here we are

Some of us lesbians and gay men from Belgrade gathered for the first time at the end of 1990. It was at a time before anyone of us even in our worst dreams thought there would be a war going on. We met first couple of times in the cafe bar 'Moscow' in the center of town. It was known, at that time, to be a place where (more) gays and (some) lesbians went for a drink. After some time those two-three tables were not enough for us and we moved to people's kitchen and flats.

As usual there were more men and few feminist lesbians.

On one of the meetings it was decided that a group would be named ARKADIA, as a promised land of pleasure and joy in the old Greek stories.

Our first public discussion on social visibility was organized for June 27, 1991. We had some problems getting permission from the Youth House to announce this title in the papers, which was to be connected also to Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. It was a sunny day and some people were coming directly from the river beaches to the meeting. We had four speakers, and the discussion was a very good one. But the news from the day was that Yugoslav Army started to shoot in Slovenia - we were not at all aware at the moment that this was the day the war(s) began.

For the next few months we were waiting the end of the war, even though the killings were already spreading to Croatia and the news was very bad.

At the beginning of 1992 we continued to meet in our flats. But now nationalism became the main issue of everyday life and, therefore, in the group too. The war has divided people; some of us joined peace movement; some participated in democratic actions, some went to work with women victims of war; others joined the war, or became very nationalist.

Young gay pacifists were trying to avoid the Army on the basis of their homosexuality. Dejan finally succeeded. Others started to look for the way out of the country. That summer (92) we had an open discussion and lots of quarreling; some of us were firmly insisting on a non-nationalist policy for the group. The people who were saying 'I hate Gypsies and Albanians but I am gay and I want to be in this group' did not feel comfortable with us any more. We stopped informing them about the meetings.

But we are still left with the unanswered question:  what shall we do with lesbians and gay men who support the war?

That summer for the entire two months the students in Belgrade organized 'Student Protests 92'. It was like an open University with day/night talks and discussions on any issue dealing with democracy/war/peace and alternative culture. Students themselves managed the entire protests; they stopped classes and exams and completely shut down a few faculties.

So, again came the 27th of June. We as a group decided that the best