Meet Lucian Dunăreanu
Lucian Dunăreanu started his activism work in 2002. Back then in Cluj, his hometown, there weren’t any LGBT rights organizations. He had to start everything from scratch, figuring out solutions to all kind of problems, from a lack of trust within the LGBT community to facing a strong resistance to change from the local authorities.
Fast-forward 17 years and Lucian’s original informal group of LGBT activists has turned in a solid organization. He organized three editions of the Cluj Pride parade (the last one attended by over 3500 participants), fourteen editions of the Gay Movie Nights Festivals and carried out dozens of projects and campaigns aimed at making Cluj a more LGBT friendly city.
The revelatory moment
What filled the cup for Lucian was being violently rejected by his family after finding out by about his sexual orientation from his partner, who was blackmailing him. It took many years before his family tied up its connection with him again.
The first victory
It was a long journey from that moment, but last year, during the third edition of Cluj Pride, he took the stage and said in front of more than three thousand people, what he said many times before during meetings of the LGBT communities: ‘WE ARE HERE’. Seeing all those people proud of their sexual orientation and not afraid of letting others know they are different, seeing all those supporters of the LGBT community, seeing families come to support their LGBT relatives was the most emotional moment of his activist career. Never was he prouder than then.
The bumps in the road
But it wasn’t easy. It took being exposed to dozens of bad taste jokes and having to submit 25 official requests before Cluj Pride was authorised. Through perseverance, he overcame all these obstacles. But being so visible took a toll on his personal life: he wants to start his own family, yet people are afraid of being seen together with him because they are not prepared to make their coming out yet.
When stress gets to him, Lucian thinks about all the results he helped achieve and about all the progress that he can see out there. This is what makes him cope with everything and carry on the fighting for LGBT rights.
Extremism explained to a 5-year-old
Lucian considers that explaining racism is not that hard. If he were to try to explain it to 5-year-old children, he would do this through a game: he would make the children aware of what good friends they are and of how different they are. He would try to make them aware of the power of friendship and of love. Then he would ask them if they would consider it fair if some of them, for example the blond ones, to have their access to restricted to certain toys.
Some thoughts for undecided activists
Lucian believes that if you want to stand up against discrimination, you need to understand the needs of the people that are being discriminated. Only then would you be able to make the ones that discriminate feel what it is like to be in shoes of their targets. But you need to be passionate about this and true to yourself and not to expect quick results. Perseverance goes a long way.
Adequate responses in uncomfortable situations
As a strategy, Lucian believes that confronting an extremist’s idea head on is not a great idea. This would just radicalize that person even more. The best solution would be to try to reframe the discussion. He remembers the case of one of his friends: after finding out that he was gay, the parents forced him to not leave the house and pray to God to change him. The friend asked to see a psychologist and his parents agreed. Eventually, the psychologist asked to talk to the parents and convinced them to accept him the way he was.