Europe Trip #3

Europe Trip #2: Waking Up in Rome

Trip to Europe: #1

I have decided to share my upcoming trip to Europe with my friends. I will be heading to Italy, Kosovo, and Albania over the next three weeks.

 

LGBT Documentary “United in Love” – Kosovo

Being a gay Albanian is pretty tough. I should know because I am one! I was the first openly gay Albanian in the Detroit area to come out of the closet. Some people were fucking shitty about it. I know many Albanians said terrible things about me, and some said them to me. However, I am proud to be both Albanian and gay, so no one’s words will deter me from being happy and appreciating both cultures.

Check out my blog post for about my life as an out gay Albanian man: Gay Shqiptar?! What?!

This post is more about raising awareness. There is a group of brave men and women in Kosovo called QESh who are helping spread the word about the LGBT community. They are bringing awareness that the LGBT community exists, that we are just like everyone else, and that we should be treated as equals by our Albanian brothers and sisters. You can check out their Facebook here: QESh.

The problem is Kosovo’s societal view of homosexuality. Between religion and Albanian pride, being gay is severely frowned upon. QESh is doing a great job of letting people know that being is gay is not the evil and horrendous act against humanity and the Albanian culture that people make it out to be.

They created this wonderful documentary to show what it is like being LGBT and living in Kosovo as well as the legal and psychological views of the LGBT community. Interesting enough, the LGBT community is considered protected and equal by the law. Protection against discrimination sexual orientation is specifically listed in the Kosovo Constitution.

I remember what it was like when I first came out. In the 16 years that I have been out, I have personally seen the progress in the Albanian community when it comes our view on homosexuality. They’ve adapted and have become more accepting than ever before. Coming out was tough, but if trailblazing the way for progress was the outcome, then it was worth every nasty word and dirty look.

This tells me that what QESh is doing can and will work. They will help bring the Kosovo Albanian people into the modern age by spreading knowledge and awareness and help build a stronger Albanian community!

O Sa Mire Me Ken Shqiptar

This song is catchy as fuck lol!

Albania’s prime minister strongly supports the gay community (Repost)

I am reposting this article from here:

Dr. Sali Berisha, Albania’s prime minister, expressed his support of LGBT rights and gay marriage

22 APRIL 2013 | BY DAN LITTAUER

Albanian Prime Minister, Dr. Sali Berisha met with Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi, local gay activists, expressing his full support for LGBT rights in the country

Albanian Prime Minister, Dr. Sali Berisha met with local gay activists expressing his full support for LGBT rights in the country.

In the first ever meeting of its kind, Berisha, of the right-wing Democratic Party, welcomed today (22 April) two Albanian LGBT activists, Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi.

He is the first Albanian PM to do so, after being the first Albanian politician to have declared himself in favor of same sex marriage, almost 4 years ago, after the elections of 2009.

During the meeting he expressed his full support for the LGBT movement in Albania stating: ‘I have carefully followed all your actions and I think that you have, so far, responded in a very good way whenever that has been necessary’.

He added ‘it is important to believe in the cause you represent. […] To tell you the truth, [in the beginning] I have felt sorry when the debate about LGBT issues was going on and no one from the community was able to go publicly and defend the cause.

‘So, I really appreciate that you both have appeared on television and have brought the LGBT issues to public attention’.

Berisha also condemned a previous declaration of the vice-minister of defense Ekrem Spahiu who said gays should be beaten up with a stick.

The prime minister said: ‘This kind of declaration is unacceptable not only for a vice minister but for everyone’, adding that every politicians should express their views on LGBT rights without fear.

The two activists asked the prime minister about the recently proposed amendments of the penal code, which include the criminalization of hate speech and intentional harassment towards LGBT people through digital technology.

Berisha stated that he is carefully following the procedures and discussions for these amendments and he added that he is fully supporting them.

Karaj and Pinderi stressed the need to include civil society in discussing the work of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner institution.

They emphasized the gay rights groups, Aleanca LGBT and Pro LGBT are unsatisfied with institute’s performance.

Berisha said that his government will pursue to enforce Albania’s progressive anti-discrimination law.

Pinderi and Karaj also asked the prime minister if his is still committed to marriage equality, or at least in favor of gay civil unions as he stated four years ago.

Berisha gave his cautious support: ‘I don’t see any wrongdoing if they want to live with each other.

‘But don’t forget, that the job to breaking the ice [about gay marriage in Albanian] society is a job that will … need … time.

‘But what is important is that you are on the right track’, advising a non-confrontational attitude.

The prime minister guaranteed that LGBT rights could be more political and visible through events like Tirana Pride 2013, in September and public events during the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 may.

My thoughts:

As a gay Albanian man, I love this! I would be so happy and so proud of my people if they moved in the direction of LGBT acceptance! I wish I could be part of the LGBT civil rights movement in Kosova and Albania!

Happy Independence Day Albania! #100yearsAlbania

November 28, 2012 marks a historic day for Albanians everywhere. It is Albania’s Independence Day. This year however, is the 100 year anniversary that Albania gained it’s independence.

Albanians have a very long and rich history that dates back to around 1225 BC. Albanians are descendents of the Illyrian tribe. I believe the name “Albanian” comes from an Illyrian tribe called Arber, and then at some point became Albanoi.

From what I remember, Albania was always ruled by another country or empire through most of it’s existence. Albania was last under the Ottoman Empire before it gained it’s independence.

In the 15th century, a very famous hero came to be. His name was Gjergj Kastrioti. He is famously known as Skanderbeg to all Albanians. Under Skanderbeg’s command, he was able to fight the Turkish control/rule and kept Albania independent for a long period of time. At some point the Ottoman Empire regained their control on Albania and kept it that way for several centuries. I’d like to go in more detail, but I am trying to stick to a very broad overview.

In the spring of 1912, Albanian’s rose against the Ottoman Empire again and managed to seize Skopje, Macedonia. In October of that same year Montenegro declared war on Turkey which started a Balkan War. I am not sure of all the details regarding this war, but I know it was a big deal.

It was November 28, 1912 that Albania declared it’s independence! In May of 1913 Albania was formed as a new country.

Naturally, that is an enormous feat to celebrate! When Kosova gained it’s independence, it was the same thing. Years of control and oppression, lifted!

No one can ever say that Albanians are not a proud race. We certainly do love being Albanian.

We have such a beautiful and rich culture. Are we sometimes our own worst enemy? Sure. Who isn’t?

It doesn’t matter if you are from Albania, Montenegro, or Kosova. In the end, we are all Albanian. We all come from the Illyrian race. Let us celebrate this Independence Day together as Albanians! Let us use our Independence Day as a reminder of all the hardships we have faced and the triumpant victory that we fought so hard for! Many Albanians lost gave their blood, tears, and lives to get where we are today including our ancestors who I believe had a huge part in this. Let us always remember what this day really means. This is our day!

Happy Independence Day Albania!!!