Romanian history is rich and fascinating, but it has some dark and sad pages, some of which I was able to read about at the Queer History and Culture Museum in Bucharest.
Founded and led by the highly knowledgeable and friendly Florin Buhuceanu, this small museum is big in terms of its depth and usefulness.
The museum is located in a private apartment and doesn't receive any subsidies, of course. It's necessary to be discreet about the subject, even today. As someone who came to photograph Drag Queens, I think I did the right thing because every positive report is a step towards tolerance.
Many period photos and documents (even 2 previously unseen portraits of Jean Marais and Jean Cocteau) tell us about the lives of homosexuals in Romania during the 19th and 20th centuries.
There was terrible repression, systematic spying and profiling, arrests, and convictions simply for being different.
For example, Florin told me the story of Mariana Cetiner, a famous handball player. She was jailed for a sexual proposal in 1996 and spent 3 years in prison and became the first Prisoner of Conscience of Amnesty International on the ground of sexual orientation (after drinking too much, she made advances to a woman who then reported her. Mariana did not even remember the proposal due to alcohol abuse).
It is important to note that homosexuals could go to prison until 2001.
Thankfully, things have changed, and events such as Pride have been increasingly successful year after year.