Publication: Dobrović, Zvonimir & Gordan Bosanac (eds.). Usmena povijest homoseksualnosti u Hrvatskoj (Oral History of Homosexuality in Croatia ), 2007. Book
Oral History of Homosexuality in Croatia was published in December 2007 by the Domino Association. The volume was a result of an extensive research project that documented gay and lesbian personal stories about their private and public lives in Croatia. Before Oral History, little or no written sources had existed about gays and lesbians, so the aim of the research was to fill this gap and also provide these marginalized communities a platform to retell their historical and social experiences from their own point of view. Many researchers, activists and volunteers worked on the research and publication, with Karmen Ratković, Amir Hodžić and Nataša Bijelić formulating the methodology, while Gordan Bosanac and Zvonimir Dobrović coordinated the whole project and edited the subsequent published volume.
On over 250 large-format pages, the book provides a selection of minimally edited and thematically sorted interviews with twenty-five people who had had homosexual experiences of some sort in their lives. Some among them had lived their gay or lesbian identities since early adolescence; others had only sporadically engaged in same-sex sexual and romantic relations; and some lived in heterosexual marriages publicly, while having homosexual relations privately.
The oldest interviewees were born in 1945, and the youngest one in 1976. Therefore, their autobiographical accounts cover the span from the early 1960s up until the early 2000s. The interviews, in audio-recorded format on CDs, as well as their transcripts, are part of the History of Homosexuality in Croatia Collection, and are kept at the Domino Association’s premises. The original audio recordings are not available to the public or to researchers because the interviews were conducted with the proviso that they would be used for this project specifically, with the final outcome of a published volume. However, Domino will consider the possibility of making them accessible to researches sometime in the future, but the names of the respondents will remain anonymous.
The first part of the publication consists of sections entitled “Identity,” “Coming Out,” “Intimacy,” and “Sex.” These tell the personal stories about first sexual encounters, falling in love, constructing one’s own gender/sexual identity and eschewing heteronormativity. The second part deals much more with the “The Public/Political Sphere,” while the third bears the title “Historical Reader.” The focus here is on power relations in the community, homophobia, discrimination, political events, practices of institutional exclusion, and media representation. The personal accounts include memories of, for instance, same-sex sexual experiences while in compulsory military service in the Yugoslav People’s Army (even with senior officers); police raids in spaces where gays socialized in the 1970s and 1980s, i.e. in Zagreb bars such as Bacchus; experiences with health-care workers in the context of the widespread medicalization of homosexuality. Respondents also reminisced about the “gay trials” from the 1950s; the subsequently more progressive social climate, with the 1980s as a time of diminishing homophobia, a gradual shift in media discourse and emergent strategies of socially affirming public visibility, and the first gay and lesbian organizations.
The volume contains a high number of illustrations, among which 56 scanned documents such as covers of books about homosexuality, fliers and other materials printed by the first lesbian and gay organizations, and press articles on homosexuality from the popular magazines in the 1980s such as Start, Danas and Polet.
In 2016, with the financial support of the Erste Foundation, the book was translated into English by Dean Vuletic (Dobrović, Zvonimir and Gordan Bosanac, eds. 2016. An Oral History of Homosexuality in Croatia. Zagreb: Domino).
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Начална година на събитието
- Bosanac, Gordan
- Dobrović, Zvonimir
Документи за събитието
Review of the book published in the main Croatian daily newspaper: Lazarin, Branimira. 2008. “Muškarci su se voljeli i u vrijeme Tita” [Love between Men in Tito's Time]. Jutarnji list, January 26, 2008. URL: https://www.jutarnji.hr/arhiva/muskarci-su-se-voljeli-i-u-vrijeme-tita/3288557/ (accessed on 07-04-2018).
- Dota, Franko