Braňo

Coming out. Showing your true colours. Metaphorically and literally. Easier said than done. However, while for most people it is a decision, a choice, for the Roma, especially those with a different sexual orientation, it is a necessity. An indispensability. Otherwise, the chances of having a happy life are zero.

Yes, it’s true that everyone hides some skeletons in their closets. But you can't hide an entire wardrobe department inside of yourself…
Braňo, a field worker in Dětva, a Roma settlement in Slovakia, did not hide his coming out. He did it in an environment that is detached from the rest of the world, closed, and whose inhabitants  have eyes not only for what cooking on their stoves, but can see straight through your soul.

Although you would expect Braňo to find it difficult among the Roma, whose society is burdened with many prejudices, the opposite is true.
Since the beginning of his fieldwork in 2005, he has made no secret of his queer sexual orientation. And despite perhaps somewhat difficult beginnings, which may not even have been related to the fact that he is a "minority within a minority," the community accepted him without condemnation.
Over the past sixteen years, Braňo, together with its co-workers, has provided clients with assistance in various areas such as the prevention of socially pathological phenomena, social security, employment, housing, education, health, and cooperation with schools and other institutions.

"Our community lives in a socially excluded environment. However, paradoxically, this means that the lives of its inhabitants are much more interconnected, relations of all forms are much more intense than in the majority, ”says Braňo. And he's definitely right.
Braňo's experience shows that a discriminated society does not always discriminate against someone weaker, more vulnerable. In his case, it's even the opposite. Members of the Roma community in Dětva provide each other with a safe haven in which - unfortunately only in it - they can be free and be themselves.

"Everyone knows everyone perfectly, that is, even otherwise sexually oriented people find it difficult to hide their orientation. But on the other hand, I have to point out that they don't even have a reason to hide something, because otherness of every kind is tolerated in our community, "adds Braňo.

Certainly, but we can conclude that Braňo's work as a field worker also had a strong positive effect on the relationship of the inhabitants of the Roma settlement in Dětva towards people who have different sexual orientation. After all, together with other field-workers, they have been trying for more than fifteen years in all possible ways to improve their often unhappy living conditions. Then it really doesn't matter if you are gay or not…

Braňo has seen a positive shift over the last ten years. However, not on the legislative level: “The protection of sexual minorities at Dětva copies the overall situation in Slovakia. The local government lacks interest in minorities in general, including sexual ones. The laws passed are followed only on paper, but covered discrimination and rejection exist here to a large extent and in all areas of life. That is why I perceive the environment of our settlement as a safe bubble of tolerance inside a huge bubble of intolerance – the whole country.

Hopefully, the small bubble with its tolerance will soon infect the large bubble…
Braňo is one of those people who works hard to make it happen. Thanks to him, the LGBT+ Roma close to him are not exposed to overwhelming social condemnation.