Speaking Separately: 2015 Belgrade Lesbian March and Its Antecedents

  • Bojan Bilić


After a contentious and often-violent decade, 2015 proved to be an annus mirabilis in Serbian and post-Yugoslav non-heterosexual and trans activist organising. That year not only witnessed a relatively smooth unfolding of the Belgrade Pride Parade but the streets of the Serbian (and former Yugoslav) capital also welcomed, until then unprecedented, Lesbian March and Trans Pride. This surprising diversity testified, on the one hand, to the vital currents of LGBT activist engagement that survived, among other unfavourable circumstances, high levels of both institutionalised and socially widespread homophobia. On closer inspection, though, such an abundance of activist endeavours concentrated in a relatively short period of time pointed to an emotionally charged “underworld” of tensions, frustrations, and challenges that local activists faced in their efforts to advance the (heterogeneous) cause of LGBT emancipation.


  1. Addison, A. L. (2004). What GHS meant to me. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from
  2. Aleksov, B. (2001). Resisting the wars in Yugoslavia: Thoughts on empowerment and disillusionment. Retrieved February 2, 2019, from
  3. Aleksov, B. (2012). Resisting the wars in the former Yugoslavia: Towards an autoethnography. In B. Bilić & V. Janković (Eds.), Resisting the evil: Post-Yugoslav anti-war contention (pp. 105–126). Baden-Baden: Nomos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. BBC. (2019). US Supreme Court allows Trump military transgender ban. Retrieved April 26, 2019, from
  5. Bilić, B. (2012a). We were gasping for air: (Post-)Yugoslav anti-war activism and its legacy. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  6. Bilić, B. (2012b). Not in our name: Collective identity of the Serbian women in black. Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 40(4), 607–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bilić, B. (2012c). Islands of print media resistance: ARKzin and Republika. In B. Bilić & V. Janković (Eds.), Resisting the evil: (post-)Yugoslav anti-war contention (pp. 159–174). Baden-Baden: Nomos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bilić, B. (2016). LGBT activism and Europeanisation in the post-Yugoslav space: On the rainbow way to Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bilić, B., & Dioli, I. (2016). Queer Beograd collective: Beyond single-issue activism in Serbia and the post-Yugoslav space. In B. Bilić & S. Kajinić (Eds.), Intersectionality and LGBT activist politics: Multiple others in Croatia and Serbia (pp. 105–126). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bilić, B., & Stubbs, P. (2015). Unsettling “the urban” in post-Yugoslav activisms: Right to the City and pride parades in Serbia and Croatia. In K. Jacobsson (Ed.), Urban movements and grassroots activism in central and Eastern Europe (pp. 119–138). London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  11. Bilić, B., & Stubbs, P. (2016). Beyond EUtopian promises and disillusions: A conclusion. In B. Bilić (Ed.), LGBT activism and Europeanisation in the post-Yugoslav space: On the rainbow way to Europe (pp. 231–248). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bonfiglioli, Ch. (2008). Belgrade 1978 Remembering the conference “Drugarica zena. Zensko pitanje – novi pristup?” “Comrade woman. The women’s question: A new approach?” thirty years after. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Utrecht.Google Scholar
  13. Božinović, N. (1996). Žensko pitanje u Srbiji u 19. i 20. veku. Belgrade: ’94. and Žene u crnom.Google Scholar
  14. Branner, A. C., Butterbaugh, L., & Jackson, A. (1994). There was a Dyke March? Off Our Backs, 24(8), 1–2, 16–17, 20.Google Scholar
  15. Brown-Saracino, J., & Ghaziani, A. (2009). The constraints of culture: Evidence from the Chicago Dyke March. Cultural Sociology, 3(1), 51–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Butterfield, N. (2016). Discontents of professionalisation: Sexual politics and activism in Croatia in the context of EU accession. In B. Bilić (Ed.), LGBT activism and Europeanisation in the post-Yugoslav space: On the rainbow way to Europe (pp. 23–58). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clarke, J., Bainton, D., Lendvai, N., & Stubbs, P. (2015). Making policy move: Towards a politics of translation and assemblage. Bristol: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Combahee River Collective. (1978). A black feminist statement. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from
  19. Cvetkovic, I. (2019). Breaking the silence: Lesbian activism in Macedonia. In B. Bilić & M. Radoman (Eds.), Lesbian activism in the (post-)Yugoslav space: Sisterhood and unity (pp. 109–132). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cvetkovich, A. (2003). An archive of feelings: Trauma, sexuality, and lesbian public cultures. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Della Porta, D. (2018). Protests as critical junctures: Some reflections towards a momentous approach to social movements. Social Movement Studies.
  22. Delphy, C. (1979). Novelles de Yougoslavie: Lueurs féministes en pays socialistes (Belgrade 1978). Questions féministes, 5, 129–136.Google Scholar
  23. Dević, A. (1997). Anti-war initiatives and the un-making of civic identities in the former Yugoslav republics. Journal of Historical Sociology, 10(2), 127–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dugandžić, A., & Okić, T. (Eds.). (2016). Izgubljena revolucija: AFŽ između mita i zaborava. Sarajevo: Crvena, udruženje za kulturu i umjetnost.Google Scholar
  25. Enszer, J. R. (2016). “How to stop choking to death”: Rethinking lesbian separatism as a vibrant political theory and feminist practice. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 20(2), 180–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56–80.Google Scholar
  27. Gamson, J. (1995). Must identity movements self-destruct? A queer dilemma. Social Problems, 42(3), 390–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ghaziani, A., & Fine, G. A. (2008). Infighting and ideology: How conflict informs the local culture of the Chicago Dyke March. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 20, 51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jandrić, I. (2018). Institucionalni patrijarhat kao zakonitost kapitalizma. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from
  30. Jay, K. (1999). Tales of the lavender menace: A memoir of liberation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  31. Kates, S. M., & Belk, R. W. (2001). The meanings of lesbian and gay pride day: Resistance through consumption and resistance to consumption. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 30, 392–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kurtović, L. (2012). The paradoxes of wartime ‘freedom’: Alternative culture during the siege of Sarajevo. In B. Bilić & V. Janković (Eds.), Resisting the evil: Post-Yugoslav anti-war contention (pp. 197–224). Baden-Baden: Nomos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Labris. (2015). Najava: Lezbejsko proleće u Beogradu od 16. do 19. aprila. Retrieved January 28, 2019, from Scholar
  34. Levy, A. (2009). Lesbian nation: When gay women took to the road. The New Yorker. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from
  35. Lóránd, Z. (2018). The feminist challenge to the socialist state in Yugoslavia. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Maljković, D. (2016). Queer struggles and the left in Serbia and Croatia: An afterword. In B. Bilić & S. Kajinić (Eds.), Intersectionality and LGBT activist politics: Multiple others in Croatia and Serbia (pp. 213–224). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McConnell, E. A., et al. (2016). Trans women and Michfest: An ethnophenomenology of attendees’ experiences. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 20(1), 8–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Miškovska Kajevska, A. (2017). Feminist activism at war: Belgrade and Zagreb feminists in the 1990. New York/London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mizielińska, J., & Kulpa, R. (2011). Contemporary peripheries’: Queer studies, circulation of knowledge and east/west divide. In R. Kulpa & J. Mizielińska (Eds.), De-Centring Western sexualities: Central and east European perspectives (pp. 11–26). London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  40. Oblak, T., & Pan, M. (2019). Yearning for space, pleasure, and knowledge: Autonomous lesbian and queer feminist organising in Ljubljana. In B. Bilić & M. Radoman (Eds.), Lesbian activism in the (post-)Yugoslav space: Sisterhood and unity (pp. 27–60). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Petrović, J. (2018). Women’s authorship in interwar Yugoslavia: The politics of love and struggle. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  42. Podmore, J. (2016). Contested dyke rights to the city: Montréal’s 2012 dyke marches in time and space. In K. Browne & E. Fereira (Eds.), Lesbian geographies: Gender, place and power (pp. 71–89). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Radicalesbians. (1970). The woman identified woman. Retrieved January 8, 2019, from
  44. Radović, N. (2013). Ženski pokret I: Diskontinuitet i kontinuitet. Republika, 550–551. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from
  45. Rich, A. (1981). Notes for a magazine: What does separatism mean? Sinister Wisdom, 18, 83–91. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from
  46. Rudy, K. (2001). Radical feminism, lesbian separatism, and queer theory. Feminist Studies, 27(1), 190–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Savić, J. (2017). Ženski marš iliti rijaliti šou solidarnosti. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from
  48. Sklevicky, L. (1984). Karakteristike organiziranog djelovanja žena u Jugoslaviji u razdoblju do Drugog svjetskog rata. Polja, 30(308), 415–417.Google Scholar
  49. Solanas, F. (2015). Video Lesbian March. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from
  50. Southwell, H. (2018). Pride in London cites ‘hot weather’ for anti-trans group being allowed to lead parade. Retrieved April 26, 2019, from
  51. Sztompka, P. (2004). The trauma of social change: A case of postcommunist societies. In J. C. Alexander et al. (Eds.), Cultural trauma and collective identity (pp. 155–195). Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Telegraf. (2015). Lezbejsko proleće: Održan prvi ženski gej marš u Beogradu, da li je protekao bez incidenata? Retrieved January 28, 2019, from
  53. Tomšič, V. (1980). Woman in the development of socialist self-managing Yugoslavia. Belgrade: Jugoslovenska stvarnost.Google Scholar
  54. Tomšič, V. (1988/1990). Women, development and the Non-Aligned Movement. Retrieved February 8, 2019, from
  55. Trigilio, J. (2016). Complicated and messy politics of inclusion: Michfest and the Boston dyke march. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 20(2), 234–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Valk, A. M. (2008). Radical sisters: Second-wave feminism and black liberation in Washington, D. C. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  57. Von Känel, M. (2017). History of lesbian movement in Europe. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from
  58. Vuković, M., & Petričević, P. (2019). Searching for a lesbian voice: Non-heterosexual women’s activism in Montenegro. In B. Bilić & M. Radoman (Eds.), Lesbian activism in the (post-)Yugoslav space: Sisterhood and unity (pp. 133–162). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yuval-Davis, N. (2011). The politics of belonging: Intersectional contestations. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bojan Bilić
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências SociaisUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations