcoming general elections for US president.

In the afternoon a spirited football match was held between men and women. By football, I mean soccer. It was played on an indoor basketball court and the play was much quicker and high scoring than regular soccer. Both teams competed well, and the end result was a victory for the men.

That evening, a Pink Party was held at Shola for the women Pride attendees. The affair was sponsored by the restaurant Shola whose owner is a member of the Board of Directors of GenderDoc-M. Members of Yuga Nova, GenderDoc-M’s club of lesbian activists, put up an outstanding display of photographs that they had posed for and produced. All the guests at the party were asked to be judges and prizes were given at the end of the evening for the three best photographs. It was a perfect opportunity to share stories and make new friends in a very comfortable and hospitable setting. I would say that about 70 women attended this event. It was planned to have one of the women who is a songwriter and singer perform, but everyone was having such a good time mixing and talking that this performance was put on hold for another occasion. Ms. Sweibel and her partner came to the party after they had attended another open house, and she was inundated with questions about lesbian life in Holland and the rest of the world. It showed me how isolated these young women feel in countries where gays and lesbians are still thought to be mentally ill and/or disreputable.

I didn’t attend the sessions on Sunday, but I know that GenderDoc-M’s psychologist led four very interesting sessions related to psychodrama, addressing four separate subjects.

Sunday night, Haos was the setting for a boisterous disco that culminated in the crowning of Miss Flawless! I went to last year’s affair, but just couldn’t get to this one. I did, however, see a video, and it looked like the judges had a very difficult time choosing just one “Miss Flawless”!

There were approximately 400 participants in this year’s Pride activities. Aside from a group of evangelical Christians who tried to bar people from attending the disco, there were no incidents. In fact, the group that was demonstrating in front of Haos gave quite a lot of publicity to GenderDoc-M’s work because at least one TV station aired it on their news broadcast. The people who were interviewed on GenderDoc’s behalf were very well spoken and calm – their appearance will change many people’s perceptions, I think, about homosexuality in Moldova.

Plan to visit Moldova next year for the fourth annual Pride event. You will be welcomed by a hospitable and courteous group of men and women.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Gay MD

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; Gay Issues



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