Monday, 11 August 2008

Message from the head of LGBT NGO in Georgia

Well known gay rights activist from the US Michael Petrelis initiated an exchange of messages to the Gays Without Borders group on Yahoo being concerned about well being of gay people in Georgia and South Ossetia. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone from the South Ossetia, but I know Paata Sabelashvili, head of Georgian only LGBT organisation – Inclusive Foundation. I got involved in the conversation and mentioned about Inclusive Foundation.

Hi guys,

I've been in touch with the head of Georgian only LGBT NGO - Inclusive Foundation. He is OK, well, as 'OK' as the rest of the population.

Best Wishes,

Based on this conversation, Michael made the following blog post:
Georgian Gay Leader is Alive and OK

I forwarded our conversation to Paata, and we just heard back from him from Tbilisi:

Hello everybody,

In the first place, let me thank you for expressing solidarity in this difficult moment.

I am the head of Inclusive Foundation. Unfortunately, I have not been able to take good care of the NGO these days as I was helping out journalists who covered the events. I was with Danish TV2 journalists as close to capital of South Ossetia as 6 km today. Bombs have been dropped around us. we saw 3 jets and heared more, as well as the noise from more than 20 charges being released.

It is close to panic situation. I am now sitting in the office and try to get on hold with family and friends. mobile phones are down. I am not sure when will internet go off. Russian troops are stationed 20 km west to capital Tbilisi and people are fleeing the city. I do not know what is on invaders' mind but it is really bad what is on in town.

Only reason our website still works is that it is placed outside Georgia and does not have Georgian domain.

It is not so easy for me to make clear points. So, obviously I need to stop writing and go back to why I came to office: to back up all our workfiles in case office is bomned.

I thank you for thinking of us and I wish peace to all of you no matter where you are.


Paata Sabelashvili
(by the way we are out and publicly visible - you can see that in our magazine as well)...


Michael said...

Hi Artmika,

Thank you so much for maintaining this great blog, so I can learn about you, gay Armenians, and gays in your part of the world. I cannot thank you enough for contacting for our brother Paata. We all have a role to play to maintain solidarity with each other, and just staying in communication is a big accomplishment.

Here is the reply I sent to Paata, then his response to me, and finally my latest reply to Paata.

As soon as I hear from him again, I will let you know what he says. And if he speak with him on the phone, or get emails from him, let me know, okay?

Take good care of yourself.

Best regards,


Dear Paata,

I am so happy to hear directly from you. Many gay and straight people have read this blog post and have told me they are deeply worried about you and all gays in Georgia.

They all ask the same question: How can we help the Inclusive Foundation?

We hope for a fast cease-fire to the warfare and a chance at peace for all peoples in Georgia and South Ossetia.

I apologize for making a wrong assumption about you and visibility as a gay leader.

Please keep in touch and let us know about your safety. Other than standing in solidarity with you, Paata, what else can we do to assist you in this time of war?

Warm regards,

Dear Michael,

Thanks again for being so supportive!

I do not think you can do much for the community and inclusive right now. But the thing is that we are in no unique position. The entire country suffers equally (at least in this way there is some equality) and we are hoping that everything will resolve soon.

Thanks you again for thinking of us!

I will keep you posted.


Dear Praata,

I am honored that you write me and then I share with people your messages of thanks. It feels like such a small gesture, blogging about you and gays in Georgia, but it feel very big to hear from you.

I'd like to suggest you post a message on the Inclusive Foundation web site. Your messages to me would make a great letter to the world, from you and the gays inside Georgia, at this time of war.

Just updating your site with a short letter will give us hope and solidarity for you.

Also, please send me any photos or videos you have of yourself or other Georgian gays, taken in the past week since the war began.

I will share the images through my blog.

Finally, please send me your email address. My email is and I'd like to share private emails with you.

I stand in solidarity with you, Paata, at this difficult time for you and all of Georgia's citizens.

Warm regards,

artmika said...

Dear Michael,

Many thanks for your nice words, your support and for following my blog.

I would definitely let you know if I hear anything further from him.

best wishes,

Michael said...

hi artmika, here is a note i'm sending around the web. please share it, if you think it will help reach paata and gays in georgia.

Dear Friends,

I've searched the web for email addresses for our gay brother in Georgia, Paata Sabelashvili, because I want to communicate directly with him.

Up until now, my only communication with Paata has been through the comments section of my blog, and that simply isn't good enough for me, and my campaign to maintain solidarity with him, and all gay Georgians.

I am requesting that you contact all gay Georgians you know, and Paata too, and ask how they are doing, let them know we are concerned for them, and see if there is anything we can do to assist them.

These are the addresses I found for Paata:

If you have another, or know which of the addresses above is the best one to reach Paata, please let me know.

Wherever you are, please pitch in and help build solidarity with the gay community in Georgia.

In peace and solidarity,
Michael Petrelis