Gay Shqiptar?! What?!

Some of you might have read my Facebook and Twitter updates regarding this topic. I have decided to gather my thoughts and feelings into this one blog post. I always strive to give gay Albanians a face, but I don’t want to shove it in anyone’s face on Facebook or Twitter either.

I am an Albanian man. I was born here in the United States. My parents are from Kosova. I also happen to be a gay man. A lot of people might think, so what? What does one have to do with the other? A lot! And not in a good way either.

I will be the first to say that I take pride in my ethnicity. I believe, for the most part, that we have a beautiful and rich culture. We do have some antiquated beliefs that boggle my mind a bit. No one is perfect though. The negative views of homosexuality is what I take strong issue with. I have been an out and proud gay man since I was 17 years old. I have definitely faced some challenges from people who had difficulty accepting I am gay.

Out of all of those people who took issue, my own people sadden me. For an Albanian, to say you are gay brings shame to your family. “Zoti” meant for a man and woman to be together.” Not man with man or woman with woman. I’ve argued with my fair share of Albanians because of this. Some even had the nerve to tell me that I am not Albanian because I am gay. I’ve also heard I am a disgrace to Albanians.

You know what is a disgrace to Albanians? Showing intolerance toward your own people and hating them because of the way they were born. I have had my nationality denounced by other Albanians. For quite sometime I was so embarrassed and hated being Albanian that I went by the name “Val Truman.” I didn’t really care to associate with people who hate me and talk shit about me for something I can’t help. As I have matured and gotten older, I have gained a new appreciation of where I come from, and I just dismiss the negativity.

Sometimes it’s hard though. I work with several Albanians, and except for one girl, no one ever talks to me.  They make it really uncomfortable, and to be honest it’s annoying. I’ve said hello, nothing. I sent them welcome emails when they started to make them feel comfortable, nothing. What I do get though is awkward avoidance of eye contact, and obviously uncomfortable feeling when we are in close quarters like an elevator. Not too long ago, one of them had just got married and someone had bought him a Congrats wedding balloon. I walked by it on my way to get coffee and looked it for a second to make out what it said. When I came back around, it was tied down and out of sight. Seriously?

That is the part that really gets to me. I think of the ethnic cleansing that happened in Kosova during the Clinton administration. Many Kosovar Albanians were tortured and slaughtered because of Serbia’s nonacceptance of them. Naturally, one would think that with that disgusting act forever imprinted into our culture’s history, that we would come together and show unity, love, and support for one another. But instead people who are “different” than societal standards (not just gay people) are quick to be judged and not accepted. I understand that most Albanians, regardless of religion, are a devout group. But I think it is forgotten that we are Albanian first.

How are we supposed to have others’ respect us if we cannot even respect ourselves?

Here are a couple of links from threads on Topix.com to check out. They give you an idea of things Albanians like to say to other Albanians who are gay.

http://www.topix.com/forum/world/albania/TFNK23LB2CM195PTG

and

http://www.topix.com/forum/world/serbia/TU56VJBE4M9NM11LD

I think I am a good person. I work hard and put myself through school. I don’t bother anyone. I don’t think I deserve be considered less than anything but a human being.

To be honest, I am pretty fortunate. Over in the old country, forget it! You could get beat up, possibly killed, or forced into marriage of the opposite sex! There is a whole underground world in Albanian, Kosova, and Montenegro that the LGBT community have to live in. At least with me being born and living and America, there are plenty of accepting Albanians. I know it sounds dumb, but I actually really take pride in all of my Albanian friends and have the utmost respect for them. They are much more open and accepting. They like me for me. Everything else is trivial.

I have sort of made it a personal goal to remind my Albanian brothers and sisters that gay Albanians do exist. We are your children, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and whoever else you have in your life. All we want is what you want, to be loved and part of this huge and crazy family called Albanians.

14 thoughts on “Gay Shqiptar?! What?!

  1. And I am so, so proud that you are a Kosovan Albanian. You write so beautifully and I love you as you are and for what you are (not in a gay way though, sorry, ha ha, not gay myself!!!), because I love all Albanians regardless of their origins, gender, religion or sexual orientation. I am proud to also be Kosovan Albanian myself.
    Lots of love to you from UK my compadre.

  2. Amazing! I’m always happy to see other out Albanians! I wish i had known some out, queer Albanians as i was struggling with coming out to my family while living among the albanian diaspora when i was younger. Lovely of you to write an article on the topic 😀

  3. Very well written, as anything that comes from the heart is beautiful! I’ve known and know many gay Albanian men and a few even asked me to pose as their girlfriend in front of their family members, very hard and complex situations, no envy here that’s for sure. While we are a loving, cultured , and intellectual community , we are also, unfortunately the first ones to judge anyone and anything! As long as you have a good heart and do no harm to anyone keep your head up!!!

  4. Great article man.
    Just so you know there are plenty of gay albanians in Kosovo now, it’s sad that they have to hide their true self coz of some conservative people, but all albanians are not like that and they don’t share the same opinion.
    And nowdays they tend to come out more frequently even though it’still tough considering the fact that there are bunch of other big problems that we face everyday.
    It is kinda strange in a way when you think that 50 plus years ago, albanians were a lot more tolerant in this manner.
    Gays were accepted in a society and they even had songs dedicated to them, in okder days they were called dylber, you can still find those songs on youtube.
    Anyways you have have a great day and if you feel like u need an albanian friend who is straight by the way lol feel free to write me and maybe we can have a coffe or something in Prishtina☺

  5. Your voice, added to others, is what will make changes in both the country of your parents birth, as well as yours! Thank you for sharing so eloquently.

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  7. This is amazing article , being Albanian gay man myself from Kosovo living in London i can relate to this article so much ,I grow up in Kosovo and it was so difficult to accept myself first , i knew i was different maybe since i was 7-8 , obviously i didn’t know what it meant util my teens when i realised that i like boys , have to keep it secret for all my life , had so many thoughts and difficult moments still do sometimes , even tho i am proud to be gay man I still not open gay to my family back home , but that will change soon i won’t spent my whole life living a lie , I deserve to be happy and myself and they deserve to know who real me it is .
    living in London is easier for me i guess I know how difficult it is for gay people in Kosovo .
    if any gay man or women is reading this you should know that you not alone , there are thousands and thousands of people like you we are just as everybody else , being gay doesn’t define who you are , being gay is not choice , if it was choice why would be chose to be
    discriminated , why would be chose to live in fear , why would we chose never to allow yourself to fall in love and let all your friends know that , if you use your logic you know is something you born with , don’t ever be ashamed of who you are , I wish theres more forums were we can talk and help each other when we go through tough time , if anyone feel depressed or need to talk reply back exchange your worries and thoughts , we should be theres for each other cos right now no one is there for us , i hope things will change in near future , i hope we will be accepted more .
    Valdet I think you are very brave man to share your story so publicly with us , this will help lots Albanian gay man and women to know that they’re not the only ones out there , so thanks for that i will follow this page and subscribe so should everyone else
    Love always wins

    • Thank you for sharing your story Matt! That means a lot! I applaud your willingness to come out to your family. That’s definitely a tough thing to do. You already have a friend in me so I’m there for you if you need anything.

      I think you’re on to something. We need a forum for gay Albanians to connect and talk. I’ll get to work on that immediately!

      • I appreciate your reply , definitely I will follow this and i hope more gay man and women come forward and share their stories , going through difficult time myself i relate to every single of them and willing to help in any way possible
        keep the good work you are doing , will have huge impact on people back home
        i am looking forward to keeping touch with you and everyone else who need any advise .

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