Lives in Transition

LGBTQ Serbia

Part of the ongoing series of photobooks published with the Arcus Foundation on queer communities around the world, a stunning portrait of a community battling homophobia in Serbia

“When I started organizing Gay Pride, I started getting death threats, threats of rape, beatings and killings over Facebook and my phone, and almost every day I was accosted in the streets and threatened.” —Majda Puaca, one of the organizers behind the 2010 Belgrade Pride Parade

In June 2001, Serbia witnessed its first gay pride parade in history in Belgrade’s central square. It was a short-lived march, as an ultranationalist mob quickly descended on the participants, chanting homophobic slurs and injuring dozens. For years afterward, fear of violence prevented further marches, and when, in October 2010, the next pride march finally went ahead, it again devolved into violence as anti-gay rioters, firing shots and hurling petrol bombs, fought the police. It was only in 2014 that a pride march was held uninterrupted, albeit under heavy police protection.

In Lives in Transition, photographer Slobodan Randjelović captures the struggles and successes of twenty LGBTQ people living throughout Serbia—a conservative, religious country where, despite semi-progressive LGBTQ protection laws, homophobia fueled by religious authorities and right-wing political parties remains deeply entrenched. In a country where lack of employment opportunity and hostile families frequently drive queer people into poverty and isolation, these individuals have struggled to build a community that will offer solace, protection, and even joy. Lives in Transition portrays remarkable and inspiring resilience in the human struggle against a repressive social environment and demonstrates how friendship and community can help people shape their own futures.

Lives in Transition was designed by Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios (EWS).

Praise

“In these beautiful, haunting images, Slobodan Randjelović takes us deep into the lives of individuals struggling for human rights—to live freely and to be treated with dignity. Powerful, raw, and deeply moving, the images show us people whose voices society has tried to silence. Their courage, strength, and resilience in the face of violence and hatred are an inspiration.”
—Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
Lives In Transition is much more than a collection of pretty pictures. It’s a moving and empowering form of activism that forces us, the viewers, to do more than passively watch. We must listen to subjects speaking back to us, sharing their truths, their resilience, and their collective power and community oppressed by a government unwilling to listen to their wants, their needs. A native son on a homecoming mission, Slobodan Randjelović does the work of a true artist, provoking us to feel and take action.”
—Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty
“In Lives in Transition Slobodan Randjelović has captured brilliantly the dignity and complexity of LGBTQ individuals and their daily existence in Serbia. It is a revelation without compare that translates the lived experience with honesty, bravery, and beauty.”
—Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation