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Bulgarian Culture Minister’s unique perspective

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2012

The Bulgarian Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, has demeaned the gay community in comments to a magazine. Well, actually, he pretty much demeaned everyone and with a flair that leaves American homophobes looking dowdy and uncreative. (novinite.com)

“I find the gays to be the most unpleasant community, since they combine the worst qualities of women and the most despicable qualities of men,” Rashidov has told Biograph.

Rashidov’s revelation came after he was asked whether he behaves in an authoritative manner towards women.

“I am not a domineering person, but I have a strong personality. I love it when women have a womanly nature…I can’t stand it when a woman looks like a transvestite,” the Culture Minister also said.

Rashidov, a prominent sculptor, remarked that he was the only contemporary Bulgarian artist whose work has never included the female body.

“I have always been attracted to drastic things,” he admitted.

The Minister revealed that he draws portraits of people he loves in his spare time, including Al Pacino, John Lennon and Hristo Stoichkov.

I have no idea what to say. But I am getting a mental image of a closet door festooned with pink lights and rhinestones.

Comments

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Christopher
January 7th, 2012 | LINK

Hmmm – ok, here goes into the cliche mode: “dowdy and uncreative” are words that DO come to mind with his pic, and his sculpture would look great on any 1963 coffee table…

Regan DuCasse
January 7th, 2012 | LINK

Men like him ALWAYS feel entitled to judge women especially on this issue. Let alone what variations there are on gender and it’s expression really means.

He thinks he’s deep, and intellectually superior.
When in fact, he’s a creative and intellectual dud.
His arrogance is only exceeded by his pomposity.

And that sculpture looks like a horse eating a person’s head.
Something that might give a person nightmares and make an uncomfortable roommate.

What an insufferable BOOR the man is!

Darina
January 8th, 2012 | LINK

*gasp* So this story made it to BTB? *waves from Bulgaria* By the way, some translator for novinite.com has done a wonderful job rendering some very culture-specific colloquial Bulgarian into English.

It was quite a saga, Timothy. It developed so fast that it was difficult for me to follow. It’s a pity that you don’t understand Bulgarian because I have several links to provide. Well, at least there is some more in English again at novinite.com.
Second “series” of the saga: Amid Scandal, Bulgarian Culture Min Says He Likes Many Gays http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=135442
Third “series”: The Bulgarian Minister Who Thinks Some Gays Are Cool http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=135471

The only thing that surprises me is that he went and apologized. This is really unusual for a Bulgarian politician. Was the scandal so bad, I wonder?

And Reagan DuCasse, this is your typical “macho” man from my part of the world in his full glory. *sigh*

I have to run now. I’ll be back with more details.

Timothy Kincaid
January 8th, 2012 | LINK

Darina,

I’ve been waiting for you to comment.

Would you say that the “corrections” by Roshidov indicate that there has been at least some shifting in what is now the socially acceptable level of anti-gay commentary in Bulgaria? Perhaps anti-gay statements are now more scandalous than once might have been?

I love that we have a local perspective to get a better understanding.

Darina
January 8th, 2012 | LINK

I’m still very surprised myself, Timothy. The scandal was indeed huge. Dnevnik, a Bulgarian newspaper that I consider respectable, followed the story closely in its online edition. But still… I was surprised that a Bulgarian politician felt so bad about this kind of scandal, or so threatened by it. This is an entirely new kind of development.

One of the Bulgarian gay activists, Mr. Dobromir Dobrev, wrote to me that indeed Mr. Rashidov’s words were indeed part of some old interview that he had read before. The interviewer was the same, Ms. Valeria Veleva. She was famous for these personal interviews with celebrities before, and she interviewed MR. Rashidov in his capacity of a sculptor at the time. I don’t know how much of the old interview she – or somebody on the Biograph magazine’s team – had incorporated into the new one and why. It seems that the magazine only exists on paper, and nobody I know has seen what’s inside that issue.

So Mr. Rashidov was right that it was something he had said a long time ago when he wasn’t a minister yet. He was quoted as saying “As a minister, I’m very cautious in my statements” (translation mine) here: http://www.dnevnik.bg/bulgaria/2012/01/05/1739556_vejdi_rashidov_ne_moga_da_vi_kaja_dnes_kakvo_mislia_za/ (ugh, Google can’t manage the translation of this article into English anywhere near decently). This was the part before the actual apology.

So he tried to dismiss his words from that old interview as a not very clever emotional reaction to something that he couldn’t even remember now, and claimed that they were incorporated into the new interview without his knowledge. But still he did apologize. He’s a member of an ethnic minority, by the way, so he said, “I know myself as a representative of a minority that all citizens of Bulgaria are equal before the law, and have never allowed and will never allow myself any kind of discrimination” (translation mine). This is the source: http://www.dnevnik.bg/bulgaria/2012/01/05/1739655_rashidov_se_izvini_ubeden_e_v_pravoto_na_izbor_na). Now he only needs somebody to teach him that sexual orientation is not a choice…

I find this cautiousness encouraging, although I can’t tell if it’s a personal trait of his, or it has suddenly really become unacceptable for a Bulgarian government official to be so blatantly homophobic (it could be an attempt not to look too bad to the EU authorities because I don’t think he took the angry citizens’ calls for his resignation in the scandal that ensued seriously).

Darina
January 8th, 2012 | LINK

Ah, the second link I posted in my last comment is more Google-translate friendly.

AJD
January 9th, 2012 | LINK

He sort of looks like Azamat Bagatov, Borat’s producer.

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