Arkivi i Lëvizjes LGBTI+ në Kosovë

The other self

April 4, 2024

The other selfSeptember 15, 2021

Shend Badivuku

When we find out that a gay couple has broken up, usually after two or three months of relationship, we hear reasons like “they were afraid of commitment” or “they needed to work on themselves”. While these are not reasons that straight couples don’t have, LGBTQ+ individuals face a more fundamental problem.

LGBTQ+ individuals are taught from their childhood that being themselves is wrong. Whether from a religious, patriarchal, or traditional perspective, in Kosovo, these individuals are subjected to confusing, prejudiced, and sometimes traumatic situations during their journey of self-discovery. And when they finally find themselves, they realize that their true selves are not as welcomed in their family and/or social circle. Of course, we’re talking about the majority of cases, because fortunately, there are families that accept their children with all their colors.

And when they realize that their true selves are not welcomed in their family, they create another ‘self’. This ‘self’ is usually a result of the expectations of their surroundings for that person. Some excel in school, even though the path they’re on is not what they desire, but they fear disappointing their parents; some become pushovers, not asserting any desires or wishes of their own because they fear society might abandon them; some seek guidance from religion, seeing it as the only way to mask the guilt they feel inside.

Essentially, LGBTQ+ individuals deal with a lot of pretense throughout their lives. Some may be convinced that they’ve struck a balance between their fake life and their real one, but in many cases, one influences the other without the person’s knowledge.

They’ve grown up hearing the words “I love you as you are”, “I love every part of you” or “I love everything about you” from their family and/or society, yet how much value does that ‘everything’ hold when that person doesn’t display it in front of those who say these words? How can they love you as you are when they don’t know your whole self? Then it’s hard to believe the word ‘love’. They don’t love you, they love your ‘other self’, it’s a consolation many LGBTQ+ individuals settle for.

And if it’s too hard for them to trust the words ‘I love you’ coming from a family member or a social circle, then why should it be easy to trust someone they’re in a romantic relationship with? Are they in love with me, or with some idea I’ve unconsciously created for them? And so, they fall into an abyss of overthinking, anxiety, paranoia, and sometimes depression. And the Grindr culture, meaning the culture of meeting for sex and nothing more, and one-night stands haven’t helped eradicate this phenomenon.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these cultures, almost the entire community is part of them, but they don’t offer anything more than that, one amazing night and nothing long-term. When was the last time you heard that a couple met through Grindr and are now living together in an apartment with a city view with their two dogs? At least in Kosovo, that has never been heard of.

Perhaps it’s something that the community completely overlooks, thinking “since love won’t be possible, at least I’ll enjoy myself”. Perhaps some are afraid to pursue this ‘dream’ because, generally, as a society, we’re taught to feel ashamed every time we do something outside of societal norms, while a healthy romantic relationship between two men/women is extremely utopian. And unfortunately, the societal norm for the LGBTQ+ community these days is “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”. Or maybe Rock and Roll should be replaced with Techno.

What would help in creating comfort and self-confidence for LGBTQ+ individuals would be their media representation. If there had been a portrayal of same-sex love in the media, on TV, or in movies, where it’s depicted as something very normal. It’s true that such content is found from places outside of Kosovo, but it only reminds us how good it is there and not here. The movie “Martesa”, a film that talks about a love triangle, where a man is forced to marry a woman because he’s afraid of falling in love with another man, has been a milestone for this cause, but it shouldn’t stop there. We need gay, lesbian, trans, non-binary, queer individuals in the media, on TV, and in movies, speaking Albanian, showing what it’s like to live in Kosovo and have the job of your dreams, your life partner, or a life purpose.