Friday, 16 May 2008

Armenian gay rights organisation in LA - GALAS, blasts Glendale Armenian American homophobia

AGLA NY reports on a welcome move by Armenian gay rights organisation in LA - GALAS, which publicly stood up against homophobia within the local Armenian community effectively breaking the usual pattern of "what has until now been the overwhelming silence to homophobia and heterosexism in the Armenian American community":

Recent “Day of Silence” at Glendale’s Hoover High School was an act of unity with schools across the country to call attention to how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are “silenced” by harassment and bullying in schools. The event took place on April 25 and many prominent members of Glendale, including Glendale News Press Armenian American columnist Patrick Azadian, supported the action.

Unfortunately some people, including many Armenian Americans, objected to the protest and one confused individual named Martik Abramian wrote a letter to the Glendale News Press newspaper saying:

Don’t be fooled by the Day of Silence, which is a cover-up and in reality is to promote homosexuality. We need to have a day of awareness instead of a Day of Silence and teach students about the dangers of homosexual life and its destructive consequences.


In today’s Glendale News Press, the president of the Gay & Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) in Los Angeles, California, Haig Boyajian, takes to task the usually unchallenged Armenian American homophobia of Martik Abramian and others (for instance Naira Khachatrian as quoted in an article by Dan Kimber). GALAS’ response was powerful and here’s an excerpt:

We want to state unequivocally that the handful of Armenian parents who were vitriolic in their opposition to the Day of Silence do not represent the entire Armenian community. The members of the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles and our many supportive family members and friends belong to the Glendale and Los Angeles Armenian communities, and we all believe that there can be no tolerance for bullying and harassment of any student, regardless of his or her sexual orientation.

We condemn the homophobic comments that were aired on a recent Armenian television program. They were irresponsible since such speech can cause disastrous consequences for children, who might go so far as to commit suicide or substance abuse as a result of rejection from their families.

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles is saddened to see that some Armenians are unable to see the parallels between racial and sexual orientation discrimination. We come from a culture that is, sadly, too familiar with what can happen when one group is ostracized and discriminated against. However, we have hope for the future that springs from the students who courageously organized and participated in the Day of Silence event, especially given the sometimes hostile response it has received in the community. And, we are proud and encouraged that some of the participants in Day of Silence were Armenian.

We call upon our fellow Armenian brothers and sisters to support tolerance, the local school districts, and most importantly our children. We must all raise our voices against hate and misunderstanding and support valuable programs like Day of Silence that can make a positive difference.

*source - AGLA NY blog

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