Wonderland's Pride Mysteries
Wonderland. This is how Bulgaria is often called in some native circles.
Wonderland, as in nothing is how and where it should be.
Say 'One to One', a renowned gay bar in Sofia. Where is it? In Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) headquarters. This is at 20 Positano St, the all-times seat of Bulgarian Communist Party that in the early 90s changed its name to Bulgarian Socialist Party and decided to "give up on the strict application of Marxism".
Thus now, when night fals, at 20 Positano St one may see the surreal scene of young, torso naked males chatting and drinking on the pavement under the huge cast iron sculpture composition honouring those fallen in the fight against fascism evocatively ornating the entrance of BSPs headquarters.
To me, it was a rather unreal experience when gay friends invited me to a drag burlesque show that happened to take place at 20 Positano St, an address associated since childhood with completely different pictures - think of October Revolution military parade.
But that was just the first of the surprises. Many more followed. The drag show had an..."all female" animator wearing a wig, as if the wig will make less genuine woman of her. The devil is in the detail, they say. And this small detail is what makes of Bulgaria Wonderland for you. Then the wiged woman (BSP activist or sympathiser, I will straight speculate saying) made the following announcement : "Next week I am waiting for you at Sofia Pride. Gathering point the Monument of the Soviet Army".
- Why at the Monument of the Soviet Army? I heard my surprised voice ring in the announcements' time silence.
Stereo-surround laughter was the group answer I got. Then somebody shouted "Because this is the only army!"
Which actually reminded me where I was - drag or no drag show, be it a gay bar, I was indeed in the basement of BSP headquarters.
I was also made to reflect: In Sofia there still is ...a Monument of the Soviet Army. In its centre, in its heart....
Whilst Bulgarian communist-time monuments such as the Mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov and the bizarre structure "1300 Years Bulgaria" were gradually dismantled; none dared touch to the this massive symbol of colonisation, The Monument of the Soviet Army. To modify and rename it.
"There is no way that I go to a Pride under the Monument of the Soviet Army", I told myself about a hundred times during the week that followed. Then being me, I did exactly the opposite. After all I have as many a gay friends in Sofia as in London, where we always go priding.
Between the two dates : 1st of June drag show and 8th of June Sofia pride I kept asking everybody I met one of the two questions:
- Why does the Party which refused to ratify the Istanbul Convention organises Sofia Pride?
In Wonderland the Istanbul Conbention is also known as the LGBT convention, despite it being a convention to protect women against violence in general and domestic violence in particular. In Wonderland the Convention's "aiming to break stereotypes " was read as "aiming to blur the boundaries between genders and create a third sex".
Hence, in Wonderland, Bulgarian Socialist Party has gathered forces with United Patriots (A coalition of nationalist parties) and Will, yet another populist, nationalistic party "that promotes friendlier relations with Moscow."
I repeat: Bulgarian Socialist Party united its effort with the whole spectrum of Wonderland's nationalistic parties so that the National Assembly does not ratify the Istanbul Convention. Thus becoming the first EU country to reject its ratification. How did we call the marriage between socialism and nationalism?
(UK didn't ratify IC either)
Some political analysts suggested that in this matter BSP chose to please their primarily elderly electorate, aligning with the nationalists in their... How was it?... Dieu Partie Famille?
So now Wonderland has a socialist party which in the daytime pleases its misses, the elderly core electorate; whilst flirting with the strongly marginalised Bulgarian LGBT community in the night time.
The misses gets the straight legislation ...the mistress gets what? ...some underground space?
Laaf though suggests that BSP's real spouse and masteress is not the elderly Bulgarian electorate (quickly vanishing on shamefully low wages and poor social and medical care), but Moscow. Moscow towards which BSP stands, once more, bend over with a bare derrière.
Now there, where is Wonderland? It's where Moscow backed socialism and nationalism unite to leave the convention to protect women against violence unsigned. Weak women = weak society. And let the naked dances around the sculpture of the Fallen in the Fight against Fascism commence.
The silver lining? As no homophobe macho will dare attack BSP's headquarters, if not my female at least my male gay friends are safe, and if not in Wonderland as a whole, at the minimum at Позитано 20 (20 Positano St.).
To be continued with:
- Sofia's Pride Picture.
- Why do we still have something called The Monument of the Soviet Army in the centre of Sofia?