Categories
Thoughts

Holographic past

Imagine: it’s 2070!

You’re planning a visit to the museum. Imagine: all inequality between different social groups are a thing of the past – overcome – reduced to an exhibition themed “lest we forget”.

Well, that’s where I ended up tonight; paying a visit to the holographic ghosts of Society Past – re-enacting a dark chapter of human history. An imaginary reminder of how our grandparents acted towards marginalised groups in 2020. The art project by Avraam, a Greek gay activist, was a performance-based installation in Cirkulacija 2, a conception of a utopian world 50 years from now.

Yes, you could call it utopian – he prefers to call it “achievable”.

This exhibition hit a nerve that has been stretched for the last 10 years and is reaching snapping point – especially in populist Europe where LGBTQ-free zones are the latest trend. Never in the last 20 years has a world without homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism seemed more distant in Europe than today.

The museum’s hostess – with an attitude- welcomed visitors to the show and guided us around the holographic performances. Through each space, we were having the chance to experience time of a reality depicting minority groups “back in 2020”. Each room told a story – a little life.

No, COVID did not feature, but feelings about transphobia, fat-phobia, homophobia did. Also stigmatism against HIV-positive persons was recited in a moving and approachable performance. A wheelchair-bound woman affirmed her sexuality and clippers were shaving a healthy head of hair. Perhaps too realistic for holograms?

About the artist:

Who said Greek tragedies are dead?

Avraam Vrohidis is an artist, fat queer activist and performer from Greece. He has studied Social Work and is currently working with children with different abilities. Furthermore, he is the founder of a greek fat positive collective called “Fat Unicorns”. He wants to inspire people of all walks of life, making them trust and love their bodies and expressing themselves no matter what. His endeavour is to empower queer and fat teenagers out there who are confronted with discrimination. As a result, Avraam created the project “QHologram 2070: Museum of Diversity” and aims to travel with it all around Europe and use it to educate and sensitize a wide variety of different people.

Categories
Thoughts

Prostor

I think I have found the most magical place on Earth – Ljubljana.

Haiku of the day

Respecting your space
Just like two complete strangers
I will tread with care.
Categories
poem Thoughts

Homo erectus

Only yesterday
I learned to walk
Then run
And rush
Through life with haste

With elbows
Through society
Compete
Achieve the time away

Today I stand
And watch the world
Afresh
Towards the race of rats
Categories
Thoughts

Autumn is here

As if 2020 wanted to give us some well deserved normality, Ljubljana‘s first day of autumn has started with a foggy sky and a drop in temperatures. Since May I had been in my shorts and it felt awkward this morning to squeeze my legs into these long hoses. Did the trousers shrink in the wash or did my legs get more muscular (or just fat)?

At lunchtime the clouds disappeared and let some sunshine through. But the temperatures did not pick up much above 20°.

Ljubljana, 1st September 2020

The city was packed with students who started today at University. Most of them had scribbles all over their faces. First I thought It was tattooed in a Post Malone style, then I realised it was just written with a felt pen; mainly the letter F. Someone told me it means “Fasan” (pheasant) = a colloquial term for first year student. I think in America they are called freshman. It was invigorating to see so much demand in academia.

In 15 days, I will have lived half a century on this planet – a lovely round number, yet incomprehensible. It is most likely the last single letter in Roman numerals (L) that I will reach; and although it forces my brain into turbo drive, I don’t feel any urge to celebrate this fact. I suppose for a celebration you’d need local friends.

Work has been keeping me busy; to a degree of stress I remember from before leaving medicine. Perhaps a good thing. And as we get closer to autumn equinox, I pretend everything is just the same…

Evening beer in September

Categories
gay Thoughts

Waves Of Love

And,
if a nice young man would
wave you a smile. You’d
invite him up. You’d
draw the curtains and
dive under the sheets of love

Grindr hookup

Hidden

Empty profile.
A message out of nothing,
you tell me you’re a bottom.
Your confidence is compulsive
your discretion obsessive.

You’re a friend of the moment.
Relentlessly begging me to give.
You hate the street – despise our lives.

Yesterday, I entered your dreams
Today, I will enter you.
For a moment, you shall lose the mask.
Until your seed spills on the ground
and the tree of guilt is regrown.

Categories
Thoughts

Fragile hope

The winter sun warms
your roots, the soil of home
humble and old.
Brightness shatters your dreams.
You wanna break away – chip off
the years of infection.
Condemned
to anchor!

Tivoli Park , Winter 2020
Categories
Thoughts

Retour à la nature

If you asked me today, I couldn’t tell what exactly made me leave the big smoke; perhaps it was linked to getting older, craving space, perhaps it was the mid-life crisis. After nearly 20 years in London, I was ready to do a JJ Rousseau and downgrade to more quiet pastures. Luckily, my partner was originally from Slovenia and after visiting his home country a few times – a seed was planted in my brain.

Bexit was the last straw. When suggesting to move to Slovenia, I was not met with much objection. And, in October 2016 we packed our belongings into a hire van and drove across Europe through rain, mist and mountains. We set up base in a place called Ptuj. It was Gogi’s home town and logistically the easiest option for a move.

Nature I craved, Nature I got...

Overnight, my life changed. Not only did I wake up in a town on the northern Balkan – a thousand miles from my favourite Coffee Shop, I also found myself back in the 1970/80ies. Yes, I travelled back to my childhood where summer was hot and snow fell in winter. The almost forgotten sound of tractors rattling past the window and church bells in the mornings re-emerged; and so did the nosy neighbours and empty pubs.

Ptuj 2017

The Germanic influence in this part of the world was omnipresent, not only in the architecture and language but also in the customs and behaviour of the people. Clap-along music, naff TV ads and a penchant for kitsch ruled the daily life. Like their crumbling buildings, the citizens of Ptuj were old and stuck in time. They were scared of anything new – apart from cars – and upheld traditions, not for its heritage sake, but because they didn’t know anything else. The youth left town for Universities or work in Austria, Maribor or Ljubljana. Right wing populism was rife among the people who remained. I had the impression that many people did not fully grasp the content of the propaganda from Le Pen or Austria’s FPÖ when sharing such posts on social media – they just followed their friends (Reminds you of something?). During a referendum for gay marriage, the Ptuj region had the highest percentage of NO votes in the whole of Slovenia.

Just as the people were backwards, so was nature – which, unlike the former, I enjoyed immensly. There were butterflies that I had not seen since my childhood. In May the cuckoo called from the nearby forest, and in autumn hordes of herons fed on the sodden fields. Each village in the outskirts of Ptuj had a stork nest high on a pole and come April, one after another of these pads would become occupied. With the window open during summer nights, I would be lulled into sleep by chirping creatures in the grass and frog concerts from the nearby pond.

The area was perfect for long bicycle rides – towards South you’d reach the Croatian border in just 30 minutes. When cycling through the planes of lower Styria, through forests and hamlets, I experienced life from another time, centuries ago, how it must have looked like in a Grimm’s fairy tale.

It was an unforgettable time, but unlike the Grimm fairy tale, life in Ptuj was lacking human interaction and drama. The only sinister plot was perhaps our landlord going through our recycle bins or the birthday party melodrama when a neighbour threatened to call the police because of too much singing in the garden.

Ptuj, Slovenia

Needless to say, Ptuj was nice to look at and its nature stunning, but not a place to stay. After just over a year we decided to go “back to urban”, packed our bags once more and scuttled off westbound. Destination: Ljubljana – the capital.

Ptuj, December 2017
Categories
gay Thoughts

Gay Slovenia

As soon as you set foot into an Eastern European county from the west, you notice a distinct lack of rainbow flags and a dissonant use of the word gay. The sound of homosexuality turns into a melody with sour notes, and the letters G A Y fade into bleak shades of grey – hidden behind closed doors and faceless hook-up profiles. For most people of the Slavic/Hungarian speaking countries, “gay” represents a dark force and a threatening political movement rather than a person – let alone a proud person.

The same perception I get for the southern Slavic nations, Slovenia is no exception. Even though the LGBTQ+ community here in Ljubljana is trying hard to keep up with western-style dynamics, something organic and much more important is missing – GAY MEN DO NOT COME OUT.

You might ask, what has that got to do with the price of Poppers, but I can assure you, it influences greatly how people are perceiving homosexuality. Imagine: If you are out to your neighbour, he or she will associate the term gay with your person; it becomes a face and part of “normality”. And with time, the notion of an invisible threat will disappear. During my time in England, I haven’t met many people who were not somehow acquainted with a LGBT person. There, “gay” means: the couple downstairs, the doctor who looked after dad, the uncle or aunt who lives in the city. In Switzerland, next door to my mum’s where I grew up lives today a lesbian couple – they are integrated just like any other family.

Here in Slovenia, people without gay acquaintances are still the norm. And the only time they hear the word gay is in some twisted Facebook post or as a swear word.

I remember chatting to a fellow dog walker of my age who could not accept the fact that I was not attracted to women; she looked at me as if I came from a different planet. Like many Slovenians, she did not know any gays; and yet, she would have been perfect fag hag material.

At my first Ljubljana Pride, I noticed the distinct lack of men. Are there perhaps less homosexual men in Slovenia you ask? Well, looking at the density of dick-hungry guys on Grindr et al., the numbers are perfectly comparable with a South London suburb.

When I asked guys if they are out, the top three answers were:

I don’t have it tattooed on my forehead, but people probably assume

OR

some friends know but not family/at work

OR

it’s nobody’s business.

Ljubljana Town House during Pride Festival

When asking why they don’t join the Pride Parade, I had guys reacting with disgust at the idea of waving a rainbow flag. Strange, I know. The shame of homosexuality is deep ingrained in the soul of Europe’s ex-socialist states.

So unless we start to grow some balls and come out in droves to show our neighbours “some people are gay, get over it” Slovenia and its fellow Slavic countries will continue in the dark ages, giving populists the fodder they need and causing unnecessary suffering for our younger generation.

Categories
Thoughts

Summer Solstice

Sunset. Evening red turns to night blue, first into azure, then Yves Klein and finally deep royal. It’s quarter past nine and I watch the daylight slowly fading over the western sky. The longest day of the year is coming to an end.

Is it just me, or is the earth whizzing around the sun ever faster? I feel like once January is over and the first snowdrops pop out, it takes a few blinks of an eye and the peonies are already wilting.

Nevertheless, I do love celebrating summer solstice, it is one of my favourite days in the calendar. In England, I used to enjoy late summer evenings in the beer garden watching planets appear on the dusky sky – glowing brighter with every pint until joined by the stars of the night sky. I am not religiously inclined, I don’t do Christian festivals, but I take comfort from celestial events and the pagan heritage – which at the end of the day is the origin of the Christian festivals anyway.

Sumer solstice 2020, Ljubjana

Tomorrow was another day

The linden tree’s in bloom
Infusing the warm night

Sickly clouds of nectar
Wafting past our silence

Your smile, like
summer evening jazz –
light, but
too predictable

You’d pack your bags tomorrow
you said
as the snow was melting

You are still here.

Above us blink the stars of June
Was it your birthday yesterday?
Categories
poem

Morning has broken

I walk my path,
morning after morning.
The early bird
hunting for Sunday worms.
In the tree, the serpent sleeps
and crows lament the silence.

I hear mutt’rings in the mist,
reticent through frost and ice.
The wind is calling me,
but I am not list’ning.

My path is brimmed with sour grapes.

4th January 2020, Tivoli Park , Ljubljana