Bilitis Empowers the LGBTI community in Bulgaria
I found out about the first-ever Rainbow Hub through a Facebook ad. I was a teenager who was just beginning to figure themselves out, and I brought a friend to a queer youth community meeting. That’s how a journey starts, with a tentative step out of an uncomfortable comfort zone. I’ve been volunteering for most of my life, so it made sense to become a volunteer for Bilitis. I’ve carried boxes around, cleaned, made an insane amount of coffee/tea, unfolded a thousand chairs, and arranged spaces in a way that serves the people in them. I didn’t feel as if I’ve found a purpose. I rather understood my place there and felt it with every fiber of my being.
Bilitis offered me refuge from a confusing, abusive household and gave me the safety and possibility to discover new truths about myself without fear of judgment.
Eventually, I discovered my own trans identity and the people who worked at Bilitis were the first ones I told about my new name and preferred pronouns. They took to them immediately, never experiencing any confusion. Instead, they offered me more space to exist and try things out.
In 2021, I was given the opportunity to create and manage a youth trans activist group called TransMission. Along with a small team of people, we created with the help of Bilitis Bulgaria’s first Instagram account dedicated to trans issues and experiences. Through it, we had the opportunity to craft another big “first” for the trans community: an exhibition based solely on trans people’s vulnerability and empowerment. As a participant in that exhibition, I gathered the strength to come out to my mother and dedicate myself to my own truth.
After all that, I became a part-time coordinator at Bilitis and have been working actively with the LGBTQ+ community for over a year now. This work enriches me in a way nothing else has.
As a young trans activist, I wake up terrified of what’s to come, yet I go forward. I believe that connection and safety are what empowers us to go forward. I was lucky enough to understand that early in my journey and am now working to provide that to others.