Reflecting on Stockholm Pride 2014: Perspectives from Moldova and Transnistria

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day (NCOD) an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating ‘Coming Out’ and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. Many of Civil Rights Defenders colleagues and partners work in regions where they face daily threats of discrimination as a result of the work they do and because of their sexual orientation.

In August, Civil Rights Defenders participated for the first time in Stockholm’s 2014 Pride Festival. Volunteers and participants from all over Europe joined us as we welcomed our friends and partners from Russia, the Western Balkans, and Moldova. For many of our visitors, Stockholm Pride represented the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is often impossible in their home countries.

We are honored to share three reflections from participants who took part in the Pride Parade under the Civil Rights Defenders banner.

Participants from Moldova and Transnistria at Stockholm Pride 2014

Participants from Moldova and Transnistria at Stockholm Pride 2014

Anastasia – Chisinau, Moldova: Stockholm Pride is not just an event for people; it’s the people who make the event beautiful, unique, and special. It’s not just a celebration for the LGBT community, but it involves everyone, including many children with their parents. There is no hate, no aggression, just happiness, joy and love. I was so proud to be there and it felt wonderful to be a part of this celebration. It was an honor to wave the Moldovan flag and hold the Civil Rights Defenders banner. It was hard to come back to another reality, where at the airport in Chisinau, I knew I could not openly express my feelings towards my girlfriend who was waiting for me. But this Pride has given me hope and the strength to make changes happen for the LGBT community in Moldova.

Artiom – Chisinau, Moldova: It was my first time participating in Stockholm Pride, so I didn’t have any initial expectations. However, I was blown away by the whole experience. During that week, you could see almost every person embracing diversity and celebrating equality. I was speechless the moment I saw a myriad of rainbow flags fluttering on the rooftops of government, business and private buildings, and placed on the tops of public buses and by the doors of convenience stores. Finally I was in a place where my identity would not bring me harm, but rather where it would be celebrated, thus enriching the local community. I was proud to represent Moldova and march on the streets of beautiful Stockholm. I felt free to be myself, which is such a contrast to how my Moldovan LGBTQ brothers and sisters feel at home.

Zhenya – Tiraspol, Transnistria: Before participating in Stockholm Pride, I did not know much about such activities for the LGBT community in Europe, as I work in a different sphere that has never touched on the issues LGBT persons face. I was interested to see the Pride Festival and LGBT culture there. I considered myself a little homophobic and wondered how I would react. Before I knew it, I was leading the section of the Pride Parade with my Moldovan colleagues and carrying the Civil Rights Defenders banner. I was amazed by the number of people who had come to celebrate love and equality in an atmosphere of acceptance and peace. I remember how I walked back to the hotel that night with a hat from the Parade still on my head. As I approached the hotel with guests sitting outside, I thought that perhaps I should take the hat off but the thought quickly left my head. I realised in that moment that I have never walked the streets of my own town with such a feeling of freedom.

Categories: News.
Tags: Coming Out, LGBT, LGBT rights, Moldova, Stockholm Pride, Sweden, and Transnistria.
Regions: All regions.