A woman, who is just reading about the Romanians who steal bank card PIN codes from ATMs with skimming devices, sees a figure coming down the street, shamelessly, completely shamelessly, I must say, swinging his hips, like one of those blond bimbos lining up in front of the train station, although, of course, it’s not just those kind of hussies that loiter around there but also boys who love to suck other boys’ cocks and this scum bag in his silk skirt with a lady’s hat and a powdered nose who, despite that pecker down there, imagines he’s a broad, must be the main attraction in the park behind the station. He’s actually the kind of slut that not only sucks dicks of various jerk-offs but also walks around showing off his muscled ass in that silk skirt he’s wearing. No respect, I must say, and shamelessly, he struts his stuff to various punks, who, of course, have nothing else on their minds but foolish thoughts, really foolish, and we all know what that is. Anyway, this one here, who thinks he’s a broad, as if he had a fanny and not a wiener, and even if he had it cut off he would still be a deformed man, is parading the streets in the middle of the day, right in front of the noses of these pimpled punks high on testosterone. What is that if not a provocation? Yes, it’s a provocation, no doubt about it. In broad daylight, instead of doing it at night, at least, somewhere where people like him gather. The world we live in. Gypsies multiply like vermin and beg on every corner, and on top of that, this feminized pussy! People like him need one of those bikes without a seat, a big fat bar for his faggot chimney, and away he goes down the hill to the station and straight on the train for deportation! That would put an end to it. And our lives would be normal again, like back in the day when this was a respectable neighborhood free of crime. How can devoted parents raise their teenagers, pumped up on hormones, if these cocksuckers keep ruining their efforts to bring up their children right? It can’t be done in these conditions. No wonder all parents are so nervous. All sorts of things are going on. Pedophiles, faggots, gypsies, all sorts. Like that woman at the market, the one that the punks call Sister Square, said the other day, when I told her about this one, who dresses like a woman, life is like that, that’s just the way it is. She just sighted and said, you can’t do anything about it. But to hell with it, something has to be done. You can’t just take things like that. The worst part is, he comes here every day, same time, and every single day, I must say, he squeals with that sweet little voice, how awful, when he asks for two packs of blue Gauloises. What a voice, like listening to a goat giving birth, it makes your stomach turn. And his eyes wander and he keeps turning his head here and there and is not capable to concentrate for two whole minutes. It’s best to stay clear of those who don’t look you in the eyes, that’s what the janitor’s wife would say, God rest her soul, because you can’t trust them. She had a nose for these things, I must say. When that girl, the doctor’s daughter from the third floor, was kicking the ball around with the punks on the playground, the janitor’s wife knew straight away that something wasn’t right there. Girls don’t play soccer and don’t walk like cowboys. That one didn’t even brush her hair, it was all one big knot. A beehive, like the janitor’s wife would say, and she was right. She really had a nose for these things, I must say. The poor mother of the girl gone wild, who acted like a boy. What a mess. And this one here wants to be a broad, even though he’s a man. The world’s gone mad. That classy lady was also right, the one that comes by every day on her way to lunch at The Ole Traditional, a really classy woman, a person of principles, there aren’t many of those around in these crazy times, she was right when she said that everything was wrong because girls wore pants and boys had long hair.
You never know what a man who never looks you straight in the eyes is capable of. Two packs. When does he have the time to smoke them? And where does he get the money? Once you’re retired, you can’t even afford bread and this one is on welfare and treats himself to two packs of cigarettes every day. Expensive ones, for that! Maybe he uses them to lure punks into the bushes, we all know punks like to smoke but don’t have the money to buy cigarettes every day. He’s sly as a fox. Using cigarettes as bait. That must be it! People like him shouldn’t be allowed to smoke. If they could limit alcohol for kids under eighteen, they might as well make a law that those who dress up in women’s clothes and have a wiener between their legs are not allowed to be sold cigarettes or alcohol. These are dangerous people and they should be forbidden from as many things as possible. Even public transport because there are a lot of kids there. And access to school areas. These kinds of regulations are necessary, I must say. Where on earth did you see that laws were equal for everybody; rights or no rights, let them whine about rights, we didn’t even have those in the time of the Commies!
“Why shouldn’t I start bitchin’ and actin’ like a gypsy or a cefur or a muhammad and they’d build me a house. Fuck they would. They take care of ‘em gypsies like they were angels. And hundreds of citizens ’re homeless and no one gives a shit.”
“There ain’t no equal justice under law, cookie. Just like there ain’t no roof over a goat’s ass. It’s all fucked up in this here Looney Land, seriously fucked up. You’re not the brightest bulb in the house, cookie, if you haven’t figured that out! You have mosques all over Europe, from London to Paris, ain’t that right? Have you been to Londonstan? And whatta you know ‘bout Paris? That there ain’t no more Parisians! You see, cookie, that’s how it is. That’s the fucking situation. You did right coming to us, cookie. Ask yourself how many people got their citizenship for a couple of thousand fucking tolars and can’t even say five words in our language. Whatta you think, cookie, should we get ourselves a Catholic church in the middle of Baghdad? You see, cookie, we just wanna be left alone. We’ve had enough of ‘em Commies and the last thing we need’s the islamization of our beautiful country. We always were and always will be nationalists. You know, keep your foreign shit out of our country. It’s like that, cookie. And you’re wrong, cookie, if you think the only problem’s those gypsies and faggots and cefurs. You forgot ‘bout those muezzins. He won’t just sing for you at seven in the morning. He’ll sing for you at four a.m. in the summer. You’ll just be comin’ home from a club and then even this muezzin won’t leave you alone. Be happy the fucking mosque isn’t standing yet. When a camel’s drinking water from the Ljubljanica, it’ll be too late. These are facts, cookie. Facts.”
“I heard you do nothin’ but whine and cefurs just keep on multiplyin’. All ‘cause some smartasses think you can’t do nothing against cefurs. They should be taught a lesson. We went to the seaside during vacation and this one guy was yelling raus and jebem ti mater and then when we parked the car in front of this grocery store, this one cefur spat on our car on purpose and no wonder my old man went after him and almost killed the bastard. So no wonder I’m bitchin’ and my old man’s bitchin’. People’re so stupid. Kiss the Germans’ asses and clap to the Chetniks. No wonder things are the way they are. Looks like those who fuck people in the ass ‘re better off.”
“Calm down, cookie. I’m with you on those cefurs. And that faggot that comes by here every day ’s really one sick bastard of a queer. We’ll come up with something and clean up the neighborhood a bit. I know this one dude that took one of ‘em out. The kid’s weird and doesn’t really wanna hang with the boys, but he mummified that guy in cement like it was nothin’. Smart kid, good student too, they never caught him. And he’ll think of somethin’ to do with this faggot, don’t you worry. And we’ll take care of the rest. That’s why I’m tellin’ you, you did the right thing coming to us. And you have what it takes, too. I just want you to understand we have to take all of these problems seriously. You don’t solve the mosque problem by knocking out a fag. And it doesn’t make the gypsies and cefurs any more afraid of anyone. The police don’t have no rights these days. It’s fucking crazy, cookie. When the gypsies trashed that bar and the police got there, this one cop flipped out and kicked that gypsy’s teeth in and he almost lost his job for it. That’s why the police’re afraid to do anythin’ ’bout it. Who’ll do it, if not us, cookie? That’s how it is. No one wants criminals, the mafia, queers and liars for neighbors. No one in their right mind, cookie. That’s why we’re gonna do somethin’ ’bout it. The more boys we have, cookie, the sooner we take care of ‘em scums.”
The man with a puffy face and pouches under his bulging eyes turned the telescope towards the sixth window from the left on the third floor of the brick apartment building by the river. The woman with whom he had been sharing everything in life for the past thirty years just went out for shopping, which meant he had at least two hours all to himself. Two hours of peace, pure luxury. She did not like him to spy on other people through this tube with magnifying lenses, she did not think it right, some sort of weird morale kept her from doing such things, even in secret. And she did not believe him he had the telescope for watching the stars. He had bought piles of books on astronomy, the star chart laid spread out on his desk, but she knew he was lying, that he did not even know where the North Star was. Her disdain, which she had inherited from the old toad, that icy stare of hers when she let him know without saying a word that she thought he was worthless, enraged him. He did not have the strength for all that.
“She’d always thought she was better than me”, thought the man with a puffy face and pouches under his bulging eyes bitterly. “These Protestant snobs like to think they’re something better, that they’re fancier, more civilized and smarter than others.” He would never forget the day when she first introduced him to her folks. A man could never forget the icy scorn flashing from her mother’s eyes. But the old toad knew how to restrain herself. With a cool air, she served them biscuits and coffee in the glass porch, where they had a beautiful greenhouse, full of creepers and exotic plants. He noticed the red spots on her neck. She was reserved and cooly polite. It was only years later, in one of the fierce fights between him and the woman with whom he had been sharing everything in life for the past thirty years, that he found out the reason for serving them on the porch was because she was ashamed in front of the other relatives who were there for lunch that day, she was ashamed they would see her daughter got involved with a Papist, like they called the Catholics there. This got straight to his heart. He was deeply religious and a devout Catholic, he went to confession and mass regularly, he knew all of Father’s sermons by heart, he prayed every day. He adhered to Christian teachings as much as he could. With a true heart, with his body washed in clean water, he stood in front of her and her daughter and the old blowfish never liked him; she was looking up at him from Hell even now with those crossed icy eyes, wondering how her daughter could make such an unfortunate mistake in her life.
The man with a puffy face and pouches under his bulging eyes did not want to remember all this. The old toad humiliated him on the very first day and continued to humiliate him for ages, until she finally croaked. Her stony look let him know how deep her contempt was, time and time again.
“I don’t have to take this, I really don’t”, he told himself every time when they were driving to the town forty miles away to see her folks. He was humiliated and infinitely furious at the old hag, but he did not have the intention of fighting with the woman with whom he had been sharing everything in life because of that wicked crone.
Pure luxury awaited him now. He would have two hours all to himself and do all the things the woman with whom he had been sharing everything in life for the past thirty years found annoying. He would turn the telescope towards the window of that lowlife who dressed like a woman. The broad with the hairy ass who did what the brother of the woman with whom he had been sharing everything in life for the past thirty years did.
“But of course, this fairy, this perverted fruit of her body was, no matter what, something better than him in the eyes of the old toad; he was an esteemed French professor at an esteemed university. Who cares if mister professor hides garters and silk panties under his man’s suit. Who cares if he fools around in toilettes and bushes with little boys who would do everything for some cash.”
He had seen him in action, this dull, immaculate mamma’s boy. It was sometime in the summer, when the family gathered to celebrate the toad’s birthday. He had to admit the old hag hid her age well. Seventy years old and hardly any wrinkles, she only got bloated around the waist as if the old cheapskate was hiding a register full of cash. She never gave them anything, not even when they were broke as church mice for a while. The old hag hated him so much she didn’t even feel sorry for her own daughter when the money was tight.
It was at that birthday celebration that he saw him with a boy. He and mister French professor drove up from the city in a shiny red Peugeot convertible with the top down. These two were fooling around behind the house and, looking at this obscenity, he was overcome with rage. He saw them flapping their horny tongues, touching down there and, for the first time, he realized how few people there were who were still searching for God.
“There’s no one, almost no one who would do good, people are full of swears, lies and bitterness”, he thought. “How sick is this world, pure horror, and we, the people, are supposed to be one in the body of Christ? With this pansy, I am supposed to be one body, to serve the Lord together with him? Never. With scum like that, never!”
As a devout Catholic, he always tried to do good to all people, but what he saw behind the house was too much. How could he defeat evil with good when he felt like a pile of burning charcoal had been poured onto his head? How could he love this lewd deformation of a faggot like himself? It was just not fair, it was not fair that the old witch loved this pervert, who fornicated with little boys, and despised and hated him, an honest and devout servant of God, from the bottom of her soul.
Nataša Sukič has been a household name on the Slovenian lesbian scene since the 80s. She was, after all, one of the people who got the ball rolling in the first place. Her writings are a reflection of her experience as an activist and, at times, a painfully accurate portrayal of the increasingly hateful society we live in today – not just in Slovenia, but in the whole of Europe and, for that matter, the world. I am therefore very pleased and honoured to have been given the opportunity to introduce some of her works to English-speaking readers.
The acuity and insight of Nataša’s prose speak for themselves. Rather than going into the particulars of my translation process, I want to delve into a broader topic that has sometimes (though not often enough) been the subject of debate in translation circles – namely, what does it mean to translate LGBTQ literature?
As a translator, a feminist and an out lesbian (not necessarily in that order), I am a firm believer in the power of language and the power of literature. As we are witnessing the downfall of “our” publishing houses, bookshops, archives and libraries, I now find it more important than ever for LGBTQ, and lesbian literature in particular, to be written, read, translated. And not only translated, but translated by queers for queers. The subtle allusions, camp references and overall atmosphere that the author is trying to convey may not be as easily discerned by an average straight, even if very open-minded translator, and taking advantage of the insight of a queer translator should not be dismissed as a mere affirmative action mechanism.
If you think I’m being discriminatory, then so be it. The purpose of this very short piece is not to propose an elaborate theory, nor is it to provoke (well, perhaps just a little), but to stimulate discussion in what I understand to be the spirit of the Queer Translations Issue: the latter is, hopefully, a step towards the greater visibility of queer issues in translation.
Natasa Sukič has been active in feminist and LGBTQ activism in Slovenia since the 1980s. Today she works with non-governmental organizations, as a writer, and cultural organizer. She is also recognized as one of Slovenia's first female DJs. She is widely published in Slovenia.
Špela Bibič (translator) (1986) holds a degree in Translation Studies (English-French) and works as a freelance translator. Up to date, she has translated two novels into Slovenian – Renée Vivien’s Une femme m’apparut and Georges Eekhoud’s Escal-Vigor, both with the Slovenian LGBTQ publisher ŠKUC. Her English translations of short fiction by prominent Slovenian authors have appeared in a number of anthologies and other publications.
Original artwork Michael Welsh is an artist, writer, and curator living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He is a founding member of GWC Investigators, a paranormal research group and publisher of New World UNLTD. Welsh's work has been exhibited throughout the United States at High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA; American Medium, Brooklyn, NY; Printed Matter, New York, NY; Appendix Project Space, Portland, OR; Bric Arts Media, Brooklyn, NY; GCA, Brooklyn, NY; Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Helper Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; among others. His artists books can be found on the Publication Studio and Social Malpractice Publishing labels.
 Derogatory term for immigrants and their descendants from other Ex-Yugoslav countries [Translator’s note].
 Former Slovenian currency [Translator’s note].
 The river that runs through Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia [Translator’s note].
 Go, get out, originally from German [Translator’s note].
 A swear word used in Serbian, Croatian and Slovene, literally “fuck your mother” [Translator’s note].
 Members of a paramilitary unit who collaborated with the occupying forces and fought against the Slovenian Partisans during World War II [Translator’s note].