I'm always pleased to see Albania crop up in the news, especially when the coverage is positive and highlights either a unique aspect of the country or shows how the situation in the country is progressing. New roads, increased tourism, less crime, upgrades at the airport, you get the idea. Even if I don't have a great personal interest in the latest improvement, I like to take time to highlight the event and comment on its uniquely Albanian aspects.
Today, I'm a little challenged. The news is full of the latest advance in Albania's development: the adoption of a law protecting the rights of the LGBT community. That's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered for those of you who thought it might be a distant relative of the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich. Not only has the parliament passed a law prohibiting discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation, but a participant on an extremely popular reality show has come out.
In the States, coming out has an impact on family, friends, and those who share a vested interest in the LGBT agenda. On a national scale, it's not that big of a deal unless you are a Hollywood personality or a Republican congresscritter. It's not that rare.
Here, it is that rare. There has been exactly.... one. As you can imagine, there has been quite a reaction. A hundred or so young men from Lezhe have protested on several occasions. They aren't protesting against a gay guy coming out. They are protesting against the fact that he identifies with their city and is gay. In truth, the gentleman in question left Albania years ago, lived in Italy, and has returned for the TV show. In Albanian fashion, he refers to himself as being from Lezhe. The protesters don't like that. "Don't associate Skanderbeg's final resting place with ..... that!"
I'm tempted to try to find some historically relevant causal relationship that explains this deep-seated homophobia, but I just don't have the energy. So, I'll close with snark. I think it's part of the whole effort to differentiate themselves from the Greeks!
"We hate the most in others what we fear the most in ourselves."
7 years ago