Saturday, October 09, 2010

Serbian UN Mission Meets With Gays
Over Belgrade's Pride March

Just under twenty activists and gay press folks staged a noontime rally yesterday at the Serbian Mission to the United Nations, located on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The purpose of our action was to demand that Serbian police forces protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Serbians and their allies, when they stage their Gay Pride March on Sunday.

Among the activists were Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag, Brendan Fay, longtime global advocate, Bill Dobbs of Queer Watch, Craig Howell of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC, and a member of NYC's Congregation Beit Simchat Torah whose name I didn't catch.

[Update, from Andy Humm:  FYI, the guy from Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the LGBT synagogue, who Michael could not identify was veteran gay activist Rick Landman who has been involved in the movement since the early 1970s.]

Also present were Andy Humm of Gay USA, and community photographers Louis Flores and Dan Cacace.

After a few short speeches on the sidewalk, under the watchful eyes of 6-7 New York Police Department detectives and sargents, the cops informed us that the officials inside the mission were inviting us in to chat about our concerns.

Three of us went in; Gilbert, Brendan and myself. We had a friendly 15-minute chat with Marina Ivanovic, who is on the consular staff and with the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We spoke about our concerns over the safety of Sunday's marchers, and Gilbert said it would help Serbian win membership in the European Union if the pride parade takes place without any violence, or if there is trouble, proper policing.

Brendan presented Marina Ivanovic with a letter from an American filmmaker which details the support pouring in from Serbian film directors and professionals, and many artists, all straight.

I handed her a cover letter and the solidarity letter signed by dozens of gay leaders from more than two dozen countries, and said it was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the thousands of people around the world who embrace the Serbian gay community, as they march for visibility and tolerance.

Marina Ivanovic assured our letters and concerns would be conveyed to her bosses back in Belgrade. She also mentioned a pro-gay move made by Cuba two-years ago at the United Nations, and that this represented how gay human rights were advancing in many different countries.
(Click here for more pics. Photo credit: Dan Flores.)

We were not allowed to snap any photos inside, but as soon as we left the mission we gave a few shouts of solidarity for the gay Serbs on the steps of the mission's entrance. My feeling is that we were invited inside for a chat because the Serbian government is responding positively to all of the global pressure and attention being generated for the gay marchers.

Many thanks to all who attended the rally, and huge expression of gratitude to Lazar Pavlovic, a key organizer of the Belgrade pride march, and all of our Serbian brothers and sisters for giving us Americans a chance to show our solidarity with you.

Solidarity with Belgrade's 10/10/10 Gay Pride March!


Anonymous said...

Michael, you're in NYC and didn't tell me!? Are you still in town? Katherine D.

Michael said...

nope, i'm in new jersey heading to newark airport soon and my return flight to SFO.