The New Press is releasing another fascinating entry in their line of photo journalism books about LGBTQ cultures from around the world. Lives in Transition: LGBTQ Serbia by Serbian born photographer Slobodan Randjelovic is being released later this month and documents the struggles of LGBTQ people in a part of the world plagued by intolerance from religious influences as well as right wing nationalist movements.
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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 turned violent 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.Lives in Transition: LGBTQ Serbia (The New Press, November 2018) by Serbian born photographer Slobodan Randjelovic is a powerful portrait of a community battling homophobia and transphobia in Serbia. It is part of the ongoing critically acclaimed series of photobooks published by The New Press with the Arcus Foundation and Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios (EWS) on queer communities around the world.The book captures the struggles and successes of sixteen 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 opportunities 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.Slobodan hopes his book shows a glimpse into the lives of the LGBTQ community in Serbia. His wish is that anyone who reads it “… can find empathy and understand that we are all human, that we all hurt, and that we all love. We all deserve to be treated equally and respectfully, and we all have the right to live with dignity.” Following are highlights from the powerful stories in Lives in Transition:Above Left: Nenad Mihailovic & Bojan Babic — Nenad suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and is wheelchair bound. He is cared for by his partner Babic. Because of Nenad’s work in political blogging, Nenad and Bojan received death threats. Afraid that someone might actually harm them, they applied for asylum in the United States and moved to Los Angeles. They discovered that there is a treatment for Nenad’s condition in the US that would provide some relief, but they can’t afford it and insurance wouldn’t cover it. About a year later they moved back to Serbia.Above Right: Sonja Sajzor — “When I enter a room, if people know about me and know that I’m trans, they expect me to be less capable, to not have great and creative ideas. Somehow, they identify being trans with inferiority. But then, after I’ve spoken to them and after they’ve heard what I have to say, I come across as eloquent and creative, as professional.”Above Left: Marko Savic and Aleksandra Arsic — Marko is a trans man. He lives in Belgrade with his girlfriend Aleksandra. Marko underwent gender affirming surgery followed by a long and painful recovery. At one point he developed an infection and almost died as he had to wait 10 days to be treated by a doctor. Five months after surgery he is still waiting on his new I.D. that shows he is a male. Without it he can’t get a driver’s license or legitimate work. “My whole life has been a constant battle.”Above Right: Irina Radosevic & R. — Irina and R. are domestic partners. Irina has a daughter through a previous relationship with a man who her parents forced her to marry after they discovered she was a lesbian. Her husband was violent and she eventually ran away with her daughter. Irina suffers from a painful spinal condition and has permanent neural damage to one of her hands which makes it difficult for her to work. The women are struggling to make ends meet, but they can’t get a loan as they are not able to marry legally.Above Left: Stefan Radojkvic — “I was twenty-one when Stefica become part of me. I’d like to be buried dressed as Stefica, but I’d like my epitaph to carry both names: Stefan and Stefica. I feel that the woman inside me is strong. I feel her all the time. I’m both of them all the time.”Above Right: Srdjan Dimitrijevic and Dalibor Vujovic — Srdjan and Dalibor are domestic partners who recently celebrated their 6th anniversary as a couple. They are frequently called “faggots” when they walk down the street together. They keep their heads down as reacting is dangerous. Dalibor: “When I think of the future, I want to be able to walk on the street and hold his hand without fear of being attacked, either verbally or physically.”_________________________________________________________________________________
Lives in Transition includes an introduction by Predrag Azdejkovic, a Serbian gay activist and journalist. Azdejkovic’s story is featured in the book.Lives in Transition is the tenth title in the critically acclaimed photobook series published by The New Press about LGBTQ communities around the world. Previous titles include Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentinaby Kike Arnal; Five Bells: Being LGBT in Australia by Jenny Papalexandris; Pride and Joy: Taking the Streets of New York City by Jurek Wajdowicz; Delhi: Communities of Belonging by Sunil Gupta and Charan Singh; Edges of the Rainbow: LGBTQ Japan by Michel Delsol and Haruku Shinozaki; The Kids: The Children of LGBTQ Parents in the USA by Gabriela Herman; and Out: LGBTQ Poland by Maciek Nabrdalik. The photobook series is the result of a unique collaboration between the Arcus Foundation, Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios, and The New Press.About the Photographer:Slobodan Randjelovic is a Serbian-born architect currently working in New York City. He is also a photographer and passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights, environmental conservation, and the arts. The author of Lives in Transition: LGBTQ Serbia (The New Press), he serves on the board of the ARCUS Foundation, the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, New York Live Arts, and the Design Committee of the Park Avenue Armory.About the Publisher:The New Press publishes books that promote and enrich public discussion and understanding of the issues vital to our democracy and to a more equitable world. These books are made possible by the enthusiasm of our readers; the support of a committed group of donors, large and small; the collaboration of our many partners in the independent media and the not-for-profit sector; booksellers, who often hand-sell New Press books; librarians; and above all by our authors. Read more here.Book Specifications for Lives in Transition:Paperback: 160 pages8 x 10 inchesISBN: 978-1-62097-373-8Product Dimensions: 3.9 x 0.5 x 8 inchesList Price: $21.99 US