Monday, October 4, 2010

European Prides Diary: 9th Slovak LGBT Film Festival

Clare Dimyon MBE is doing a travelogue of her latest European tour. Here is an account of her travels in Slovokia. Previous entries can be found here.

29 Sept 2010: Arrival at the 9th Slovak LGBT Film Festival

I feel great excitement as the bus from Vienna rounds the bend to reveal the classic view of the Slovak capital, the Hrad, the castle housing the parliament, and the iconic bridge of Bratislava, renamed the “Rainbow Bridge” after it formed the main route of the first ever Dúhový (rainbow) PRIDE last May. Four months later I am on my way to the 9th Slovak LGBT Film Festival, with a fabulous programme of films, plenty of films from the English speaking world films but also LGBT films from Latin America, Germany and the Netherlands as well as films from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia including one about that Rainbow Bridge and the stunning PRIDE hosted by Slovak LGBT people and their friends and families. I get a bit lost on the trams and someone offers to help, then she recognises me and we realise we met at PRIDE!

After catching up on some sleep at the hotel the gay owner takes me to the opening ceremony, stopping en route at the gay bar he also runs and I meet the staff who are as “camp as Christmas” and while their English is halting (and my Slovak is worse!) it is astonishing to reflect that we are very identifiably one people something I have noticed across Central & Eastern Europe from Moldova to Macedonia. I feel very relieved for them that they have a gay employer and some financial independence so that they can be themselves. The hotel owner tells me, again in halting English, that his whole family know and indeed we have a drink with his uncle and brother-in-law. He says it’s been easier since he had the hotel, he is becoming well know in his neighbourhood for his excellent lunches and people are positively sending their clients to the gay hotel for lunch. It’s hard not to feel rather proud of this gay business, which is reaching out to his neighbours and generating positive acceptance for LGBT people. He says he can’t afford it yet but he’d like to have flags outside the hotel, the national flags as usual but also including the rainbow flag.

At the opening ceremony of the Slovak LGBT Film Festival, there are rainbow flags a plenty and a photographic exhibition and we are treated first to an amazing latin dance routine and then some speeches including a very impressive speech from the Dutch ambassador, who explains that her sponsorship of the festival is in keeping with the Dutch government’s promotion of the human rights of LGBT people and mentions that Dúhový PRIDE Bratislava was her first experience of getting tear gas in her eyes. The Slovak LGBT Film Festival is not only supported by the US, Dutch Irish and Nordic countries but also by the Hungarian Institute of Culture and by the Slovak Ministry of Culture who declare that they are proud to “support initiatives aimed at preventing discrimination in Slovak society, that contribute to the integration of LGBT people and to challenge myths and stereotyped views about them.” All this is a great tribute to what has already been achieved by Slovak LGBT and I wonder if it is possible to feel prouder.

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