Feb 2, 2015

Albanian Men

Through my childhood, I designated several countries as "good places," where you could escape the brainwashing chants of "what girl do you like?  what girl do you like?  what girl do you like?"

Where boys could hold hands, and live together in a house when they grew up.

Where same-sex desire was possible.

My list included Australia, Belgium, the Philippines, India, and Finland, plus some countries that seem rather strange today.

Like Saudi Arabia, where my boyfriend Dan and I planned an escape in junior high.

And Albania.

Why did I start thinking of a small, homophobic country in southeastern Europe as a "good place?"  It's something of a mystery.  But I can think of a few reasons:

1. The Albanians called themselves Shiqiptare, "Sons of the Eagle," which I thought was cool and evocative.

2. The language, which looked like nothing I had ever seen before, full of secret potential:

English: I want to see your sausage.
Albanian: Unë dua të shoh suxhuk tuaj.

3. One day our Preacher screamed about another sign of the coming of the Antichrist: Albania had become the first country in the world to declare itself officially atheist.  Sounded like a good challenge for a future missionary.

4. The hero Skanderbeg, who freed Albania from the Turks, didn't have a wife (at least, none was mentioned in the story).

5. Once we drove into Chicago to the Museum of Science and Industry, and afterwards we walked through Jackson Park where a lot of people were sitting on the grass, watching a folkdance.  A cute boy with his shirt off, sitting on a blanket by himself, smiled at me.

"Albanian Festival," Dad read from the sign.  We didn't stay -- folk dancing was forbidden to Nazarenes --but forty years later, I still remember that boy's smile.

And his shirt being off.

It's all about the beefcake.

See also: Gypsy Boys.

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