Every Day Life
Overall, the majority of queer Romanians felt sheer loneliness and social rejection in the last decades of Communism and during the nineties, a period prospected as an opening to Western values of openness and inclusivity. Desperation and depression, which in some cases led to suicide, characterized the mental health of many queer people until beginning 2000s. Their tragedies demonstrate the limited extent to which Romanian society and the Romanian Orthodox Church were willing to let liberal values of minority rights extend to the general Romanian population. For the most part, queer existence remained gloomy despite the end of Nicolae Ceaușescu's repressive regime.
Repression in the day-to-day
Repressions permeated queer Romanian life and discrimination as social discourse linked them to violence and aggression. In 2003, two years after the abrogation of Art. 200 P.C., the ACCEPT NGO for LGBTQ+ rights wrote in the report of their project “No! No! No to Discrimination” that there existed a “tradition of social exclusion and discrimination, which affect LGBT persons ... by deteriorating their mental and emotional well-being ... reducing access to public services, such as medical care ..., and leading to dropping out of school or resigning and/or being laid off due to sexual orientation, HIV positive status, or transgender identity.” Having one’s sexual orientation made public implied a variety of consequences that made their life spiral into disarray. Victor Hila, a gay activist in Sibiu and leader of the then recently founded Protect GLBT, was outed by a journalist. He mentions that, even before, his students and fellow teachers “looked at him as at a delinquent;” he describes his workplace as a “menacing environment.” He also attest to the fact that the president of the New Right, a Nazi organization, told him, “Look who decided to promote health in Sibiu? A bloody faggot. We are stronger and someday you’ll die at our hands.” Anonymity was prized as homosexuality remained characterized as “dirty” and “sinful” and quasi-certain social suicide ensued from having one’s sexual orientation known.
Lack of Safe Private and Public Spaces
Anonymity not the only battle that homosexuals had to endure every day, but a general sense of wariness as well, which not only hindered their mental state, but also their relationships, as private spaces were themselves insufficient to help nurture new relationships. In A Space of our Own (Un spatiu doar al nostru, 2020), Valentine describes how he and his boyfriend were in their own private space: “We are in the kitchen, I pull him close to me to kiss him ... he pushes me back on the chair and goes to quickly close the blinds—ground floor, view to the street, not in one of the most progressive neighborhoods. We are not at Control [one of the few LGBTQ+ friendly bars in Bucharest], but simply in a place where we are risking it by eating together and where we hope the walls are thick enough. We fall asleep tense under a reality check.”
“Best Times of My Life”
Other relationships appeared at unexpected moments and turned into impossible love stories. Many of the sources convey how these short relationships were the most beautiful moments of these gay men’s lives as the post-communist period did not attenuate the longing these men felt for past moments shared with other me. Many attempted to conform to the heteronormative model that the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian government were emphasizing; unfortunately, to no success as they could not fulfill the demands of a heterosexual partnership and once again faced loneliness and lack of hope. Romanian queers conformed publicly to the heteronormative society and worried not only about their own fortune, but also about their family’s, as they strove to keep their sexual orientation a secret. Few found solace among their relatives.
Admitting one’s sexual orientation remained an issue for many Romanian queers as the environment in which they grew up and the discourse that surrounded them was highly disapproving and hostile. To the only lesbian publication in Romania in the nineties, Identitati (Identities), a woman commented on her sister’s coming-out to her, “I realized it was a lot more difficult for her to accept herself as she is than it was for me to acknowledge that she really is a lesbian and that it’s not just a whim in her search for her identity."
A 23-year-old answered for a newspaper to the questions “How do you feel about yourself? How do you relate to society:” “I live with the regret that, from an intimate point of view, I’m not the same as the vast majority. I tried to change my sexual orientation, but it’s not something that depends on consciousness or will, therefore I didn’t succeed.”
US-born LGBT activist Scott Long and Ion interviewed, for Gay 45, gay men who had been imprisoned under Art.200 P.C. and stated that they realized “that almost all of them had been tortured by the police [before being convicted].” The gay men imprisoned under Art.200 P.C. described being a homosexual in prison as “horrible, humiliating, and degrading.” Prison guards attests to how “detainees who knew that ‘passives’ had touched dishes or worked in the kitchen refused to eat and conflicts could arise between detainees and us [prison management]." Aside from facing social alienation, homosexuals continued to fear imprisonment which, among other consequences, entailed violent abuses such as rape or torture.