“I, a child of the small majority”: | NDR.de – culture – book

Status: 08.04.2022 8:15 am

April 8 is World Sinti and Roma Day. It is estimated that 70,000 of them live in Germany. They are, next to Danes, Frisians and Sorbs, the largest of the four established minorities. The Rom Gianni Jovanovic does not like the term “minority” and therefore puts it the other way around: “I, a child of the small majority”.

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4 minutes

by Alexandra Friedrich

“The word ‘Roma’ translated into German means man, read from behind means cupid. That means man and love. Human love in the truest sense of the word. It’s something we grow up with in our families.” – This is how Gianni Jovanovic explains his loving view of people, which shines through every line of his biography. And that despite the fact that he himself has experienced so much human hatred…

One night when he was four, Molotov cocktails were thrown at his family’s accommodation in Darmstadt. Fortunately everyone was able to get out.

“But the attackers were waiting for us there and threw cobblestones at us. One hit me in the head. I only remember the warm blood on my forehead and my mother screaming and then – the film tore. So that was the German welcoming culture.”

Gianni Jovanovic knows purely racist violence, but also subtle hostilities and discrimination in everyday life. The parents, on the other hand, showered him with love as an only child, but also overloaded him with expectations.

Disagreements lead to a double life

At the age of 14, Gianni Jovanovic was forced to marry, at the age of 17 he became a father for the second time. Gianni wanted to live up to his parents’ expectations: even though he felt early on that he really likes men. When he was 18, he had his first sexual encounter with a man in a gay club, which took him completely off track.

“I was disgusted with myself and felt like I had cheated on my wife – with a complete stranger. But the worst part was, I liked it and I knew it wouldn’t stop.”

A conflict that ended in a double life: father and husband work from Monday to Friday “… (…) But it was always just a drop in the ocean. To maintain this double life in this way just costs a lot, a lot power and that also contributes to you having to lie, make up stories, in order to somehow create space for you to exist.”

From special school to university

Today Gianni Jovanovic is alive. He has married the man of his dreams and now has a loving relationship with his ex-wife, his parents, his children – and his grandchildren. The 43-year-old is a grandfather of three.

De Cologne has also found its way professionally: from special school to university. Today Jovanovic is a successful entrepreneur, author, activist. The journey was sometimes difficult. He tells how he managed all this in a way that fits this biography full of fractures and a personality with very different facets. In places the language is blunt, sometimes coarse:

“‘Eat shit’ or else ‘Eat my womb’, that was a ‘Hello’ to us and to others.”

On the other hand, Gianni Jovanovic is the language-sensitive activist – changed quite naturally, explaining concepts like “intersectional discrimination” and “toxic masculinity” en passant.

An inspiring book in times of great crisis

What always resounds is great optimism, a lot of joie de vivre and humor. “I, a child of the small majority” – an inspiring book in these times of great crisis, of war in Europe. A plea for tolerance and solidarity, to love yourself, your loved ones and those who are further away. And here we are again where we started. Roma plus Amor makes philanthropy.

Gianni Jovanovic © Alliance Photo / Frank May Photo: Frank May

SOUND: Activist and performer Gianni Jovanovic in conversation (26 min)

Me, a child of the small majority

by Gianni Jovanovic and Oyindamola Alashe

Page number:
224 pages
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Order number:
20 euros €

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NDR Culture | New books | 08.04.2022 | 4:50 p.m.

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