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I spend the majority of my time here on the blog writing about the colossal failures of the government, and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that Romania hasn’t really been a democracy since June 1990. But there is one really big issue that has nothing to do with corrupt politicians or stupid leaders.
I really don’t like discussing it because it’s a tragic combination of ignorance and hate, and reflects poorly on most Romanian people. Throwing barbs at the government is easy because there are so many juicy targets. But I love Romanian culture, and it’s not easy to point out a major flaw in something you love.
But if Andreea Balan has the courage to discuss it, then I can too.
We’ll start in the Republic of Moldova, where a bumbling, corrupt government with an illegitimate prime minister apparently has nothing better to do than fan the flames of hatred and intolerance:
Late last month, the parliament’s Culture and Education Committee approved a bill that would impose fines for spreading “homosexual propaganda” to minors “through public meetings, the media, the Internet,” and other means.
“What we are talking about is the public impact,” Socialist deputy Vlad Batrancea told RFE/RL. “We want to ban the propaganda of this phenomenon because there is the danger that children might fall victim to it in schools. This danger is real because so many parents are working abroad and the children left behind are vulnerable to such actions.”
First of all, this ban (identical to a 2013 law in Russia) is ridiculous. Children in RM don’t even have sexual education classes, homosexual or otherwise, so there’s no need to fear that some “evil propaganda” is going to corrupt their fragile minds.
Secondly, I “love” the idea that somehow propaganda on the internet (or anywhere else) is going to affect whom a person falls in love with. I’ve had my fair share of relationships throughout the years and I can honestly say that reading some shit on a blog had zero influence on who I was attracted to.
On the other hand, the Russian propaganda inciting hatred and fear against homosexual people is unbelievably pernicious. My mother-in-law is a big consumer of Russian television and some of the things she tells me that are “facts” about gay people are patently ridiculous. I think it’s fair to say she has a better grasp of aerodynamics than she does homosexuality, and she’s never even flown on an airplane.
The whole thing would be laughable, if it weren’t so hateful:
On May 21, Moldovan LGBT activists and supporters tried to hold a march in Chisinau. The event was interrupted by egg-throwing counterdemonstrators, including Orthodox clergymen.
I’m trying to remember the Bible passage where Jesus recommends throwing things at people. Oh, right.
The situation is only marginally better in Romania, where at least gay pride parades are allowed to happen occasionally despite the Orthodox church doing everything possible to block them.
Meanwhile, at least three million people in Romania have signed a petition to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriages, even though the constitution already prohibits it.
If you’re Romanian and you don’t believe this fact and are too lazy to read your own constitution, click here.
Ignorance, Fear and Hate
These are the facts on the ground. But the truth is that many Romanians and Moldovans have no strong feelings whatsoever, mostly because they erroneously assume that they don’t know any gay people.
So let’s put on some gloves and delve into the mindset of people who are viciously and energetically filled with hate for their friends, family members and neighbors. I’ll use this blog post as a good example of the mindset we’re dealing with here.
How are these people going to have children, these homosexuals that she [Andreea Balan] say she loves, supports and encourages? What they should know, Andreea Balan and all those supporters of LGBT people, is that homosexuals cannot have children! That is to say, they’re a special kind of subspecies or category of people who do not love the human race, another person or children, and don’t even want to have their name and blood [genetics] passed on.
Lord. Ok, first of all, homosexual people can and do have children all the time. In the case of men, it may be as a result of an earlier relationship (with a woman). In the case of women, it may be the result of an earlier relationship (with a man) or as the result of artificial insemination. Likewise, homosexual people can also adopt children.
And yes, all of the above already is happening in Romania, even though of course it’s largely kept secret because of all the hateful attitudes in this society.
Therefore, while I’m still not sure why passing on your family name and genetics is a prerequisite for “loving the human race”, it’s patently obvious that, if that IS the benchmark, then gay people are doing just fine.
Meanwhile, me personally, I’m not gay and I’m married to a woman, but we have no children (assuming you don’t count 3 cats and a dog :P) and I also took my wife’s name. I guess that means that I hate the human race then, eh? And that I’m incapable of love too.
And let’s not forget that most Orthodox priests are forbidden to either marry OR have children. So do they hate the human race too? *ahem*
More Romanian Myths About Homosexuality
Here’s another fun one: even gays oppose same-sex marriage!
Two main arguments are put forth by homosexuals against same-sex marriage. 1) Gay people just do not get “married” and 2) marriage, no matter what form it takes, whether between two people of the same sex or two people of different genders, is incompatible with the promiscuous lifestyle of homosexuals.
Uh, no. Gay people do get married in dozens of countries around the world. And last I heard, promiscuity seems to affect plenty of “straight” marriages in Romania. Just ask Adrian Mutu.
And when they grow up and go through a process called puberty, approximately 10% of the population will be gay. That was true in Ancient Rome (you know, the heroic culture that gave Romania its name), it’s true in western countries like America, and it’s true in Romania today and Saudi Arabia and anywhere else you go. Sometimes society is tolerant of it and sometimes it isn’t, but regardless of “propaganda” or the lack thereof, roughly 10% of the population will always be homosexual.
That means, of course, that 10% of your high school class was gay, 10% of your friends are gay, and there are approximately 4,500 politicians in Romania who are gay, including at least 55 members of parliament. Sound impossible? It’s called living in the closet, and it’s a really stressful thing to go through but that’s what you do when you’re living in a culture of intolerance, hate and egg-throwing priests.
The Bible condemns homosexuality!
Ah yes, the favorite hobbyhorse of every hateful Romanian. Of course, 99.99% of the “rules” in the Bible are completely ignored today by the Orthodox church like the ban on eating seafood and the rule about stoning your son to death if he contradicts you, but yes, let’s uphold a single mention in Leviticus against male homosexuality.
I’ve long contended that only atheists read the Bible and you can be damn sure that includes egg-throwing Orthodox priests. If you actually bother to open the book, you’ll see what it really says, including a steamy hot gay romance adventure between (King) David and Jonathan.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ, whom you might assume would be the ultimate authority on the right way to live, never mentioned homosexuality once. Indeed, Jesus spent most of his life embracing the marginalized, hated and outcast members of society.
If all the evidence in the Bible still isn’t good enough for you, let’s not forget that there are plenty of gay animals, which I guess either fell victim to “propaganda” or else God make a mistake when he created them. And we can assume that all those gay elephants and monkeys and ducks “hate” their own species too.
Therefore it’s pretty darn clear that egg-throwing Orthodox priests hate the Bible, hate Jesus, and hate God.
The Voodoo Priest Conundrum
So what exactly then is driving all of this hatred towards gay people? It’s not logic, Jesus, or science. Homosexuality barely exists on a public level in Romania, so why then did more than 3 million people sign a petition to drive it even further underground?
The answer is obviously complicated and multi-layered, but part of it is what I call the Tiger Paradox, otherwise known as the Voodoo Priest Conundrum.
Haiti is a very small and impoverished country in the Caribbean. Only a fraction of people in Haiti believe in Voodoo (today the spelling “Vodou” is preferred), and of that group, only a small number are priests of that religion.
And yet we all “know” what a voodoo priest is, don’t we? Countless books, movies and films have taught us that voodoo priests are evil, they put curses on people, they raise the dead, offer blood sacrifices to evil gods, and do all kinds of really bad and scary things. So you think you know what a voodoo priest is, even though, of course, you don’t. And you definitely would get freaked out if you learned that your new next-door neighbor was a voodoo priest.
Yet every day real voodoo priests conduct ceremonies that don’t raise the dead, curse people, kill anyone, or do anything else bad. Much of what voodoo priests do is sing and pray, almost all of it to help improve the lives of fellow believers. It’s almost entirely a peaceful religion, no different than any other in the sense that the divine is called upon to heal people, foster happy relationships, and offer guidance for how to live a good life.
It’s not much different when it comes to LGBTQ people. The people who hate and fear LGBTQ people are usually those who don’t know them, and yet they think they “know” them because of myths, movies and propaganda coming from the Orthodox church.
Once you get to know some LGBTQ people, you’ll find out that they’re just like anybody else: some really nice folks, some total assholes, some funny, some serious, and some who like to bake cookies. The only thing that makes them different is that they love people in a different way than you do.
So ignorance plus the mistaken belief that you do know what gay people are like = the first half of the equation for why so much hatred towards gays exists in Romanian culture.
The other half of the equation is what Alfred Kinsey called the sheep and goat scale 60 years ago.
To sum it up: almost nobody is exclusively gay or exclusively straight. However you divide the line between what’s “gay” and what’s not (penetrative sex? kissing? fondling? etc), people are almost never on just one side of that line. Sometimes they start out straight and enter into a gay relationship later. Sometimes they start with a homosexual relationship and then move towards heterosexuality. Other times it’s even more complicated than that.
Therefore, hatred against LGBTQ people isn’t just about vilifying people who are currently and openly gay but about the possibility that people might “become” gay, whether that’s for a day, the stay, or the rest of their lives.
When a person has a deep-seated insecurity about themselves, it often manifests as lashing out against others who have overcome or do not suffer from that same insecurity. If you’re shy, you might feel hatred towards people who talk loudly and confidently. If you’re embarrassed about how you look, you might feel hatred towards people who dress “provocatively”.
And if you’re fearful that you might be a “subhuman” who “doesn’t love the human race” because you love someone of the same sex, it makes sense that you’d hate people who have overcome that fear and are open and unashamed about their homosexuality. Because you don’t really hate them, you hate yourself.
Over the years, I can’t say I’ve ever been that big of a fan of Andreea Balan. She’s a mediocre pop singer who looks a little bit like Cristina Aguilera, although I did really like her old band Andre once upon a time.
But last weekend at the Gay Pride Parade in Bucharest, Andreea Balan became my hero by spontaneously going to the front of the parade and declaring that she supports the LGBTQ community in Romania.
Few media outlets in Romania knew how to handle this. On one hand, you’ve got a popular, straight star whom a lot of people like, and on the other hand, she’s openly supporting a hated segment of society. Click! wrote that she joined the “militants” and then spoke to the media.
My translation of what Balan said:
I’ve always been judged since I became a singer, judged for how I dress, that I dress too sexy, what I’ve said in interviews, the relationships that I’ve had, why I don’t get married, why I don’t have kids or start a family. I know what it’s like to be judged by the public and harassed on a daily basis for who you are, including how you were born. And over the years, it’s really affected me a lot. It also hurts me to see people who seem to live and breathe solely to make other people suffer for who they are. It is really hard for me to see the intolerance of people who don’t let others enjoy their life and be themselves. People are always on your case, telling you how to be or how to live.
I want to make it clear that I refuse to be victimized by the press or the public. I’m a fighter. And if I can fight for others too, I will do it! This is why I decided to support this social cause, because I support love and human rights above all else. And it would be really nice if people could understand that you don’t choose whom you love. Love is not a disease. We were born to be good people, not judge others. A good person doesn’t judge others, a good person helps others.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Balan on to say that she’d love her kids if they turned out to be gay.
Here is a sample of the feedback she received, with my translation:
Commenter: I’d like to see what would happen if your child was walking down the street and came across two people of the same sex kissing and then your child turned to you and said, “Mama, when I grow up, I want to be just like that!”
Balan: What I want for my child is to have a good life, to be a good person with principles and to grow up with a good education. It’s my child’s business whom they love, and who loves them. That’s all I want for my child, for them to be happy and healthy.
That’s what every parent should want for their kid.
Sing Along If You Know the Words
Let’s close this out with a song from 1999 from Ms. Balan that was a big hit when I first came to Romania:
Fac tot ce vreu, ca viata este grea…