A series of real ‘I disown my child’ classifieds appeared in national and local newspapers, allowing various families to publicly support their LGBT+ kids for being proud of who they are and who they love. These ads have stirred huge public interest in Serbia and the region.
One of the toughest moments for the LGBT+ population is declaring sexual orientation and gender identity to family, especially in the Balkans and small environments where cultural barriers are highly present when it comes to family acceptance… Unfortunately, it still means facing rejection. In Serbia, one can often hear the phrase “I’ll disown you on the news!” which has its stronghold in real-life situations. Thus, you could read ads in the daily press, in which parents and family members renounce their legal relatives for several reasons, from debt, unacceptable behavior, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. Unfortunately, it is still common that parents disown children because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The association for LGBT+ rights ‘Da se zna’ (Let it be known) launched a campaign to nurture love and support in one of the most difficult moments in somebody’s life.
Gordana Perunović Fijat, a mother whose ad appeared in one of the daily newspapers, says „I wouldn’t disown my children; I wouldn’t renounce my friends, nor my parents and neighbors. Why would I? In this regard, why would I renounce anyone because they love somebody? This isn’t the times of Romeo & Juliet anymore, things have changed, why would I have to disown my child because of love?
One of the most difficult moments for the LGBT+ population is sharing their orientation with their loved ones, precisely because of the fear of non-acceptance. “We want to send a message to all parents and families to stand with their daughters, sisters, brothers, sons, and grandchildren, and not be afraid because we have been scared for a long time,” said Dragoslava Barzut, executive director of the Da se zna association.
The parents themselves wrote the classified ads as part of the campaign created by the agency McCann Beograd. Numerous public figures, organizations, as well as citizens, supported the “I will never disown my child” initiative.
“We have used the negative practice with which the LGBT+ population is often affected and a custom that is in our collective consciousness to simply change the perspective. Instead of „I disown you..“ type of ads, parents of LGBT+ children have the opportunity to publicly support and acknowledge their loved ones through a series of ads in the ‘I do not disown you’ form, which finally gave the media space to a positive topic, ” says Jovana Milošević, Senior Copywriter at McCann Beograd.
Through this symbolic act, parents have supported their children but also gave an example to other parents, showing how important the support within the family is. Gordana Perunović told the whole society that it is paramount for something to be done to reduce violence. She told other parents they should be standing by their children wherever and whenever they can. “Of course it’s hard to stand by a criminal or an abuser, but parents often don’t disown such children, so why would they give up a child who loves someone or feels differently. M message to the children is for them to be as they are, to show this world how to love and how good things happen, not to give up”, Gordana concludes.
The ‘I will never disown my child’ initiative will continue through various activities aimed at educating the society and encouraging parents to accept their children with different sexual orientation and/or gender identity.