It’s none of your business: a mantra for LGBTQ acceptance

The thoughts of a straight woman on LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe

“I do me, and you do you”. Words of wisdom that are often used in the Netherlands – the country that legalized gay marriage in 2001. However, the topic of LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe is often met with pitchforks and angry mobs holding torches. Well, not really, but close enough. Here are the thoughts of a straight Eastern European woman on how minding your own business will not only improve the lives of gay people but also your own.

A Straight Person’s Guide to LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe

Now don’t get me wrong! I am fully aware that this topic is one that has multiple layers to it, and in no way can one straight girl do it justice. I am not here to talk about the struggle that LGBTQ people face on a daily basis in Eastern Europe. Nor am I here to talk about how hard they are currently fighting for their right to be accepted. That is someone else’s story that I would gladly read about one day on this space. However, what I can do is provide some insight into how acceptance can bring about so much joy to both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Think of this as a straight person’s guide to LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe. It all starts with: “It’s none of your business”

 

The Problem of LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe

Before we can even talk about minding our own business and letting the LGBTQ community thrive, it’s important to understand where the problem stems from. Growing up, I think I had one of the best introductions to what “gay” means compared to other children in Bulgaria. I actually remember it very well too. I was maybe five years old, watching TV with my family when suddenly a music video starts playing. It was a song by Marius Kurkinski – a very flamboyant Bulgarian music icon of the 90s. From then on the conversation went on like this:

Someone in the room: “He’s gay!”

My 5-year-old ass: “What does gay mean?”

My dad rather nervously: “It means he likes men.”

Me: “Ok.”

And that was it. While we never really spoke about it ever again, in my 5-year-old mind this was a very simple truth. The word “gay” did not have any negative connotation to it. However, I was one of the lucky ones.

Growing up, I noticed that a lot of my peers not only knew what “gay” meant from an early age. They also knew all the ugly synonyms that went along with it. They used them to offend whoever was considered a bit of an outcast. I would also often hear the male figures in their families throw around homophobic slurs as if it were something normal to say in front of a child.

But at the end of the day, all of this was justified. After all, we are an orthodox society in which gender norms are predetermined by our religion. Therefore the roles of masculinity and femininity must be strictly followed. To this day patriarchy is still rather predominant, and those guidelines still dictate our society making it really hard for LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe.

 

“Think of the children” Eastern Europe’s favourite excuse against the LGBTQ community

While the patriarchy is still deeply rooted within Bulgarian society, it wouldn’t be fair to say we aren’t making progress. Women are killing it in the workplace. Men are helping around the house. Raising the children is no longer only the mom’s responsibility. The future is ours, guys! But why can’t we be so progressive when it comes to the LGBTQ community? I’ve had that conversation multiple times and one particular answer always strikes me. We are doing it to protect our children.

How will we explain to them why two men are kissing?

If they are adopted in a gay family they might be bullied in school? 

How will they fit into their proper gender stereotype if they are raised in a family where they do not have a representative of that gender? 

To that, I always try to counteract.

The two men are kissing because they love each other.

It’s better to be adopted in a gay family, than for a child to spend its life in an orphanage. The sooner gay adoption becomes accepted, the less chance there will be for a child to be bullied.

Gender stereotypes, in general, are falling apart, so soon enough that won’t even be an issue.

So at the end of the day what are we protecting our youth from? A happy world where people are free to love whoever they want, children are being adopted at a higher rate and receive the amazing opportunity to grow up in a loving family. Sounds pretty good to me.

 

A progressive future: minding your own business is the key to LGBTQ acceptance in Eastern Europe

Now to the best part: learning to mind your own business. While that may seem like oversimplifying a very complex issue and believe me I know it is, just bear with me. Minding your own business is actually the first step to LGBTQ acceptance within the general public. While I avidly support all of those who often speak in favour of gay rights and attend Pride, I do understand that not everyone is at that stage of acceptance. That is where the art of keeping your opinion to yourself comes in handy.

When I say mind your own business, I do not mean simply not giving a fuck. This should in no way be mistaken with indifference. My definition of minding my own business is actually more along the lines of “let people do whatever makes them happy, as long as they are not hurting anyone”. I have found this concept to be specifically thriving in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage, marijuana and prostitution are all accepted. Everyone is free to do their own thing without being judged by others and maybe that is part of the reason why the Netherlands is among the happiest countries in the world.

The Dutch have made minding their own business the ultimate way of accepting others with all of their quirks. After all, we all have the right to be happy as long as we are not harming others. So if there is someone at your work, your university, or any person on the street who is simply living his/her truth, it is not your place to restrict that. In fact, it should be held with respect towards your fellow human being. We are all fighting our own battles so why make it harder on each other.

 

In conclusion…

So next time you find yourself in a situation where the topic of the LGBTQ community pops up, stop and think for a second. Even though you might think it’s disgusting or unorthodox, at the end of the day this is someone else’s life and not yours. The moment you accept that is the moment you free yourself from all the hatred you’ve been holding within. It is a truly liberating experience that will make you and everyone else truly happy. So in those moments, just remember one of my favourite sayings.

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

 

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