21-year-old Elma Muslic from Sarajevo sees queer icons of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as people who want to present their identities in a free way.
“My biggest role model is my sister, who is gay, she declares herself a lesbian. She has been an example of a free person for me all her life,” Elma told Radio Free Europe (RFE).
Elma stressed she is currently exploring her sexuality, so her sister instills courage in her to be what she is, and for her, she is the “queen queer” who motivated her to fight for human and civil liberties.
”Given that in my family my mother gives a lot of support to my sister, but my father is a classic patriarchy, a classic ‘Balkan father’. So it kind of bothers me that he is my father, with whom I am blood–related, and that he also represents a system that discriminates on the basis of how someone declares themselves, “ mentioned Elma, who came to see the exhibition” Who are the queer icons of BiH?”.
The gallery where the exhibition is set up is actually the private apartment of a member of the Odron organization. The organization says that it is a kind of underground queer gallery in Sarajevo.
Namely, the organizers and visitors of the exhibition are happy that the gallery offers young artists a space to exhibit their works that are of great importance to society.
“Because there are so many queer galleries in Berlin, so many public queer spaces, we have to say that Sarajevo, since the closure of facilities like the Art Cinema Criterion, has really been left without public, safe spaces. There is no safe queer house in Sarajevo, claims Elme Muslija, director of the gallery.
“We have to think about whether a trans person can exhibit anywhere in this city, whether that person can exhibit his works in the Art Gallery of BiH? Of course not, and so there are spaces like this for such things,” adds Elme.
Elme estimates that there is a lot of talk in BiH about feminism, and intersexuality, and asked himself: “Does the grandmother from the Carsija (Bascarsija, the old part of the city of Sarajevo) Know what that means, do ordinary people understand different content?”
“If someone asked me how to explain what queer is, I would definitely say that it is anyone who resists a patriarchal, heteronormative society. People don’t need to belong to the LGBTQ + spectrum to be queer, all people who are allies are also queer. Because in a way they provide resistance somehow together with these people, “ Elme explained, adding that queer rounds out a lot of things and can’t just be reduced to sexuality.
For Lejla Huremovic, a member of the organizing committee of the BiH pride parade, queer icons of BiH are people who come out of socially imposed norms and patriarchal behavior.
“Actually, queer icons of BiH represent everything that speaks about freedom and removing the shackles. I could not name a public figure, although there are those who break all those shackles, but for me, every LGBTQ person is actually a queer icon, courage, and genius of that society. Waking up every morning in a society where they try not to accept us is great courage and pride,” noted Lejla.
Dina Bajraktarevic, who is also a member of the BiH pride parade committee, believes that queer icons are all people who do not promote hatred, who are in solidarity, change this society for the better, and understand and accept differences.
“Queer icons are also all LBGTQ people who live in BiH and who live bravely and every day in their identities, and who are not afraid to go public, and those who are afraid, understandably because of certain violence that is happening. We still live in a hetero-patriarchal society,” Dina added.
Lejla mentioned at the end: “It’s still the perception of the paradeas something that is not a protest, but looks like a whim or a carnival of the LGBTQ community. They still don’t understand that this is really the community’s need to come out and point out the problems it faces.”, RSE writes.