Gianni Jovanovic

(born 1978 in Rüsselsheim, Hesse)

"If I'm in the room and you use that "G-word", even though it discriminates against me, then you have to put up with the accusation that you are reproducing racism."*

Gianni Jovanovic is a queer and Roma activist as well as performer and entrepreneur with an eventful life story. Jovanovic grew up as the son of a Roma family in Hesse. Since his very early childhood, he has been confronted with racist hostility, experiences of violence and discrimination. One night in 1982, the then four-year-old was forced to witness his parents’ house become the target of an attack with explosives. When the family managed to escape, they were pelted with cobblestones. At the age of fourteen, Jovanovic wed a girl of the same age in a marriage arranged by his parents; two years later, the couple welcomed their first child. Later, he came out, secured a divorce, married his current husband and is now a grandfather of two. With the founding of his initiative “Queer Roma”, the association “Safe Space” and his commitment to the collective “Colours of Change”, he is committed to the rights, safety and visibility of queer Black people and people of colour. His intersectional activist work has seen Jovanovic become an authoritative voice of the Roma and Sinti communities in Germany. In addition, he is a stand-up comedian and brings his audience closer to vital social topics in a humorous, yet brutally honest fashion.

*Koopmann, C., “Diese Schnitzelsauce mit Z” (approx. Eng: That Schnitzel
Sauce Beginning with the Letter G), in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05/02/2021.

Credits: Carolin Windel