*This article is part of the interviews conducted with LGBT activists from the Balkan region
Kristi Pinderi is an avid LGBT activist from Albania, currently settled in Canada. He established the organization “Pro-LGBT” in Albania. Jointly with Aleanca LGBT (previous Platform attendee), he opened the first ever shelter for LGBT people at risk.
A brief description of the reasons and circumstances that forced you to leave your country.
I was tired of being the target of threats and hate. Every threat message I was receiving in my daily life or through social media was a reminder to me and to my partner that we were living a life full of danger. I also started to think I was not fully able to protect my partner who also started to have his own weakness moments. I started to realize I was not having full control of my life. After years of such hate in and around your life you just cannot bear it anymore.
One day I just sat in front of my computer and I was reading all the awful messages that people were writing as a reply to a homophobic statement by a well politician. I was shocked by the intensity of hate. It came from everyone: an apparently well educated teacher, an engineer, I saw threats curses and hate from mothers, fathers, it really did not have any limit. I thought that lack of respect for the dignity of people like me and for my own life was a result of hatred being inspired by known figures who knew the damage they were doing (and are still doing) but would not care at all.
My mother had just passed away and suddenly my fear started to become stronger as I found myself alone in our apartment in suburban area of Tirana.
A friend of us invited us in Canada and he suggested all steps we could take in order to take back the control of our lives. I saw my partner being refreshed and I saw hope in his eyes again.
I don’t know. I most probably wont stay forever far from Albania. But in the meantime I am happy we are taking care of ourselves and of our lives.
A summary of the achievements you reached through LGBT activism in Albania.
How is your life now, are you continuing your activism?
I work for a non profit in Vancouver that is offering supportive and affordable housing to people who cannot afford to pay a rent in this very expensive city. I work to support such tenants, including giving them emotional and daily life support. While my partner works for the municipality of Surrey, an important city part of Greater Vancouver. I also volunteer for local LGBT organizations here and for an organization that works for people living with HIV. I have been trying to establish support group sessions for LGBT newcomers.
I have also been offering my asistance and expertize to immigration lawyers in Canada representing LGBT clients from Albania. From time to time I do get job assignments as interpretor after getting several trainings and orientation sessions. Meanwhile I am still constantly advising the LGBT organizations in Albania.
And if everything goes as I plan I would like to soon go back to university and do my master studies on LGBTQ+ issues, part of gender studies. I am starting to feel that it is crucial to combine activism with further competencies and skills.
If you had the chance to do it all again, would you change anything?
I would definitely do it again. I find activism to be the most important and powerful moment in my life. Change anything? No.