Singer Vasil Garvanliev came out as gay in an interview timed ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Garvanliev was chosen by the Macedonian public television to represent the country, but was not welcomed in the general public, especially after he also declared that he has a Bulgarian passport and had a symbol of the Bulgarian flag introduced in his official video.
Garvanliev spoke with the British LGBT magazine Attitude, which declares him as “one of the first high profile figures in (North) Macedonia to ever come out publicly as gay”.

“I was born and raised in Macedonia where it is definitely not OK to be gay, or any of that”, reflects Vasil. Every time I came back home to the Balkans, to Macedonia, you feel this need to put on a mask. I sympathise so much with everybody here that lives in fear of judgement, discrimination, injustice, bullying… As artists we have a responsibility to speak truth – especially if I’ve tasted freedom, which I have”, Garvanliev told Attitude.

He adds that at one point during the Bulgarian flag controversy, he was afraid to leave his home for several weeks, insisting that the inclusion of the symbol was a coincidence and not deliberate. Garvanliev attributes the criticism he faced mainly to homophobia in the country.