On March 24th, 2017, on a Friday night, I was talking to my comrade and we both got angry at the anti-abortion rally which had been authorized by the City Hall, and was to take place the next day, at noon. It’s the first time that the Orthodox Romanian Church (ORC or BOR – the Romanian acronym – as it will be called from now on in this text) itself takes the official initiative to organize an anti-abortion march. Not Provita, not some other “pro life” NGO, but BOR itself, as an institution. This happens right after the Coalition for The Family gathered 3 million signatures on a petition to change the definition of marriage in the Romanian Constitution – thus to specifically stipulate that a family is based on the union between “a man and a woman”. My existence and my comrades’ existence, as queer women, becomes more and more undesirable in this society whose progressive leaning towards the right, is doubled by the global fascist radicalization.
In the evening we went to get something to eat. In the bus, two men aggressively asked me whether I was a boy or a girl. Even though I’m used to such remarks, each time they leave me a bit puzzled, wondering how could anyone feel entitled to approach an unknown person in the bus and ask her/him: “What the hell are you? Boy or girl? Or fag?”
Later in the evening, we discussed what to do about the anti-abortion march. Going there and holding banners with opposing messages didn’t seem like a good idea, as we were only a few people and it could become dangerous. So we decided to write our messages on the asphalt and on the walls along the route of the march.
It was 3 a.m. and we couldn’t find paint anywhere. So we ended up buying some shoe-spray from a supermarket and, surprisingly, it worked. When we arrived on Dimitrie Cantemir Boulevard, we were glad to see that other groups had already been there and written messages. As I was writing, my friend was guarding me.
When I was about to write “My body, my choice” on a wall, I heard my friend shouting: “The police!” We didn’t know how to react, we started running. The police car followed us, and they finally caught us, insulted us, hand-cuffed and took us by force to the car. I asked if I was allowed to make a call, and they asked me: “Are you underage, boy?” I told them I was neither underage, nor a boy, so they told me I had no reason to make a call. I asked why they had hand-cuffed us, they told me to shut my mouth. At the police station, they took us out of the car, in the same aggressive way, and pushed us up the stairs. There were 5-6 policemen around us, verifying our backpacks, confiscating our shoe-spays, holding moralizing speeches; one of them said: “We should strip them and spray-paint them from head to toe, so they can see how it feels”. Finally, they told us that what we did is a contravention and they would write us a fine. Then they let us go.
Saturday at noon, I woke up and thought I should go to the anti-abortion march and take some pictures. My friend didn’t want to go. On the way there, I met another comrade; I took pictures with the phone – in front of the march, children with coloured balloons joyfully shouted about their right to live, priests, families, men in traditional national costumes and with national flags with the cross on them. More and more of them came. From behind, someone pulled my bag. I turned around and there was a fit young man in sportswear: “Do you have spray-paint in there?”. I said I didn’t, and asked him why he looked in my bag. We went a little further, I took some more pictures, and than I heard some men shouting from behind: “Fuck you, fucking faggot, stop taking pictures here!”. I turned around and there were about 7 fit and strong young men, moving aggressively towards me. They carried the same banners with “the right to live” as the other participants in the march. I told my friend we should go. The young men came towards us. We turned around to leave, and I felt kicks in the back, some of them with boots. There was a lot of police around, riot police, many families with children and many priests, but nobody intervened in our support.
We rushed, we left the march through some small streets in the neighbourhood. We reached Carol Park where we met another friend, who was earlier retained and banned by the riot police because he was taking pictures. We talked and we headed home. On Mărăşeşti Boulevard, near Budapesta junction, at about 400 metres distance, we saw a group of young men coming towards us. I couldn’t tell whether they were the same as before or others. We decided to turn right on a small street, without running. The gang saw us turning and started chasing us. We ran. We turned, they followed us on the small street. We ran as fast as we could. My leg hurt from the earlier kicks and it was difficult to run. We ran. I asked my friend to hold my hand because I was scared. The streets were empty, we thought to hide in a block-of-flats, but there were no blocks on the street, just houses. We ran. We reached a dead-end street – and I was thinking this is the end of us. Luckily there was an open gate, and a courtyard full of people. We entered and asked them to allow us to stay there for few minutes, because some guys were chasing us to beat us up. They asked us whether they should call the police. No, don’t, I was beaten up earlier while surrounded by a sea of policemen and they didn’t raise a finger. The idea that police protects us is an illusion. We called a taxi, we went to some friends’ place and we were finally safe.
Today, at the “March for Life”, I was attacked by fascists just because of my looks. My mere physical presence attracted violence. I wasn’t carrying any message, I didn’t say a word. The streets are getting increasingly dangerous for queer women, for gender non-conforming people, for people whose physical aspect differs from the conventional. There’s a small step from the daily “Are you a boy or a girl?” to the boot kicks in the back. Our mere presence in the public space triggers aggression. There’s no place where we can really be safe. Where is the resistance? Where is the solidarity? Maybe it’s time to wake up.