Queer Spaces

Supporter of the LGBTQ+ community holding up a pride flag in Syntagma Square (Photo from Eurokulture)

Like most countries in the world, the LGBTQ+ community in Greece has fought years of oppression to gain their rights. Homosexual activity has been legal since the 1950s; however, legislation to stop discrimination against one’s sexual orientation in the work environment hasn’t been enacted until 2005. A visible change came into Greece in 2015 when the government passed a bill granting same-sex couples the right to engage in a civil union. This gave same-sex couples all the rights that marriage would entail except for the actual title and right to adopt. In a country that is heavily influenced by the church, it is always important for someone who is openly queer to be cautious and take note of surroundings. Though Greece has made great strides for queer rights, a little less than half the population still feel negatively towards queer people. This doesn’t mean queer spaces and communities don’t exist. They’re scattered all over Athens.

Pride flag being waved at Syntagma Square during Athens Pride 2019 in honor of gay activist, Zak Kostopoulos, being beaten to death (Photo). 

Starting in 2005 with only 500 people, the first Athens Pride emerged. Since then, Athens hosts pride festivals annually, and today an upwards of 40,000 people attend! Similar events exist in other cities in Greece, such as Thessaloniki and Patras. Most events happen in the first week of June, but you are sure to find events throughout the month. More information on events can be found on the website during the month of July.

Nowadays, queer representation and visibility have been on the rise in Greece. Color Youth is an LGBTQ+ community focused on supporting queer youth. Their website is meant to act as a resource center where anyone can access and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. They provide a safe space for young people and offer services such as group discussions and therapy. This organization is great for those wanting to understand the social climate of Greece regarding the queer community and is an excellent way for you to support and/or get involved.

Another awesome queer space is Athens Museum of Queer Arts (AMOQA). AMOQA describes themselves as so: “AMOQA is a hybrid space for the research and promotion of arts and studies on sexuality and gender. It hosts special nights and festivals of performance, screenings of documentaries on gender politics, as well as experimental queer films, technology workshops, lectures on gender topics, queer music gigs and more.” It is a super fun and way to express yourself and meet others in the queer community. This short video from, the website, shows what these events look like

 

In a city so full of history and life, queer spaces can be found all around Athens. Pride flags scattered throughout the city or communities coming together and fighting for their rights. When wanting to experience the queer scene in Athens, always make sure to be conscious of the space you are in, Greeks have fought and died for queer liberation, and it is important to honor the spaces they have created.

Sappho, lyrical poet from the Island of Lesvos, seen with Erinna, another Greek poet, seated at a garden in Mytilene (Photo).

 

Some facts:

  • The word “Lesbian” originates from the Greek island Lesvos. It quite literally means a person from Lesvos.
  • Homer’s Iliad led some people to believe that warriors Achilles and Patroclus could be lovers due to their intimate bond during the Trojan War.
  • Sappho, an archaic lyrical poet, from the Island of Lesvos, has written thousands of lines of poetry about her love for other women.
  • In Ancient Greece, having an interest in a same-sex party often was a matter of preference rather than a moral issue.
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Written by Nicole Brzys
Nicole is currently a sophomore at DePaul University in Chicago. She is studying Communications along with peace and religion. She is a very passionate and curious individual and loves learning about people and culture.