Albanian Gays' Next Challenge: Parenthood

Published: February 22, 2013

Të fshehur midis nesh” (“Hidden among you”) is the first film ever screened in Albania about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Supported by the Soros Foundation, a foundation promoting Albanian democratisation, the movie depicts the lives of two gay couples.

Last September, it grabbed a special prize at the second annual Balkan Film and Food Festival, one of the most prominent film festivals in Albania, held in the city of Pogradec.

The 11-minute movie deals with a controversial topic addressing the desires of gay couples to have their own families. The lesbian couple declares: “We constantly think of children and they are part of our plans.”

“Motherhood is the great gift” is a sentiment shared by many women including Xheni Karaj, a very well-known figure in the Albanian LGBT movement. She came out one year ago and she runs the Alliance against Discrimination of LGBT, an NGO in support of human rights which started in 2009.  Dressed in autumn colors, Xheni agreed to be interviewed over a coffee. Elegant, no makeup with a modern cropped hairstyle, she emits simplicity, neatness and good manners.

Xheni KarajWith a degree in psychology and a steady job, Xheni, 27, is sure that many gay couples, who are her friends, want to have children, and they do believe in the institution of marriage. “Usually, as they are heading into their thirties, some of them start feeling the need to have a baby,” she says. But she points out that “it is worrying to see that most of Albanians do not yet believe that the LGBT community can have families and babies like everybody else. Even though we believe in love and long term relations and our relationships have the same dynamics as heterosexual ones, only that ours suffer more the outside pressure because of prejudices”.

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