Being Gay in Kosovo (Video)

 

Hello friends!

Happy Gay Pride in Pristina, Kosova! Today is the first annual Gay Pride in the country’s capital, and I am so excited about this!

As a gay Kosovar Albanian man, this is a huge deal! Several years ago I wrote a blog post to share my own experiences coming out as gay. I did that so I could share with people what is often unspoken about in our community, and more importantly, to possibly help others to let them know they are not alone. You can check that out here: http://rebelbeard.com/gay-shqiptar-what/

I created this video to share my support and experience and to also give some visibility around life in Kosovo as a gay person:

Check out this post that I had also shared chronicling some stories of what other gay people have experienced while living in Kosova as an LGBT person: http://rebelbeard.com/gay-life-in-kosovo/

I am so happy and so proud that Kosova is moving forward in such a progressive way and starting to lift the veil around LGBT people. I think this will start to humanize us to those who have vilified us as monsters that go against being Albanian or that bring shame to our families.

We are Albanian like you. We are human beings like you. We are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and even mothers and fathers.

<3 <3

 

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!

My Single Life #singleguyproblems

I have been single for the past 6 years. I’ve been so busy doing stuff for myself that it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t even worried about it or thinking about it. Until recently that is. For some reason, everyone has been reminding me that I am single lately.

Honestly, I’ve really been O.K. with being single. I never really thought it would be a permanent thing. After my break up with my ex, I just figured I was going through the “get to know yourself and grow” stage that usually comes with break ups. Only that stage took 6 years lol. A lot of great things happened though. I learned to become a stronger person. I learned what I wanted in life. I got into my awesome career of a Senior Training Consultant at Quicken Loans. I bought a house! I learned to budget and just be really independent. I’ve been hitting the gym to get into great shape. I worked through some of the bullshit in my own head. Once I did all of those things, my relationship status has become the next thing to focus on I suppose.

During that “growth” period I did meet a couple of guys that I liked. They never really panned out, but it was nice to know that I was able to put myself out there a little. I also learned that dating in the gay scene in Detroit is awful. There is no one out there. I do go out to the bars, but in reality you are less likely to meet someone at the bar than anywhere else. It is a stat I heard somewhere. Do I keep my eyes open when I go out? Of course I do!

I had always hoped that I would meet another gay Albanian guy to end up with. So the lack of gay scene in Detroit didn’t really bother me. However, meeting someone like me is nearly impossible thanks to our culture looking down on homosexuality. Gay Albanians just do not come out of the closet.

I had to admit to myself very recently that I can’t hold out for another Albanian guy to come along. I am fucking myself (literally and figuratively). However, between realizing that there is no one in the gay scene and there are no Albanian guys, I got hit with this huge wave of desperation. The feeling of “I am never going to meet anyone” hit me hard. I am 32 (almost 33). If I haven’t met anyone in the last 6 years, and I don’t meet anyone in the next 6 years, I’m fucked. I even caught myself contemplating guys’ advances that I am not even into.

In my desperation, I also found myself downloading Grindr, Scruff, Mister, OKCupid, and some other shitty apps. If you ever wanted to feel depressed, download those apps. Occasionally you “meet” someone cute, but they usually aren’t looking for what you are, or they aren’t interested, or you aren’t interested. I am also not very good at talking to guys “online.” I am an “in-person” kind of person. For a few minutes there, I was glued to my phone. Checking and waiting for messages from guys that may be interested in me. It didn’t really happen. The 40, 50, and even 60 year old single gay men looking for love or to fuck on those apps is a sad possibility of my future. I can’t be that. I won’t be that. I just uninstalled those apps.

Another challenge I discovered was myself. I am afraid that since I have been on my own for so long that I have become too independent. I do everything for myself. I am not even sure I would know how to knock back some of that independence if I met someone. I just do what I want when I want. I have the final say in everything related to me (unless it’s my mom lol). I think that is pretty hard to change. I would say this is the least of my concerns since I haven’t even met anyone to ponder how to change that.

The truth is I just may not end up with someone. The idea of true love and finding “the one” is nice, but it is a bit of a fairy tale. Not everyone ends up with someone. It just may not be in the stars for me. That is a crushing reality. Does that mean that I am going to just lay down and die over it? Not at all! I have started planning my life out to make it so adventurous and exciting! I want to take trips and try new things. I am going to make more friends and network so I am meeting my “socialization” quota as a human being.

I am not saying that it won’t happen, I am just saying that I need to prepare my life accordingly in case it doesn’t happen. I may not find love in someone else, but I can at least find love in myself.:

Gay People and Ignorant People

I have learned that gay people and ignorant people have one thing in common. They both come out of the closet at some point.

So far three people that I thought were my friends have come out as being anti-gay. Why do these people think it is OK to be friends with someone but completely disagree with who they are? This love the sinner hate the sin shit can suck my dick.

Let me raise everyone’s awareness: If you have friends on Facebook that are gay, and you post shit like this, you do not have friends that are gay. You have gay people who just don’t know they don’t like you yet.

Image

I just dropped this idiot I used to work with at Granite City. He isn’t very smart to begin with, so I think he was fed this belief from his ignorant family. Either way, he can go fuck off. PS, I don’t care about the cross part, it was the “deviancy” shit that pissed me off.

Who the fuck is ANYONE to judge or make an opinion about someone else? Because the Bible says so? Because your parents taught you that way?

I am not a deviant. I am a man who is just trying to make his way through life who happens to be attracted to men.

Westboro church founder Fred Phelps dies (finally)

Isn’t it funny that Fred Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church died so close to the International Day of Happiness? I know I’m super happy now!

Good fucking riddance to this guy! What a hateful monster! Look at the all of the poisonous family members he created that now spew out his intolerance and hate. I hope they all die a pitiful death like he did.  Even though he was excommunicated from his own church, he is to blame for all this evil they brought in the world!

This one is for you dickbag:

 

This is from CNN:

(CNN) — Fred Phelps — the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals — has died, the church said Thursday.

The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.

Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, in 1955 and molded it in his fire-and-brimstone image. Many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.

In a statement Thursday, the church chided the “world-wide media” for “gleefully anticipating the death.”

Photos: Pastor Fred PhelpsPhotos: Pastor Fred Phelps

“God forbid, if every little soul at the Westboro Baptist Church were to die at this instant, or to turn from serving the true and living God, it would not change one thing about the judgments of God that await this deeply corrupted nation and world.”

According to Westboro, the church has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Typically, a dozen or so church members — including small children — will brandish signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Phelps was often called “the most hated man in America,” a label he seemed to relish.

“If I had nobody mad at me,” he told the Wichita Eagle in 2006, “what right would I have to claim that I was preaching the Gospel?”

Under Phelps’ leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is God’s punishment for the country’s acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps had advocated for gays and lesbians to be put to death.

“Fred Phelps will not be missed by the LGBT community, people with HIV/AIDS and the millions of decent people across the world who found what he and his followers do deeply hurtful and offensive,” the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a statement.

Phelps began his anti-gay protests in Wichita in 1991 after complaining that the city refused to stop gay activities in a public park. He rose to national notoriety in 1998, when Westboro members picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming man who was tortured and murdered because he was gay. Phelps and his church carried signs that said Shepard was rotting in hell.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Westboro Baptist Church “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

In 2011, the Supreme Court upheld Westboro’s right to picket military funerals on free speech grounds. Congress and several states, though, have passed laws aimed at keeping church members at a distance from funerals.

In 2013, more than 367,000 petitioners called on the White House to legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. The White House called Westboro’s protests “reprehensible” but said that “as a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups.”

Anti-gay preacher once fought for civil rights

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, on November 29, 1929, Phelps had his sights set on West Point before he attended a Methodist revival. He said the sermon inspired him to enter the ministry.

“I felt the call, as they say, and it was powerful,” Phelps told the Topeka Capital-Journal in 1994. “The God of glory appeared.” Later, Phelps was ordained by a Southern Baptist church in Utah.

He bounced around several Christian colleges as his preaching and his theology took a hard right turn.

A Time magazine article from 1951 describes Phelps as a “craggy-faced engineering student” who harangued fellow students about the dangers of promiscuity and profanity.

Tim Miller, a professor of religious history at the University of Kansas who has studied Westboro Baptist Church, said Phelps liked to consider himself a “primitive Baptist preacher who held to the old ways.”

Despite its “Baptist” name, Westboro is not affiliated with any larger church denomination. Most Christians criticize the congregation’s harsh anti-gay rhetoric and penchant for pursuing the limelight at inappropriate moments.

Phelps married his wife, Marge, who survives him, in 1952. The couple moved to Topeka on May 4, 1954, the day the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated public schools.

Phelps interpreted that as a sign and soon began a law career that centered on civil rights, winning awards for his work and praise from local leaders.

“Most blacks — that’s who they went to,” the Rev. Ben Scott, president of the NAACP’s Topeka branch, told CNN in 2010. “I don’t know if he was cheaper or if he had that stick-to-it-ness, but Fred didn’t lose many back then.”

Phelps was disbarred from practicing law in state courts, however, after being accused of badgering a witness and making false claims in court affidavits. The Kansas Supreme Court said that Phelps “has little regard for the ethics of his profession.”

Phelps surrendered his license to practice law in federal courts in 1989, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal, after nine U.S. District Court judges filed disciplinary complaints against him.

Most of the members of Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church are members of his large family. Phelps has 13 children; 11 are attorneys. One son, Nathan, is estranged from his father and from organized religion. He is an atheist.

Nathan Phelps posted a Facebook message March 15 saying that his father had been excommunicated from the church. Later, though, Nathan Phelps said it was “unclear” whether his father had been expelled from Westboro.

A church statement issued on March 16 said that “membership issues are private” and that eight unnamed elders lead the congregation.

On Thursday, the church added, “Listen carefully; there are no power struggles in the Westboro Baptist Church, and there is no human intercessor — we serve no man, and no hierarchy, only the Lord Jesus Christ.”

For years, Phelps joked about the possibility that his own funeral would draw protests. During a sermon in 2006, he said a CNN reporter once asked how he would feel if that occurred.

“I’d love it. I’d invite them,” Phelps told the reporter, according to the Wichita Eagle. “I said: ‘I’ll put in my will to pay your way. But not first class.’ ”

But Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps’ daughter, said Westboro will not hold a funeral.

“We do not worship the dead,” Phelps-Roper told CNN.

CNN’s John Blake and Katherine Wojtecki contributed to this report.

Living Single In Gay Detroit

I will admit, at first I was hesitant to write this post. This is pretty personal. Then I though, why not? I am not the only single person out there. I am sure being single weighs on everyone’s mind. That was enough reason for me to go ahead and start writing this piece.

I am a 31 year old gay Albanian man living and working in Detroit. I have a great job, live on my own, and just loving life. I am very health oriented. I work out and eat healthy. I love to travel and want to do it more. I am working toward building a better life for myself and moving forward. I am making goals and reaching them. I come from a very rich and colorful culture which has shaped who I am today.

The only part that sucks is that I am single. Now when you read that, and if you are single as well, you are probably thinking “Yeah being single does suck.” Let me make sure everyone understands this from the beginning: I do not have a problem with being single. I do not need anyone to make me feel complete.

The issue that I do have is that there aren’t any prospects out there. Being gay in Detroit is like trying to do a backstroke in puddle. It is rather pointless. Meeting someone here is so hard. The gay community is very small here so everyone already knows everyone. New faces rarely show up. If they do, they are either “12” or come attached to a boyfriend. Detroit wasn’t always like this. The gay scene was booming and there were so many people in the community! But that was 10 years ago. It has dramatically decreased because everyone has moved away from Detroit to bigger cities.

Being almost 32, I am at that stage where I am a little concerned that I will end up alone, on Grindr, and trolling guys to come over for “$ome fun.” Life is just starting to feel a lot more real now. I would love to go out and meet new people and go on dates. I miss the butterfly in my feeling stomach when someone I like calls or touches me. I could touch myself all day, but I am so used to me that even I pretend to have a headache to get away from me. Ha! I was in love once. That was such an amazing feeling to experience. The last time I was in a relationship was when I was 23-26. I have not really dated anyone since then. I miss having someone to text/call for no reason except that we just wanted to hear from each other.

When I started working in downtown Detroit, I thought that would be a superb place to meet new people! I even downloaded Grindr when I first started to see who was around. I quickly learned that no one I was interested, or they lived on the Canada side, were on. So I deleted that. Going to the gay bars suck here. Even with that, sometimes I will go just on the off chance that I might actually meet someone. I even started working at the mall again partly so I could just meet new people and break out of my life of routine.

I even created an OKCupid account to see who is out there. It’s the same people of course. What are the chances a good looking guy in his early thirties looking for something serious is going to be on there? Not impossible, but not likely either.

Part of the problem is myself. I know that. When I meet people, I can immediately tell if they will fall into the friend zone, or something more. I have never dated friends. Once we become friends, it just will not go past that. I am not the type to develop feelings either. They are there or they aren’t.

Another problem is When I moved to MI, I always said that even though I live here, my soul mate is going to be back in NY. It’s just a feeling I’ve always had. That could be a huge part. Maybe my future husband is in NY? I am going to plan trips down to NY I think. If not for that, just to travel and see friends and family.

I think I am a good guy. My friends say I am a good catch. I’m not the perfect guy, but I think I could make someone really happy. I just feel like I am in the prime of my life and it is all going to waste.

Wish me luck. It’s all going to workout however it’s going to, so at least I know there will be a resolution to this.

A Curious Tale Of The Bi-Curious Gay

This is going to be an extremely personal blog. There is just no way around it. Feel free to close out of this post if my sexuality makes you uncomfortable.

I am writing this blog to share a deep and personal side of me. I was initially embarrassed and nervous to do so, then I realized I don’t really care at all.

I am a 30 year old gay man. I have been gay for as long as I can remember. It’s just something that has always been. I didn’t know what it was called though until second grade. I am sexually attracted to men. I have dated men, hooked up with men, and a combination of the both. I have never been with a woman, except for a few make out sessions.

I want to go on record and say that I have always supported all kinds of consenual relationships between adults. I believe sexuality is fluid and we should never trap ourselves under any label. I think as adults we should be able to freely have sex with anyone who want (who is a consenting adult). Gay, straight, bi, onesomes, twosomes, threesomes, orgies, S&M, are all beautiful to me. With that being said..

About a year ago something strange started happening to me. I began experiencing new changes as I mature into a man in his 30s. It is a new kind of puberty if you will. I was finding myself becoming sexually aroused at the idea of having sex with a woman. First it was just this underlying “ha-ha” joke to myself, but then it began to manifest itself into my dreams. I had a very erotic dream that ended with a woman performing oral sex on me. I woke up all kinds of turned on! It was so bizarre to me! I actually loved it. You could tell I loved it when I woke up lol.

Since then, it has been something growing inside of me. I find myself wanting to make out with women. Or instead of fantasizing about having sex with a man, I sometimes think about a woman instead. Just recently, my female neighbor came over to borrow my wine key and in my head I caught myself thinking “I wonder if she would suck my cock?” That is just one example. I have had many.

I am a man. And like any other man, I watch porn. Porn is awesome and healthy. People who judge porn are uptight and tied down by too many stigmas. It is a great release and use of the imagination. I don’t just watch gay porn though. I also watch porn involving women. I love watching a woman go down on a guy because I pretend I am that guy. I like watching a guy fuck a woman because I pretend that it is me. Honestly, I really want to know what it is like to “stick it in.”

Does that mean that I check out women’s breasts or asses and think how bad I want that. Not really. Do I have romantic feelings for a woman? No. But like everything else, things are subject to change. I think I am more stimulated by the idea of being the only cock in the bed though. There is something very sensual and stimulating about a male/female sexual dynamic. I think the idea of a new type of sex and sexuality is the core of my newfound bicurious nature.

As I stated earlier, I am all for sexuality. It is natural and beautiful. Now I have to learn to apply that same liberal attitude to myself. I only wish that women were as casual about sex as men were. It would make this much easier to explore.

This doesn’t change how I currently see myself. I don’t want people reading this and saying shit like “Welcome back to our team.” I am who I am. I am a 30 year old man who has no shame in exploring his maturing sexuality.

Anyone else want to share?

Online Dating Works! If you aren’t gay that is..

I have never been one for online dating. I think there is no zest or appeal when it comes to chatting with someone online. Without personal interaction, there is just chemistry or interest. All you have to go on is a possibly outdated pic and profile. That is not a person. That is a profile. But with that being said, online dating is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to meet. I see the commercials all the time for eHarmony and Chemistry. I even saw that one of those dating sites (I think Match.com) has live parties or events where people can meet each other in person. I actually find that to be a brilliant move!

But, all of those mentioned earlier are for the heterosexual community. As for the gay community, we are severely limited. At least with heterosexual people, there are just so many of them. In the gay community, there not as many of us. We are such a small community that we know all know each other, or of each other. That makes dating nearly impossible. Unless of course, you fly them in from out of state or country lol.

If you do use dating sites, especially for smaller areas like Detroit, you really only need one profile or app. Grindr is really the best way to go it seems. For a while, at the advice of a friend who was annoyed I was perpetually single and not dating, I “put myself out there.” I went on OKcupid, PlentyOfFish, Chemistry.com etc. I quickly came to learn that it is all of the same people! Same for gay mobile apps like Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, Maleforce, Growler, etc. It’s always the same people messaging you or viewing your profile.

So this is my question: If you already know everyone at the bar, and it is all the same people online, where does a guy go to meet someone?

I have a lot going on for me right now so I am definitely happy being the bachelor that I am. I am focusing on goals that will really propel my life forward. I have also never been the type of guy to ever “need” a boyfriend or someone in my life. I am a fully independent and self sustaining man. It doesn’t bother me that I am single at all.

The part that concerns me is that if I did want to start dating, that there is no one to date. There just is nothing out there. That is a dismal reality.

Being gay is hard enough. But being gay and finding someone, forget it!

I don’t know. I’m blabbing really. What do you do think?

Stereotypes and Stupid Questions (Gay Men)

Ok, to get straight to the point, this shit drives me bonkers.

As much I can’t stand intolerant assholes who look at me as some biblical monster or as a person that is not equal to them, sometimes people who just love the gays or are uniformed drive me more crazy!

There are a couple of questions/statements that I notice people (especially women) immediately ask upon discovering that I am gay.

Question #1: Do you have a boyriend? Seriously? That is the first place your brain goes? I didn’t ask you if you had a boyfriend. We just met. I get that it is fascinating that you met a man who dates other men, and the idea of him having a boyfriend/partner just makes me you sploosh your panties. But it is no different then you dating your man! This question always annoys me. I know that no harm is meant by it. It is still annoying. I’m not a pony show to entertain or amuse you. I actually just IMed a coworker and asked her a question about who files what claims in that area. She told me. Then she asked me if I had found a boyfriend yet. WTF? I’m sure that has nothing to do with claims.

Statement #1: You’re gay? We have to go shopping together sometime! Um what? I just met you. Why the fuck would I go shopping with you? I’m pretty sure I already don’t like you so why would I torture myself by hanging out with you? I’m gay, not a sadist. I actually hate shopping. I am one of those quick in and out shoppers. The ONLY time I used my shopping abilities is for my mother, brother, sisters, and some cousins. That’s it. Not for stupid fools who slap me in the face with a stereotype.

One of my biggest pet peeves: Fag Hags and Fag Stags. This topic really makes my blood boil. These girls are heterosexual world road kill who are kicked over into the gay world. To me, loving someone just because they are gay is the same thing as hating someone because they are gay. I hate when I go to the bar and I see these obnoxious, over protective, bigger girls crowding the place because they want to be with “their gays.” We are no one’s gay. There are a couple of straight men who have all gay friends because they just love the attention we idiotically give. I always have an appreciation for those people who have friends that happen to be gay, not friends because they are gay.

My all time biggest pet peeve: Gay men are not women!! We are not “one of the girls!” We are men. We have male genitals. Being gay is not the same thing as being a woman. Being gay means I am a man who likes men. Do not invite me to your baby showers, wedding showers, or girl’s night out. Fuck you.

To everyone hetero: Gay people are real people. We are not Showtime entertainment. We have every day lives with every day problems. We have the same blood types that you do. We smile when we are happy, we cry when we are sad. We have hobbies and talents like you do. We face the world alone or with a partner like you do. We struggle to pay bills during hard times like you do. There are many varieties of gay men (and lesbians) as their are straight men (and women). Some are feminine and some are masculine. Some love make up and others love video games. We are all different. Try to get to know the person who you are meeting and not the stereotype you want him to be.

The only difference between us is people don’t judge you because of you who fall in love with or want to marry (unless you were black before the 1960’s).

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.