Richard Stanke about the Festival

04.10.2012

All their lives, LGBTI people are always having to explain themselves. And at a certain age, they get tired of it. They're in no mood to resurrect their coming out; they have their own, ordinary problems to deal with. Indeed, sometimes all the explaining even appears futile. Right when perceptions of the LGBTI minority seem to have changed for the better, someone like Slovak parliamentarian Štefan Kuffa says they want to cure homosexuals, and we get the feeling it's all been for naught. Though I’ve never heard of anyone who’s been successfully “cured” of homosexuality. And no, having a spouse and children doesn’t count as “cured”.

In countries that recognize registered partnerships, gays and lesbians enjoy better standing. When their relationships are respected officially, it sends an important message to the rest of society: same-sex relationships are not a passing fad, but two people who truly live their lives together. This allows queer people to focus on their own matters – those related to their relationships, families and work.

I have serious doubts that Slovakia will see such legislation passed in the foreseeable future. Those who have the power to do so act as if nothing of the sort existed and focus on ostensibly more important issues. Most politicians are reluctant to address the topic for fear of endangering their careers. The powerful influence of Catholicism also plays a role. The Church prefers to sweep issues concerning non-heterosexual orientations under the carpet, since they could lead to a discussion their arguments simply couldn’t withstand. What’s more, examples abroad have proven that registered partnerships pose no threat whatsoever to society, nor to the “traditional family”.

Another major problem is that we don't see positive examples of healthy relationships or lives of LGBTI people. The examples we do see are often borderline cases from the social periphery. Most Slovaks still think that homosexuals all wear pink. Gay clichés die hard. And that’s something we need to fight against, even after all these years. It never fails to surprise me how deeply rooted prejudices are and how any divergence from the mainstream is seen as a threat.

Richard Stanke, actor, patron of the Slovak Queer Film Festival