To mark International Day Against Homophobia (17 May) -exactly one year ago I started my Unzipped: Gay Armenia blog - I launch Unzipped: Gay Armenia LIST 2008, which will be published annually. This LIST recognises individuals, organisations, media, blogs, events and other contributors(tions) to gay rights and equality in Armenia and Diaspora. It also 'names' main homophobic occurrences over the past year, to evolve eventually into Armenian version of Homophobia Hall of Shame. Time period covered by the LIST incorporates one year prior to 17 May (including 16 May).
This year the LIST was compiled by myself only. For the following years, I will do my best to take into account also readers' and broader Armenian LGBT community views. This LIST by no means claimed to be complete. However, it recognises, to my best knowledge, key developments relating to Armenian LGBT community in Armenia and Diaspora over the past year. New categories will be added in future depending on availability of entries (like Exhibition of the Year, Book of the Year and so on).
1. Person of the Year - International
Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba's incumbent president Raul Castro. She proves once more that one person can make enormous impact in transforming a society and changing its values.
I wish we have Armenian 'Mariela Castro'!Castro champions gay rights in Cuba (photo via BBC)
"As head of the government-funded National Centre for Sex Education, she is trying to change people's attitudes towards minority groups in the community.
She is currently attempting to get the Cuban National Assembly to adopt what would be among the most liberal gay and transsexual rights law in Latin America."
2. Person of the Year - Armenia/Diaspora
Micha Meroujean, head of former AGLA France, well known gay rights activist, originally from Armenia, currently living in France. He set up Armenian gay rights organisation in France - AGLA France, which recently ceased to exist. However, he continues advocating gay rights and equality in Armenia and Diaspora, supporting local LGBT activists.
He set up Armenian Social Network online - Yesoudo, which I currently consider to be the most gay friendly Armenian social network on the web. He is also a talented film-maker. Last summer he presented his film in Armenia - "The Diary of an Exiled Queer" - first of its kind in Armenian reality where via personal diary and perspectives he touches the issues of gay rights, equality and homophobia in Armenia and Diaspora.
3. Good news of the Year
4. Bad news of the Year
5. Homophobe of the Year
Armenian Aryan Order
6. Article of the Year
Armenia's Animosity Towards Gays (by Shushan Harutyunyan, Hetq Online)
7. Blog posts of the Year
A1plus blog - Արմեն Հարությունյանի պատասխանները “Ա1+”-ի ընթերցողների հարցերին ("Armenian Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan answers to the questions of A1plus blog readers" - see also here)
A1plus blog - Այսօր հոմոֆոբիայի դեմ պայքարի միջազգային օրն է (Today marks International Day Against Homophobia")
Oneworld Multimedia Blog - Homophobia in the South Caucasus
Special mention to Onnik Krikorian - as Regional Editor for Caucasus at Global Voices Online - for constantly linking to Armenia and South Caucasus LGBT related blog posts thus ensuring these issues have wider exposure and audience.
8. New LGBT related blog of the Year
9. Homophobic articles of the Year
Here is hoping that these Armenian newspapers will change their attitude and will start publishing articles to be mentioned under the "Article of the Year" category for the next year's LIST 2009.
Chorrord Ishkhanutyun - (no direct link to original article in Armenian; see Opposition "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" newspaper must stop using homophobic references in its attacks on Armenia PM Tigran Sargsyan)
9. LGBT related international reports for Armenia
1o. NGO(s) of the Year
These two local NGOs directly work with the LGBT community in Armenia and deserve recognition and support.
11. Venue of the Year
Meline's Bar - despite closure and re-opening again, controversial opinions, Meline's remains the first and the only gay bar in Yerevan, a place where LGBT Armenians can be themselves, spend evening/night out, relax and have fun. For other gay-friendly venues, see my Armenia Gay Guide
12. Social networking site of the Year
Yesoudo - Armenian Social Network, the most gay friendly Armenian social network on the web
13. Film(s) of the Year
The Diary of an Exiled Queer (director Micha Meroujean) - see above, "Person of the Year - Armenia/Diaspora"
East/West - Sex and Politics (director Jochen Hick, Germany, 2008) - an in-depth account of the attempts to mount a Gay Pride parade in Moscow in 2006 and 2007 - prominently features gay Armenian storyline (P.S. I intend to write about this film in a separate post; when ready, I will indicate the link under the comments section below)