Research team


Мain professional interests: gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria. Currently, Shaban is investigating sexual minorities and identities in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. More specifically his FWO project is focused on the construction of male homosexual identities In Bulgaria using a generational perspective.

Post-Communist Sexualities: Social Construction of Homosexual Male Identities in Bulgaria. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022


Homosexual practices were completely outlawed in Bulgaria under socialism and they were prosecuted by the communist state. After 1989, the issue of homosexuality entered public discourse but support for homosexuality, and in particular male homosexuality, encountered strong resistance from the mainstream media. This resistance was driven by the homophobic attitudes of political and religious elites, which resulted in high levels of discrimination and abuse against sexual minorities and a lack of political will and measures to address these issues. Ironically, the expansion of the EU in 2007 shifted the perspective on homosexuality, confronting the Bulgarian government with numerous issues in the process of transposing the EU directives regarding the rights of LGBTQ people. Challenging certain theories which do not pay attention to the regional specificities in the process of construction of homosexual identities, this study will be one of the first to explore the social construction of homosexual male identities in Bulgaria and it will make an important contribution to the existing literature on the topic of gay identities. Using oral histories and semi structured in-depth interviews, the main objective of the study is to investigate the social construction of homosexual male identities, focusing on the experiences and the exigencies have been faced by three generations of gay men in Bulgaria. These include (a) Bulgaria's socialist past, (b) the enlargement of the EU in 2007, and (c) global processes, the Internet and social media. Furthermore, the study promises to challenge the existing concepts of gay identity, gay community and gay activism by investigating to what extent Western notions of gay identity and gay community are relevant in the Bulgarian context and how these notions have been experienced on a local level.


Research team(s)

Project website

Project type(s)

  • Research Project