Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde and Holly Johnson are among a growing band of international singers who have added their voice to support Belgrade Pride 2012.
These multi-million selling musicians have come forward to encourage the LGBT community who intend to exercise their right to walk side by side on the streets of Serbia’s capital city.
The Belgrade Pride Parade, which is scheduled for Saturday 6 October, is still far from confirmed to go ahead. If last year’s debacle is anything to go by, when the Serbian government banned public gatherings due to ‘security issues’, organisers could be in for a bumpy ride. For that reason and more, Serbia’s LGBT community should appreciate knowing that the world is watching.
With celebrities from stage and screen joining a number of well-known singers and human rights activists in standing up for freedom and equality, those who intend to take part in the Belgrade Pride Parade will take strength from knowing that they will not be alone in the struggle.
American singer and actress Cyndi Lauper pledged her continued support for Serbia’s LGBT community, last year. She has been true to her word. “Love, Faith and Hope: Three simple words that have enormous meaning,’ said Cyndi, recalling the slogan of Belgrade Pride 2012.
“We must love each other in spite of our differences. We must have faith that one day the world will no longer be divided, but united in ensuring that every human being is treated with dignity and respect. We must hold onto the hope that as long as we keep our heads held high and stay strong, one day soon our work to advance equality for all will become a reality.” Cyndi, who releases her memoir this month, is familiar with the issues in Serbia, having starred in Darko Lungalov’s Serbian-US film Tamo i Ovde.
“I hope these simple words will help to encourage greater interest in the lives, rights and issues of Serbia’s LGBT community. I wish you all a successful, joyful and peaceful festival. There is no room for discrimination in our 21st Century world; let compassion born from love rule the day.”
While adding his heartfelt encouragement to gay people in Serbia, international chart-topping Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson was clear in his criticism of Serbian authorities and the banning of last year’s Pride event.
“It amazes me that in the 21st Century that being gay and being proud of it is still an issue for some small minded groups of people,’ Holly said. “It is not just in Serbia. It is the same in Russia and some places in America where the lie that ‘Jesus Hates Faggots’ is displayed on banners by the unenlightened.
“It is important that [Serbia’s LGBT community] know that I and many other people across the world feel that you have the right to enjoy your life and be proud of who you. We support your aims. Pride comes from within and whether you are allowed to celebrate yourselves in a display of solidarity, has to be a basic human right. The freedoms from prejudice and fear that we in the LGBT community have all endured at different times and places throughout the world in recent history have been fought for through the bravery of pioneers who proudly stood up in the face of adversity.
“Your festival is themed around ‘Love, Faith and Hope‘ and if you do not lose ‘faith’ or ‘hope’ now, then the ‘love’ will soon be yours. Belgrade, your time to stand up and be counted is here and my heartfelt thoughts are with you. Your struggle is a valiant one. Rage Hard!”
Andy Bell, charismatic singer with hit-makers Erasure, was also keen to back the Belgrade Pride Parade. “Although it seems that we have it very easy here in the West, the struggle for equality & respect for human rights is a worldwide never ending battle,’ he said.
“It reminds me when I hear about the Pride Parade being banned of how it used to be in early 80’s Britain and it takes guts & determination to change the views of the general public, especially when they are force fed misleading information by the controlled media. I just cannot understand why the few people that control the media always have to create an enemy. I suppose it shifts the focus away from the injustices being committed by those very same people.
“Anyway, I would like to say to all the participants and organisers of Belgrade Pride that I wish them all the very best & send them all the love in the world. All of the people who care & want to change the perceptions of narrow minded people are indeed brave souls. Be proud, hold your heads up high and eventually everyone else will slowly become enlightened and realise that we were right all along: LOVE cannot possibly be a criminal act.”
Support has also come from the rock arena. Wayne Hussey, currently touring Europe with his stadium-filling band The Mission, called for Serbia to put an end to prejudice and bullying of any kind. “Intolerance, prejudice and abuse should be unacceptable in any family or society. It certainly is in my home and also in my workplace as a musician,’ he said.
“Bullying, whether by an individual or even by a government, is perpetrated only by the ignorant and weak in mind and it can only harm and destroy lives. Every day we meet people who are dissimilar to ourselves and whilst we need to celebrate the things that make us the same we also need to not just tolerate but celebrate our differences rather than condemn the irrelevances that make us different.
“We all need our own space to live and grow and be ourselves without fear of threat or abuse. Life can be a tough enough journey without facing those added risks along the way. It is scandalously sad to know that there are people in Serbia, and elsewhere in the world, in this enlightened age that still cannot enjoy such basic human rights. We should all, regardless of nationality, creed, colour, religion, or sexual orientation, and as long as it doesn’t harm any one else, have the right to live our own lives as WE choose.
“To those in Serbia’s LGBT community who are facing prejudice and abuse, I say you are not alone. When you take to the streets for Belgrade Pride many people from all around the world will be right there with you in spirit. Don’t let the bullies hold you down. Rise up with love and hope. Keep the faith.”