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WATCH: Young and Gay in Belgrade Focuses on LGBT Serbian Bravery Amid Bigotry

WATCH: Young and Gay in Belgrade Focuses on LGBT Serbian Bravery Amid Bigotry


They're massively outnumbered by homophobic haters, but they are resilient. Meet Belgrade's courageous LGBT activists and allies in a moving new documentary from Vice News.

Last month, Serbian LGBT activists held their first Pride parade in four years. In marching through the capital city of Belgrade, the activists faced down vicious taunts from throngs of hate-spewing protestors.

The venom and animus that boils over in the shouts of the masses gathered in Belgrade's main square is a visceral shock to the senses, brought home in a new documentary film from Vice News, Young and Gay in Belgrade.

"Kill the faggots!" is the clarion call of tens of thousands of nighttime protesters waiting outside the government building in Belgrade to find out whether a modest contingent of LGBT Serbians and allies will be allowed to "desecrate" the streets of Belgrade with a simple Pride parade.

Aside from the unabashed hatred, the scenes are unsettling because so many of the protesters are teenagers and children. They look like ordinary youths, some with emo-punk hairstyles and cherubic faces. Yet their words belie the truth. One young protester, a blonde girl with a stylish, spiky asymmetrical-chop hairdo says the Pride parade had "better" take place, so the marchers can face what she describes only with a violent hand gesture.

In the film, a rabble-rousing speaker addresses the angry mob by blaming low wages and pension cuts on the cost of the gay pride parade. Ironically, violence that broke out four years ago during the last Belgrade Pride parade -- when a similar mass of violent antigay protesters attacked Pride participants -- has indeed skyrocketed the price of protecting this year's participants.

As Young and Gay in Belgrade documents, an impressive array of police officers deployed black security vehicles, gas masks, and riot gear to ensure that there would be no violence this year.

Ultimately, there was no violence. But antigay protesters and Pride marchers were kept so far apart that the parade took place in emptied-out streets, with no one see it but the marchers themselves.

But that didn't dampen the spirit of the scores of courageous LGBT Serbians who marched.

"I am very happy that this is finally happening," one marcher tells Vice News. "I [feel] like I have been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl who found out she was gay."

The young woman, standing next to a male friend wearing a celebratory top hat, continued with words reminiscent of Patrick Henry's famous demand to "give me liberty or give me death."

"We would rather die here, now, than continue to be oppressed all of our lives," she continued in thickly accented English. "It's really horrible."

Her friend put it even more simply: "We are right; they are wrong," he said.

One organizer said he was surprised that the event was finally allowed to happen, but that he was disappointed that so much security was needed. But less than two weeks before the parade, a German tourist was violently attacked at an LGBT rights conference in Belgrade.

In a move that was likely directed as much -- if not more -- to European Union observers than at locals, Belgrade's mayor, Sinisa Mali, showed up at the parade.

"We're going to have an opportunity to send a clear message, a strong message to the whole world that this is an open city," Mali told a Vice News interviewer as the Pride parade began. "This is a city that understands differences; and this is a city that is safe."

The fact that Belgrade's new mayor permitted, showed up to, and provided unprecedented security for the parade may be a harbinger of hope that, as Serbia continues to seek membership in the European Union, and improved status among Western nations, it may be slowly changing for the better.

Indeed, the film captures the anticipation Pride parade marchers must be feeling as a shout of "one, two, three," sets the cadre through the streets of Belgrade bearing a banner that reads, "Pride for Everybody."

Watch a moving excerpt from Vice News' film Young and Gay in Belgrade below:

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