Eva Gračanin, you are long-term editor in chief of Slovenian LGBT-blog which covers a wide range of topics from news, life, people to health, culture and archive. Do you have any politics or philosophy as an editor in chief, what kind of authors and articles do you accept and if you refuse anyone, why?
Narobe blog is an LGBT blog covering different topics in Slovenia, the Balkans, Europe and the World through the prism of gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexuality. Writers are encouraged to approach topics in a norm critical manner and question social categories, concepts, phenomena through a lens or lenses of non-violence, solidarity and equity.
For example: If an oppressive apparatus such as armed forces in a particular country publically declare that they welcome LGBT persons among their ranks, we would try to analyse this statement and see how armed forces inclusive of LGBT persons contribute to non-violence, solidarity and equity. In short, we would examine the level of pinkwashing in such a public statement.
The politics or philosophy of Narobe blog can be deduced form its title. Narobe could be translated into English as Wrong. If I reuse a slogan of Narobe blog’s sister magazine Narobe, which is currently not being issued due to financial difficulties: Narobe is a blog in which everything is right. Also in a sense that anything goes from a standpoint of norm critical approach.
Does your Blog writer need to have a(ny) particular style of writing, does (s)he needs to pay attention to certain LGBT-sensitive words and terms?
When we write about a certain topic connected to a certain community, we try to use the language that a particular community is using to describe their identities and experiences. If such community does not yet exist in Slovenia, we turn to similar communities abroad, mostly in USA and UK. We then discuss how a particular word or phrase should be translated into Slovenian. Some of these translated words and phrases are accepted by the LGBT community and some replaced by more exact and respectful translations.
Writers are also encouraged the question the meaning of different words. Does a particular word really convey the meaning we are looking for or is it conveying a meaning preferred or even imposed by groups in position of power? For example: In Slovenian language diversity is still often referred to as otherness (drugačnost in Slovenian) although Slovenian language has a perfectly functional word for diversity – raznolikost.
Slovenian language is also very gendered and based on gender binary. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, even verbs are gendered in most forms and tenses. Furthermore, the male grammatical gender is dominant as it is also used a generic grammatical gender. Therefore, we have decided to use a form, a way of writing that connects and divides both regulated grammatical genders and at the same time creates space for grammatical genders that do not exist yet. This form of writing is raising founded and most of the times unfounded concerns. However, currently this is the most comprehensive way of addressing cissexism and misogyny in Slovenian grammar.
Language is important. Words are important. They are our only tool to describe and create the world(s) inside of us and around us.
Do writers for your blog need to have any other particular knowledge, knowledge in journalism? What about intertwining knowledge of LGBT-topics with certain philosophical, sociological or historical knowledge/theories?
It is desirable that writers are familiar with at least the basics of journalism: how texts should be structured; how to assess the reliability of different sources; how to communicate with different sources etc. However, writers can also learn this by joining Narobe blog’s team. It is important that writers are familiar or get themselves familiar with the latest sociological, anthropological, psychological and/or philosophical knowledge and asses it. Not in a sense that they dismiss it, but that they find arguments that support the strong points and reveal its shortcomings.
At Blog you also covered reviews of lesbian films and recaps of lesbian characters in TV-shows. How were you satisfied with the reviews, as I was the one who covered these topics. Do you think that positive lesbian representation in films and TV-shows can (actually) improve life of lesbians?
I think visibility of any minority in popular culture is important, especially for people who are looking for their identity or identities or are in difficult situations because of their non-normative personal circumstance(s). However, I must stress that in order for a representation of a minority in popular culture to improve individual lives it has to be rooted in diversity of experience and reflect different positions of power in society.
Furthermore, I think it is crucial that the creators of such representations, writers, directors, actors etc., are themselves part of such minority or minorities. Why? For example, nowadays we find it unacceptable for cisgender male actors to portray female characters or for white actors to portray people of colour. It is especially crucial for the wellbeing and safety of transgender women to not be portrayed in popular culture by cisgender men.
This said, I think it is perfectly ok for an actress who is also a lesbian to portray a heterosexual character or for an actress_actor who is also transgender to portray a cisgender character. For me, this does not constitute double standards. Not, if I take into consideration positions of power in society and the meaning of authentic portrayal of minorities in popular culture for the wellbeing of individuals who are part of such minorities. To be more concrete: it has absolutely no effect on my wellbeing or safety if a heterosexual character is portrayed by an actress who is a lesbian or if a cisgender female character is portrayed by an actress who is a transgender women. It also does not affect the authenticity of such portrayal. Provided that the actress does her job properly. (Smiles.)
In my opinion, we cannot think popular culture as separate from our society or societies. Therefore, I was glad to publish your reviews of lesbian films and recaps of lesbian characters in TV-shows. I think you contributed substantially to the debate on how popular culture and real life experience are intertwined.
What about lesbian intellectuals (physicist, biologist and philosophers, sociologists) and artists, such as musicians, designers, painters, have you covered any topics regarding them, such as their theories, experiments, music, paintings?
Not enough. By far not enough. Not because I find these topics unimportant, but because Narobe blog has never been properly financially supported and has always relied heavily on volunteer work. Therefore most of the times we only have the resources to cover the most pressing issues.
And last but not least, do you have anything to add about things I haven't asked you but you wished I would and has to do with (the future) vision of Blog?
I see Narobe blog as a tool for LGBT persons and activists in Slovenia to quickly and easily access reliable, accurate and up-to-date information about different topics seen through the prism of gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexuality. I also see it as a safer space for LGBT journalists and writers to perfect their knowledge and skills. I hope that it will keep on evolving despite of the difficulties on the away.