The famous Bulgarian openly gay popstar and TV presenter Azis (Азис) is moving because of what he says is increasing homophobia and racism in Bulgaria.
He is regarded as the king of the Bulgarian pop-folk style known as ‘chalga,’ which is popular throughout the region as well as in Spain and the Middle East.
Azis is known for his exuberant personality and colorful personal style. He’s regarded in Bulgaria and the region as a “gay icon.”
Even little children in Bulgaria know that Azis is a male singer, who wears pompous dresses and fake eyelashes, makes provocative hip-shaking, sings lewd lyrics with oriental motifs and pretends to have sex with other men onstage.
But this hasn’t stopped him personally suffering double discrimination as both a Romany person (gypsy) and gay.
He’s also used his high profile media image to support campaigns for equality and against racism. In 2006, he held a wedding ceremony with boyfriend, Niki Kitaetsa (which isn’t legally recognized in Bulgaria). He also staged a kissing campaign against homophobia that sparked the ire of then-current mayor of Sofia and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, who ordered billboards showing Azis kissing his partner taken down.
But Azis has had enough:
“I am completely sick of this country. Fed up and disgusted with the homophobia and racism … I’m going but I will not say where,” he said.
Last September, Amnesty International asked the Bulgarian government to act firmly to stop a wave of anti-Roma attacks. This month, the Football Union of Bulgaria was sanctioned for racist chants by their fans at a match against England.
In July the Supreme Court overturned a city ordinance banning public displays of sexual orientation. In 2010, the promoters of the same Ordinance had been decorated by the Orthodox Bishop of Plovdiv for his “defense of Christian values, morality and spirituality Orthodox and the sanctity of marriage and the family.”
Watch Azis at his flamboyant best.
Photo by Azis