Earlier this month the qLit team visited Sofia, Bulgaria, en route to the European Lesbian* Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. In the Bulgarian capital, we were lucky to find this awesome lesbian*, Mira, who took us around in the city, made us eat those out-of-this-world ribs, and told us stories about Bulgaria. Even if the ribs we can’t share with you all, her stories we can. Enjoy.
Can you introduce yourself please?
Hi there! My name is Miroslava, I am 30-years old, born and bred in Bulgaria, now living in Sofia. My hobbies are doing sports, in fact, I am an ex-volleyball player. I am also interested in holistic coaching and training coaching, reading and bio-hacking. I work in a big computer corporate company for a living and I am LGBTQ+ volunteer activist in relation to sport topics in Bilitis Foundation Sofia.
How is it to live in Bulgaria as an LGBTQ+ person?
We have a long way to go in regards to the LGBTQ+ situation. We fight for equality on a social level, as homophobia is very much alive. For example, during the biggest event in Bulgaria, Sofia Pride, when we are visible as gay people, Bulgarian society gets angry and upset. The most common response I hear around that time of the year is that ''I don't mind gay people, just don't parade publicly shoving your sexuality in our faces'' and ''There is no parade for heterosexuals, right?''.
All too familiar unfortunately...
Yeah, I can imagine. Apart from visibility, we are fighting to build a sense of community among LGBTQ+ people as a group. Adoption and marriage are quite far away for the time being.
And what’s the situation in Sofia specifically? So far we have felt pretty safe walking your streets.
Sofia is definitely a bit better in comparison to other cities, but still homophobia is everywhere. There is rarely open homophobia in the workplace but it is very easy for someone to get fired because of sexual orientation, which is typically masked as if something else was the reason.
Still, it must be admitted, Sofia offers more and more LGBTQ+ events for community building, raising awareness or just to have some fun. In fact, there are 4 organizations working hard for our situation to change. But, to conclude, we are not at the place of ''freely kissing on the street''.
Can you say a couple of words about lesbian* social life in Sofia?
I am proud to say that, despite the situation in many Western cities, we do have a lesbian bar in Sofia, which is in fact a well-known and frequently visited place, active for many years. There are also some other venues that are known to be gay-friendly. In addition, I can mention a gay nightclub, but that is not specifically for lesbians* only.
The biggest event definitely is Sofia Pride and there are many programs and gatherings connected to it a couple of months before the march. We hold gay parties but they are kind of private and organized by the active LGBTQ+ associations.
Alongside with that, throughout the year each of the organizations are holding events that fit their specific goals, projects, initiatives, but ultimately we all have one target, which is equality.
Finally, can you share a funny, memorable, or inspirational coming out stories of yours?
Well, I remember I was in high school and I told my very best friend that I am a lesbian. I was very much afraid as it was a small town and like 15 years ago, so imagine a very closed society. Despite this, all she said was: ''I know! But why aren't you hitting on me?''