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Serbian Gay Rights Pioneer and Anti-War Activist Remembered

Dejan Nebrigic was a pioneering figure of the gay rights movement in Serbia at a time of war, nationalism, and brutality on the streets.

It all began in the pastry shop of the Hotel Moskva in Belgrade, on the eve of Yugoslavia’s bloody collapse.

There, Lepa Mladjenovic, a pioneer of second-wave feminism in Serbia, recalls long talks with Dejan Nebrigic that would lead to the creation in 1990 of the country’s first gay and lesbian rights organisation – Arkadija.

“Dejan Nebrigic and I, on the one hand, grew up on the socialist morality of brotherhood and unity and, on the other hand, we had to invent what it means to be a lesbian and to be a gay man in the 90s in Serbia during the criminal regime,” Mladjenovic, 68, told BIRN.

“Since we were starting from scratch, we had to connect with each other and talk in order to invent who we are. We did not rely on what you call the ‘culture of memory’ – at that time, there were no ‘outed’ lesbian and gay activists for us to remember.”

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