Friday, 18 April 2008

Gay Armenian in LA committed suicide after being forced into marriage

I am very angered and very saddened. News on suicide committed by young gay Armenian guy in LA (Los Angeles, US) after being forced into marriage proves once more that Armenian society - whether in Armenia or Diaspora - with its ‘traditional values’, intolerance and homophobia is responsible for his death.

Thanks to his friend, we learned about this story. How many similar cases pass hidden?!

I ask Armenian bloggers, media representatives, anyone who has links with local (both in Armenia and Diaspora) and international media to disseminate this story as widely as possible. Time to speak up. Enough is enough! We should prevent similar tragedies from happening in future.

I tried to summarise what is known so far about this guy based on PINK Armenia press release and comments in Yesoudo: LGBT discussion group.

A few days ago a young gay Armenian in LA committed suicide... He was 22 years old. The stress of being gay was too hard for him to handle. He was forced to get married with an Armenian girl to cover up his sexuality... He came out to his family and they forced him to marry a girl to keep up appearances... and sadly 3 months into the marriage . . . he couldn’t take it anymore... he was under a lot of stress from his family and the general stress that the Armenian community brings to the table about homosexuality...

Here is what his friend has to say:

[He was] an amazing friend of mine… we loved him dearly... he was young, smart and handsome... god I’m going to miss him...
REST IN PEACE MY GOOD FRIEND WE WILL MISS YOU.

What is wrong with Armenians how can we keep letting this happen! This isn’t right, this isn’t fair! The sad part is no one mentions that he did it because he was gay! He even wrote it in his suicide note and no one mentions it! How many Armenians are we going to lose like this!


Below are few comments expressed so far in response to this news:

“As for doing something once again it comes down to his family issues. It’s not so simple coming out and saying btw you pushed your gay son to that point! How do you put it "fact that you have a gay dead son is your fault"
***

“It`s a tragedy what`s happened but it`ll be even worse if the truth stays hidden. In closed minded communities such as the Armenian one (sadly) things don’t just change like that, usually something big, something drastic and unfortunately something tragic has to happen for people to start reconsidering their views and mentality. So now u have this opportunity to at least use this poor guys tragedy to make something good come out of it and if I just stay silent and let it go, that`ll be even more tragic.

I`m sure that any mom, even an Armenian mom will rather have a gay son alive than a dead one. So if u can get it touch with some news papers or some media and tell the truth, that`ll maybe prevent tragedies like this from happening again in future. I`m sure if an Armenian mom that has a son read the real sorry, hear the real story she`ll think twice before driver her son to suicide. So u should gather his friends and write a huge article about him, about the truth and if u guys are afraid about your own families finding out about you, you can do it anonymously. U can ask the newspaper to do it anonymously, but u shouldn`t let this go by. Just give his family some time 2 morn and then do something, either something on TV news, in news papers or even a video of him with his pics with the real story and put it on Youtube in memory of him. But do something!”
***

“Well, this is a story of a typical Armenian gay, which is of course very sad, one of the ways is the solidarity among gays, especially Armenians, we need to support each other, because the only way to fight against the violence, somebody may call it traditions/customs, is to be strong, to make your character stronger, and WE ALL have to do that, to support each other, even if it may cost something to us. The fact of suicide of that gay is a big shame for his parents and at the same [time] big loss and pain for all of us. Rest him in peace...”
***

“It is depressing indeed. I would not thinking of who is to blame in the whole story. I dare say not even the family of the young gay man, who has chosen this solution out of the situation. They are victims of their society as well this way or another. What we could do is to voice out the case and perhaps try to forward the message to mass media both in Armenia and abroad. Showing devil a mirror could be a best way to fight it.”
***

“Parents like this are just idiots and they have no right to show up themselves in public anymore unless they start being activists in gay parental associations to buy themselves out! some Armenians even in America live in Stone age. What you can do? LA gays should be more visible and more activist!”

15 comments:

artmika said...

Global Voices Online

Armenia: Homophobic Values

hr_g said...

You can blame the parents all you want but he was 22 years old. Where were his friends? Why didn't he reach out to someone, anyone?
The parents should be ashamed of themselves but the notion of "community" is overblown too...it is more complex than the Armenian community enforcing homophobia on others. All of us don't experience it that way.

artmika said...

Your points re friends is important, but I would assume their influence on his personal circumstances was limited compared to family one (perhaps exactly because he was too young - it may work both ways), since he got eventually married under the pressure from his family after he came out to parents. Therefore, without discounting the influence of other factors (adding also lack of effective support groups etc.), I would mainly hold parents and community responsible for 'allowing' this tragedy happened.

grigor sargsyan said...

profoundly sad story. Oh boy.

How about educating the Armenians? Why did the parents force him to marry a girl? Were they ashamed? if yes, why? Do the parents know what it means to be gay? Do Armenians know what it means to be gay?

Can you imagine the frustrations that the girl is facing now? They effectively damaged her psychology as well.

I think if there is enough evidence that the marriage was forced then the parents should be tried in court.

I also don't see how can parents force their kids to marry which is another Armenian issue. I mean 22 years old boy should be independent enough not to make forced decisions. So the fact is that some Armenian families cage their sons and daughters which is actually the core of this tragedy.

Artmika, lack of effective support groups? Really, in LA? there must be many gay groups in LA, no? Maybe he was afraid to attend.

Oh man what a way to start the day. This makes me outraged. The world is sick, you know.

Azad said...

Do you have a copy of his letter? If not, can you get it? I think it may help publicise the issue.

artmika said...

Topix (news community on the Web) linked to this story via 2015 Place blog.

Mamikon said...

Most of us have problems with parrents, they can't understand what is gay and how, they don't want to understand. I think this is a simple egoist as they wanna see you as they want, married with kids. They think this is the whole meaning of happiness.
Parrents are building their happiness on you "unluckiness"

PINK Armenia said...

It's hard to change our parrents, at first we need to be stronger not to repeat such mistakes and we have to education the younger generation.

You post it in our blogs:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=292097998&blogID=381679017

artmika said...

A1+ now covers this story :

ԻՆՔՆԱՍՊԱՆ Է ԵՂԵԼ ԱՄՈՒՍՆԱՆԱԼՈՒ ՊԱՏՃԱՌՈՎ
[11:17] 22 Ապրիլի, 2008

Ամերիկայի Լոս Անջելոս քաղաքի հայկական համայնքում մեծ աղմուկ է բարձրացել 22-ամյա համասեռամոլ տղայի ինքնասպանության պատմությունը: Երեկ արդեն հայկական ֆորումներում եւ ինտերնետային բոլոր միջոցներով բազմաթիվ քաղաքացիներ իրենց բողոքն էին արտահայտում եւ խնդրում տարածել հաղորդագրությունը:

Պատճառն այն է, որ տղան ինքնասպանություն է գործել ընտանիքի կողմից ճնշման արդյունքում աղջկա հետ ամուսնանալուց հետո: Տղայի ընկերներից մեկը պատմում է, որ տղայի ծնողները ամաչում էին նրա համար, ճնշում էին գործադրում` ապրելու հայկական համայնքում ընդունված ավանդույթի համաձայն: ՚Նա վերջին օրերին խիստ սթրեսի մեջ էր եւ հոգեկան ճնշված վիճակումՙ,-պատմում է ընկերը:

Սփյուռքահայության շրջանում աղմուկը բարձրացել է եւ քննարկման մասնակիցները ասում են, որ սա հաճախ հանդիպող դեպքերից մեկն է, եւ մեր հասարակությունում դեռ շարունակվում է հոմոֆոբիան օրինաչափ լինել:

Armenian Transliteration said...

Really very sad story. I think more details of this case should be revealed. Is there any statistics at all how many gay/lesbians in Armenia could be?

Generally, there are such communities in EVERY COUNTRY of this world. It's just nothing special about Armenia.

artmika said...

There are no such statistics, and in fact there can’t be such statistics (for now and in near future) in Armenia. No survey, regardless of however perfect the methodology they employ, could reveal even approximate estimates, since absolute majority of surveyed would never admit their true sexuality. This could partly be true even in countries with advanced policies in terms of gay rights. Therefore, I would suggest using estimates in other countries to get an approximate idea re proportion of gay/lesbians in Armenia. It can’t be that different.

Greg Goshgarian said...

I think we need to remember what we keep jamming down people's throats: the fact that Armenians are Christian Christian Christian and proud of it. That's great. Wonderful. But we have to start ACTING like Christians. I know not all Christians support gays but we differ ourselves from Moslums which do this and much worse to their gays. I live in the US but when I visited Armenia once, I was sickened to learn that gays are treated as badly as some Moslem countries. To think that TURKEY is more open minded with gays is ironic and saddening. TURKEY, need I say more?
Armenians have far worse problems than to be worrying about what people think of its gays.
This poor boy. Armenians, stop being so macho-tough and at the same time be all perfect "Family values" on the outside.
lets be the Loving, Forgiving Christians that we have tried so hard to convince the world of.
Peace and Love to all.
Greg

Anonymous said...

The Roots of the Armenian homophobia ,is that Armenians have
lived under moslem domination for 700 years and through the generations we have pick up moslem
laws and become influenced by moslem customs of family life and hidding the facts of homosexuality
which is totally forbidden by the moslem faith.But you wouldn t beleive how many gays there are in the moslem world ,but everything is hidden under the carpet.
the only way will be to every young boys and girls who are gay is to come out.But another thing armenians don t have in our community is support groeps which are very important.Armenians love to criticize rather than support.

hr_g said...

What does Muslim culture and homophobia in Armenian culture had to do with anything. Historically many Muslim cultures (they aren't a monolith) have been more open to gay identities than Christian ones. I don't think that has to do with anything, though it may influence some contemporary Armenians living in some fundamentalist Muslim-majority countries.

Vanessa Rodriguez said...

I get his pain. I'm not armenian but my ex girlfriend is and her famiky is traditional and we can't be together until she marrys another armenian to make her family happy... I'm trying to find another gay arminian man who is also in her situation who just wants to live their life and finally be happy, be themselves and possibly help out a fellow gay arminian whi is on the same situation. I don't normally do this sorta of thing but I truly love her and can't live without her. So please if you guys know anyone who doesn't wanna marry some straight person because they have to, to make mom and dad proud but who wants to marry a gay arminian woman with no strings attached and youyou can live your life and we can live ours. Please, please we need help. No one wants to see another suicide on account of traditonal values.