Twenty prides together in comradery and resistance

On the 29th of June 2002, we – transgender, intersex, non-binary, gender non-conforming, asexual, pansexual, bisexual and queer people, gays and lesbians – came out against prejudice with our heads held high, fully aware of our human dignity and civil rights. On that day, which marked the first Croatian Pride March, we came out of silence once and for all and ceased to be invisible. From that day on, we have refused to be punching bags and laughing stocks!

Since 2002, united in comradery and solidarity, we have resisted heterosexism, patriarchy, political and day-to-day fascism, violence, hatred and discrimination. For two decades, we have been fighting for a just society of acceptance and equality before the law for all sexual and gender identities, and all forms of family and community.

Our twenty Prides have expanded the spaces of freedom for the LGBTIQ community. But they have done much more than that. Our twenty Prides have made our city and our Republic a better, more democratic and happier place to live for all citizens. By expanding the spaces of our freedom, we have made the entire society more free.

And while the LGBTIQ community has become a strong, responsible and a self-aware part of our country, our struggles are not over. Our Constitution and laws still do not recognize us fully and justly. Our streets and city squares are still not free from hatred. Even today, we are preyed on by brutes and bullies who stand on our necks while struggling to regain their lost power. Their hordes crawl along the margins of parliaments, social media and in the shadows of city parks. But this is no longer a world left to their mercy, and that it will never again be.

Today, fifth column transphobic demagogues and buffoons emerge from our own circles. But these are not their twenty years and none of them will ever see our community renounce our non-binary and trans siblings.

These are twenty years of the LGBTIQ community that, united by the power of comradery and solidarity, fought for the freedoms and rights we enjoy today. For the right to public visibility and the participation in political, cultural and social life; for the right to freedom of assembly free from threats and violence; for the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; for punishing hate crimes; for gender marker change and the right to live in one’s own gender identity; for life partnership, for family life, for co-parent adoption and the right to foster care. These are our twenty Prides!

We are proud of all our allies: health workers, lawyers, advocates, politicians, academics, all those who, in the past twenty years, have made us feel welcome in the spaces we dreaded because they were once in service of our persecution and punishment. We are proud of all those who stood by us when we were insulted and physically attacked. We are proud of all those who fought our legal battles before arrogant institutions. We are proud of all those who provided us with suitable health care devoid of superstitious moralizing. And we are proud of all those who fought fundamentalist charlatanism in schools and universities.

We are proud of our fellow workers who have watched our backs when we were threatened by homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. We are proud of those members of our families who have ignored outside pressure in hard times, and who have shown that the only true family value is unconditional acceptance.

Most of all, we are proud of ourselves, our entire community, all the queer people of this country. Not only because we have ensured the continuity of the Pride March despite numerous obstacles, but also because we live with our heads held high, bravely, in solidarity, unreservedly. We are proud of our youth who live their queer lives honestly and openly; of all our filmmakers, writers, all our designers, dancers, all our creatives who produce subversive and engaged queer art; of all our journalists who approach queer issues empathetically and informedly; of all our LGBTIQ workers who provide health and food, knowledge and progress, help of all kinds, and care without which this society, were it not for us, would be less courageous, less beautiful and less ethical.

And so, when they ask us how much longer we intend to march, we answer: we will march forever.

Pride forever!