Documentary

No Silence

© Carolina Dutca
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No Silence

I cannot take my loved one’s hand in the street; I cannot share my joy. I am forced to lie about who I am every day. Otherwise, in the best case, I would have to answer uncomfortable questions and face disapproving looks; in the worst case – to fear for my health, dignity and financial situation.

Transnistria is an internationally unrecognised region that has declared itself independent. Transnistria remains de jure part of the Republic of Moldova, although the government has no control over the region. Hence the area remains an island of Russian influence in the immediate vicinity of the borders of the EU, and is a kind of time bubble reminiscent of the Soviet era, which is evident primarily in the mentality of the people.

I have not experienced discrimination in my environment and in society as such. The only problem for me was to come out to my parents that I am a lesbian. They reacted harshly and refused to accept the fact. But I don’t care much and live happily with my girlfriend ignoring the restrictions they tried to impose on me.

Being born in the forgotten and unrecognised region of Transnistria in eastern Moldova as an LGBTQ person is difficult and often dangerous. The majoritarian discourse considers homosexuality as an unhealthy deviation from the norm and as something that is never discussed. In Transnistria, there is silence about different sexual orientations as well as about physical attacks on members of the LGBTQ community. Carolina Dutca is trying to break the taboo through No Silence, an ongoing photography series with accompanying quotations from 17 people dealing with an internal struggle between their nature and the expectations of their society; a struggle to find their place and identity in a world that is not yet ready to accept them. In her native Transnistria, the exhibition sparked a great deal of discussion after it had to be canceled due to pressure from local police — including threats to Dutca and her family. No Silence is the first documentary photography project dedicated to LGBTQ life in one of the New East’s most openly homophobic regions.

I am a normal person and I want to be honest with everybody the way I am when I am alone with Him and the Sea. I want to take his hand or embrace him when I am overwhelmed with emotion; I want to introduce myself as his husband and not his brother or friend; I want to stop telling stories about a girlfriend that doesn’t exist; I want to escape the fear that I would lose my job; I simply want to be happy like any other human.

You think this is about sexual characteristic? It is not. Because we choose, first and foremost, a Person. The soul isn’t of any sex, and I consider the soul to be the most important thing. I cannot be with someone just because of their attractive body; I need to be attracted to their Personality; for this reason, there is no difference for me in choosing my partner, I don’t care if it is a man or a woman.

I remember being attracted to girls already in kindergarten. This attraction stayed with me but from my teenage years I began to fear that showing feelings towards the female sex would cause friendships to break. This is the reason I have had only boys in my life but deep inside, I am firm and confident that I am bisexual, and I hope to overcome this fear in the nearest future.

I will not be ashamed to murder a gay – said my older brother holding me out of the 8th floor window. I knew about his homophobia so I was trying to keep it all secret. But once, when my brother got hold of my private correspondence, his fears were confirmed. Due to the never-ending threats and beating I left home on the verge of suicide. Were it not for the support from my loved one, this story would have died with me.

When he called me that night, I didn’t understand from the beginning how serious it was. His despair was endless. He walked twenty kilometers in the dark of the night trying to escape from those closest to him who failed to understand him and abused him using even physical violence. From that moment, I’ve been trying to protect him from all dangers which could be brought on him by those who surround him.

I am gay. There is nothing shameful about this but, for some reason, I live in constant fear. There is always something scary – the risk to lose your job, when people around you do not understand you, when you realize that there is no bright future for you in your home land. But now, by tearing the mask off, I want to meet my fear face to face. From now on, it is the fear, or me. I want to live without fear.

I am attracted to both men and women equally. I became aware of it at a young age when I realized that I was falling in love with classmates – both boys and girls. I do not consider it a drawback at all; rather, I see it as an advantage. Woody Allen famously said: “Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on a Saturday night”.

Every day, I am forced to play heterosexual roles to avoid homophobia around me. I try to make a joke when people ask me “Who do you prefer?”. I have to hide my bisexual nature all the time. We are not actors and life is not a play where we would have to learn new parts every day.

Spitting, humiliation and abuse from those whose duty it is to protect human rights, broken bones, constant tears, nights spent in the streets due to conflicts with those who are supposed to be your closest people, permanent “correction” by religion, threats to lock me up in a mental hospital – this is what forces me to remain silent.

Carolina Dutca
the authorCarolina Dutca
Carolina Dutca [b. 1995] is a documentary photographer and artist specializing in long-term projects on human rights. Her work involves conceptual and street photography, photojournalism, video and installation. Born and raised in the breakaway republic of Transnistria (Moldova), many of Dutca's artworks are deeply personal – reflecting on her background and drawing on the experiences of herself and her subjects with discrimination, domestic violence, xenophobia, feminism, and social and cultural stereotypes. Two major documentary photography projects from within Transnitria have been completed recently – NO SILENCE raised the issue of LGBTQ+ discrimination and The Places of Violence investigated domestic violence. Also she has postmedia project Fem#In andThe Point of No Return (installation). Ongoing projects located in Moldova and Transnistria include Doska pochiota (multimedia) and The Decisive Moment (conceptual).

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