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Let's just Parade, babe…

When I think of Eastern Europe I think of painfully beautiful lithe young men with carefree attitudes about the adult film industry, engaging in gloriously erotic scenarios that have turned them into gay celebrities across the globe. The Bel Ami boys, for example. You can pop into a café from Chelsea to Castro and engage in a discussion with a complete stranger on the subject. Conversely, I’ve come to think of aggressive homophobia and street beatings tacitly condoned by the Serbian Orthodox Church.  I’m guessing their dogma leads its followers in prayer, something to the key of, “Dear Jesus, beat them. Amen.”

So when I look at Serbia, and its first gay pride parade held in 2001, being broken up by punks, or, as they’re affectionately known ‘soccer hooligans’, I get confused. Again the whole Bel Ami thing is giving me a totally other image of that region.

Any self respecting Gay, with their wits about them, knows you’ve got to fight back sometimes. So we might as well do it with the most powerful tool Western Society has invented, the Rom Com. It made Gerard Butler a household name, and he’s perennially out of shape. Which brings us to Srdjan Dragojevic’s weapon of homosexual indoctrination (kidding!) THE PARADE. It’s about a gay couple in Belgrade, one of whom drives a pink car and sips tea with his pinky extended in pure backstairs refinery. The lead couple procure protection from their least likely source, local thugs with a military history and ties to the underworlds. And to everyone, or no one’s, surprise the film was a total blockbuster in the region. I don’t know about you, but where were the Bel Ami screenwriters  for this one? Talk about a softball set-up.

The 2010 Belgrade Pride parade ended in a full-blown riot, complete with looting and overturned cars set on fire, it left 150 people injured. Lots of tracksuits, but where were the pom poms? Last year’s was cancelled out of “concern” for everyone’s safety. I’m not one to point the finger at a potentially corrupt and bigoted institution, like a church that’s really into holding on to some empty sense of power—quelle surprise—but then again, I kind of am. Reciting trite segments of Leviticus and Corinthians like a broken record can only lead to one outcome. And it’s not very disco. Meanwhile the church awarded Interior Minister Ivica Dacic a White Angel for canceling the event.

THE PARADE set out to show the Balkans that gay people are just like everyone else. So if we can’t change the minds of the people that misunderstand homosexuality immediately, at least the conversation has been initiated. And we can focus on something more than the aforementioned lithe young men with difficult to pronounce names that seem to magically roll off the tongues of gay men stateside. Both are pretty hot.

THE PARADE premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see it soon.