Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Google celebrates Gay Pride 2009

It's not the first time Google is voicing its support for LGBT rights and equality. My respects to Google!

*The Official Google Blog

Celebrating Gay Pride 2009

All around Google, we're proud of our work, our culture and, most importantly, our people. In the spirit of celebration, this spring and summer Googlers have participated in Pride celebrations in Tel Aviv, New York, Zürich, San Francisco and many other cities around the world. Pride is a time for the LGBT* community along with families, friends and supporters to stand up for equality, and to honor those who paved the way for us to express sexual orientation and gender identity openly.

In the U.S., this year's celebration is historically important: it's the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, a response to what was then routine police harassment of LGBT people. Some 75 Googlers, family members and friends marched with several hundred members of New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. Hundreds of Googlers also joined other U.S. celebrations in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Earlier this month, around 50 Googlers and friends gathered to celebrate at Europride, Europe's best-known Gay Pride celebration. This year it was in Zürich, Switzerland. After weeks of sunshine, on the morning of the parade it began to storm, but that didn't deter our intrepid Googlers from being out at 6:30am turning a 28-ton truck into a rainbow-colored nightclub on wheels. Hundreds of nuts, bolts and gallons of helium later, the truck was transformed, the sun came out and we were ready to march through the city streets, cheered on by a crowd of 50,000.

Google is a company that supports its LGBT employees, taking a public stand stand on issues that are important to our community. This is not the first year that Google has supported Pride, and it will certainly not be the last. We hope you enjoy this photo album of our global celebrations.

Monday, 29 June 2009

UK PM wife Sarah Brown is to march at Gay Pride in London this Sat as a show of her solidarity with the LGBT community

PinkNews reports that Sarah Brown, wife of UK PM Gordon Brown, will march at Pride London as a show of solidarity with the LGBT community. She will join the main Pride event after the reception at No. 1o Downing street early in the morning.
The wife of the Prime Minister is to show her solidarity with the LGBT community this Saturday when she will march in the Pride London parade.

On Saturday morning Gordon and Sarah Brown will host a small reception at 10 Downing St for Pride organisers, gay rights campaigners and representatives of the pink press.

A Downing St spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:

"Because of security considerations, the Prime Minister will not be able to march himself, but Sarah wanted to show her continued solidarity for the gay community by taking part.

"The Prime Minister will be showing his support at the reception on the morning of Pride."

It is thought to be the first time a Prime Minister's spouse has taken part in Pride but it is not the first time Gordon and Sarah Brown have demonstrated their support for gay equality.
*photo - via PinkNews

Proud Armenians march at New York Gay Pride

As Tweeted by president of the Armenian gay rights group in New York - AGLA NY (below, with related thread):

Marching in NYC's Pride Parade with proud Armenians!
http://twitter.com/veken/status/2373398019

!! RT @veken Marching in NYC's Pride Parade with proud Armenians! #armenia #diaspora #gay
http://twitter.com/unzippedblog/status/2373585379

Soon in Erevan ? RT @unzippedblog: !! RT @veken Marching in NYC's Pride Parade with proud Armenians! #armenia #diaspora #gay
http://twitter.com/w2YDAvid/status/2373853096

@w2YDAvid I wish! But... Let's hope and work towards that ;)
http://twitter.com/unzippedblog/status/2375643792

*picture - via AGLA NY

Liza Minnelli at Paris Gay Pride

Liza Minnelli joins openly gay Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe at Gay Pride in Paris on Saturday 27 June 2009.

*photo - by prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev blog. Nikolai participated at Paris Gay Pride too.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

New blog – Gay Armenian Lounge Room

I’d like to introduce new slightly X-rated ;) gay Armenian blog – Gay Armenian Lounge Room . The author, writing under the name Dino, aims to provide with the collection of gay-themed or of gay interest video clips, music videos, ads, trailers. I am sure his collection will be of interest to many.

What is more interesting to me, however, are so called “micro-chat” posts, which are edited extracts based on personal communications via dating sites with gay Armenians (names changed) and others. Here is the first instalment.

Welcome to blogosphere!!

http://armogay.blogspot.com

Friday, 26 June 2009

"Its Fashion Darling!" (by British Armenian photographer Edmond Terakopian)

Its Fashion Darling! from Edmond Terakopian on Vimeo. (via photo this & that)

Photo slideshow of several years of work from London Fashion Week.

London and England rugby players pose naked to raise awareness of male cancer

*Harlequins and England rugby players Gonzalo Tiesi, Will Skinner, David Strettle and Jordan Turner-Hall pose naked for Cosmopolitan’s annual Naked Centrefold special, on sale 11th June, to raise awareness of male cancer for the Everyman campaign (via Telegraph)

**For more photos and videos - see Cosmopolitan

Open letter by Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran to the international community

Via comment left on my previous post, below is an Open letter by Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran to the international community.


Distress and Despair in the Streets of Iran today:

Open letter By the Network of Homosexual University Students of Iran

To The International Community


The painful incidents of the past few days reached their peak today. On Saturday June 20, the Islamic regime carried its violations of human rights of the past 30 years even further. The People’s desire to choose their government peacefully in a fair election was frustrated by the Regime and the Supreme Leader with deception and imposition of force. This led to a silent protest after the election results shocked the whole country. In the streets of Tehran, miles and miles of tolerant, calm, and resolved masses, about 3 million strong, confronted the rigged election. This peaceful yet determined protest was met with brutal force by the regime’s strongmen, shooting from rooftops and windows.

What the People of Iran want is democracy and free elections even if these are secured within the framework of an Islamic Republic. But apparently, an Islamic Republic is unlikely to give way to democracy. Reports of the dead and wounded in last week’s attacks on civilians vary, but facts are available through eyewitness accounts, images captured on cell phones and cameras, and messages typed online. Most significant is not our numbers, but the fact that we are being shot down in the streets in front of everyone, or being cut open in the detention centers where the protesters are being taken. Video clips and photos displaying killing and wounding, slitting of throats or tearing of bodies require no captions.

Strongmen and military forces are attacking civilians, using all sorts of weapons from boiling water to bullets. The basij, plain-cloths cultural police recruited to enforce religious morality, are now attacking people in their homes at night.

The People are still calm and determined; they have vowed to take back their stolen votes and to stop the government’s fraud with their bodies. Since the Supreme Leader announced the election results a ‌definitive victory this Friday and ordered the People off the streets, the demonstrations have been perceived as open war on the legitimacy of the Regime itself. Tehran was a bloodbath today. Other large cities report assaults and military attacks on civilians; there are many fatalities.

In the hands of the Government today, the citizenry’ lives are as subjected to horrible violence, as is their hope for democracy and a just society. Following the Islamic Regime’s crackdown on university dormitories on the first three nights, five student activists, Mobian Ehterami, Kasra Sharafi, Kambiz Sho’a’ee, Fatemeh Baratee, and Mohsen Eemani were killed. The rest of the students murdered and wounded have not yet been named. By now, all outside Iran have had a chance to see images of the People’s silent screams and the torn and bleeding bodies of the same protestors. Those who were arrested or kidnapped and released wrote accounts of the horrors they experienced. Still we fear the grave reality is not yet understood by outsiders. We know that our realities can sound like passages from an Eastern tale. For this reason, queer students in Iran feel compelled to tell of these tragic measures to the world and to stand witness. As we mourn the loss of innocent protesters and worry about the fate and whereabouts of those who have been arrested and not yet released, we are proud of the patient, determined long lines of people displaying the most amazing face of a society which remains refined in the presence of utterly brutal circumstances. We are united in this and we are one voice demanding democracy. Those of us who are alive today live by chance. This calm and refined crowed is devastated and distressed today. We live in fear and we anticipate the worst.

If Ahmadinejad backed by the Supreme Leader managed a coup against the elected president of Iran Mir Hosein Musavi, and seeks to divert the course of democracy, our hope and our goal is to not allow this to happen. Now that the Assembly of Guardians has turned down the People’s demand for new elections, the fear is that if the protests are crushed, the regime will oppress individual freedoms and civil rights much more harshly than before. The Islamic Regime of Iran, with its history of human rights violations, suppression of minorities and targeting of homosexuality by threat of execution, has chosen to repress democratic aspirations and demolish civil institutions in order to further its control of People’s lives in a widespread, veiled brutality. This will culminate in the wounding of Iranian society as whole and from there it will compromise human rights symbols around the world.

The Homosexual community of Iran has been living under harsh conditions of harassment and fear. We identify with the pain the People endured this last week; those who fought back tears and kept calm under attacks and assaults in which silence was the most effective or only shield. These days, the Government is dismissing demands for justice, opening fire on people, and calling them “less then dust,” “dirt,” “dirty” and “fags,” eliciting years of dual oppression in the mind of homosexual community. Iranian queers have been struggling with the merciless oppressive Regime for years; we know very well what it means to endure cruelty. In recent days, the Islamic Regime has been treating people in the same way it has treated the queer community over the past three decades. It is with this understanding in mind and with a hope for a fair and free future based on equality that we fight side by side, hand in hand against the dictator. We urge the international LGBT community to hear our voice and hear the People of Iran in their demand for new elections. We ask the international LGBT community to assist us in alerting the world of the cruelties and the killings taking place in Iran during these days. We fear that in the days to come, if the dictator wins, a generation -- our generation -- will simply be eliminated.

These days, the queer movement of Iran is alongside the people’s movement. We are certain that the death of democracy in Iran will sooner or later mean the death of all humanity. We are certain that in the denial of civil and individual rights – as Ahamdinejad did in his first speech after his second round of his appointment to power, calling all protesters “thieves,” “ruffians”, and “fags” – all hopes for a civil society will be wiped out. Yet we live with the hope of rescuing Iran from the spread of fascism. On the fourth day of the Silent Resistance, one protester held a placard pronouncing: I’m not afraid of death, my fear is of life ... three days has passed already. Equality, social justice, respect for different ethnicities, religions, languages, and sexual minorities are indeed possible, if people are not denied their rights within the framework of democracy.

We ask the international community, the international LGBT community, and human rights organizations or the world to be watchful of the atrocities in the streets of Iran today, to respect the Iranian people’s vote and their wish to live in a democratic society, and to refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad as Iran’s elected president until a new election is held in the presence of UN monitors. We ask the UN to dispatch peacekeepers to safeguard the People’s lives.

We ask the international community to stand by us and to urge governments to respect the Iranian People and their vote, to refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president until we have the opportunity to elect our president with our own votes. What we want is a new election. The People are resolved to take back their vote. For the people of Iran, particularly for the queer community and all other minorities, this is the only possible way forward.

Today the Iranian People are relying on their own capacity to resist and assert their quest for justice. This will not happen without the support of the international community.

Praised be the day when Iran is responsive and responsible for all its children and citizens.

In the name of freedom and social justice,

Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran

June 20, 2009

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Azerbaijan and ILGA-Europe: first step to conducting strategic advocacy for LGBT rights

by Beth Fernandez, ILGA-Europe’s Programmes Officer

*via ILGA-Europe June 2009 newsletter

As part of the PRECIS project (Prevention and Empowerment in the CIS), ILGA-Europe organised a two and a half day advocacy planning session in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 2 to 4 June 2009 with our Azeri partner, Gender and Development. The session was attended by 7 staff members and volunteers of Gender and Development and its women’s initiative group Mehriban, plus 2 staff members from Za Ravnie Prava (For Equal Rights) from Kherson in Southern Ukraine.

The aim of such sessions is to build the capacity of our partner organizations to advocate effectively and strategically on LGBT issues on a national and international level so that they maximize the potential of their staff and existing resources.

The session provides the participants with a framework and tools to produce a basic advocacy plan with two or three advocacy objectives which they can use to structure the advocacy work of their organisation. During this session, participants selected the passing of national legislation protecting the rights of LGBT people and the promotion of tolerant attitudes in state structures and society at large as their two advocacy objectives.

The session covers the concepts of advocacy and advocacy planning, identification and prioritisation of problems to be solved by advocacy, analysis of those problems, formulation of advocacy objectives and specific objectives, identification of key audiences, allies and opponents and selection of suitable tactics to use in each case. Time is also allowed for discussion of activities, resources and realistic timeframe.

The training received a positive evaluation by participants and we are looking forward to supporting Gender and Development, Mehriban, and Za Ravnie Prava in their future advocacy work.

Gender and Development is the only LGBT organisation registered in Azerbaijan and has been working for three years. They run a community centre which now attracts 300 regular visitors and conduct outreach on HIV/ AIDS prevention and monitoring within Baku. They assist LGBT people on specific cases where their human rights have been violated, offer psychological counseling and social activities. They are currently producing a film with ILGA-Europe’s financial support documenting discrimination in Azerbaijan and in the future they intend to conduct strategic advocacy with national and international institutions and expand their outreach activities to other cities in Azerbaijan.

This training was one of a series of advocacy planning sessions held within the PRECIS project. Trainings were held with Inclusive Foundation (Georgia), LiGA (Ukraine) and Labrys (Kyrgyzstan) in 2008 and we will organise similar sessions with We For Civil Equality (Armenia) in December 2009 and in March 2010 with Amulet (Kazakhstan).

Azerbaijan Gender Information Centre

Useful website on women rights, gender related issues and relevant subject matters for Azerbaijan. Available in English, Russian, and Azeri. This project is funded by the Open Society - Azerbaijan Fund and involves a coalition of Azeri women organisations.

gender-az.org

*Thanks to O.K. for the link.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Armenia delegate at Council of Europe Zaruhi Postanjyan signs PACE declaration on Lithuanian discriminatory anti-gay law

Great to know that Armenian MP from parliamentary opposition Heritage party Zaruhi Postanjyan has principled position not only re Armenia related human rights issues in general which I always commended, but inclusive of gay rights too. My respects to Zaruhi.

She is the only delegate from a Council of Europe ex-Soviet country (if we not count one Latvian representative) to sign this PACE declaration about the Lithuanian discriminatory anti-gay law.
***

Doc. 11969
23 June 2009

Lithuanian Law on the protection of minors restricts publication of information on homosexual and bisexual relations

Written Declaration No 428

This written declaration commits only the members who have signed it
________________________________________

We, the undersigned members of the Assembly,

Note with concern the adoption by the Lithuanian Parliament of a law which:

- deems public information “agitating” for homosexual and bisexual relations detrimental to the “mental health, physical, intellectual or moral development of minors”;
- prohibits the publication of such information except in places or at times when such information would be inaccessible to minors,

Are shocked that such information has been classified with the promotion of drugs or suicide, and the portrayal of killings, mutilation or torture;

Believe that this legislation will serve only to perpetuate discrimination and intolerance and deny young lesbian, gay and bisexual persons access to information which they need in order to live in accordance with their sexual orientation;

Emphasise that these provisions violate both the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

Call upon:
- the President of Lithuania to refer the law back to the Parliament for revision in the light of Lithuania’s international human rights obligations;
- the Parliament of Lithuania to eliminate all discriminatory references to homosexual and bisexual relationships in this law.

Signed:
• HÄGG Carina, Sweden, SOC
• JENSEN Mogens, Denmark, SOC
• BOSWELL Tim, United Kingdom, EDG
• CIRCENE Ingrida, Latvia, EPP/CD
• ČURDOVÁ Anna, Czech Republic, SOC
• ELZINGA Tuur, Netherlands, UEL
• ELZINGA Tuur, Netherlands, UEL
• FRAHM Pernille, Denmark, UEL
• GALE Anita, United Kingdom, SOC
• GARDETTO Jean-Charles, Monaco, EPP/CD
• HANCOCK Michael, United Kingdom, ALDE
• HUSS Jean, Luxembourg, SOC
• IVANJI Željko, Serbia, EPP/CD
• JENSEN Michael Aastrup, Denmark, ALDE
• JOHN-CALAME Francine, Switzerland, SOC
• JONKER Corien W.A., Netherlands, EPP/CD
• KELEMEN Attila Bela Ladislau, Romania, EPP/CD
• LAMBERT Geert, Belgium, SOC
• LEMPENS Paul, Netherlands, UEL
• LEUTHEUSSER-SCHNARRENBERGER Sabine, Germany, ALDE
• MAURY PASQUIER Liliane, Switzerland, SOC
• MONFILS Philippe, Belgium, ALDE
• MÓSESDÓTTIR Lilja, Iceland, UEL
• OHLSSON Carina, Sweden, SOC
• POSTANJYAN Zaruhi, Armenia, EPP/CD
• RACHOŃ Janusz, Poland, EPP/CD
• ROSOVÁ Tatiana, Slovak Republic, EPP/CD
• STOLFI Fiorenzo, Saint-Marin, SOC
• STUMP Doris, Switzerland, SOC
• von SYDOW Björn, Sweden, SOC
• De VRIES Klaas, Netherlands, SOC
• WILLE Paul, Belgium, ALDE

Total = 32

EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party
SOC: Socialist Group
EDG: European Democratic Group
ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
UEL: Group of the Unified European Left
NR: not registered in a group

*Thanks to B.F. for the info.
**photo - by RFE/RL

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

About Manneken Pis

I knew that I could not expect much of the so called ‘symbol’ of Brussels – Manneken Pis. But the reality was even worse, much worse than I expected. Manneken Pis is beyond words unremarkable. So bad, in fact, that I was almost speechless when I first saw it.

The only use of Manneken Pis is for tourist industry and related services. Few examples – below.

Brussels (photostory)

*René Magritte, well known Belgian surrealist/impressionist/mixed style artist.

*This is a monument (in downtown Brussels) devoted to gay rights activists and gay icons.

Homoerotic statues at Arkhangelskoye Estate Museum, Moscow, Russia

Could not resist of posting these, shall we say, pretty something pictures of statues at Arkhangelskoye Estate Museum near Moscow. Photos via prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev blog.


All-male Romeo & Juliet by Roman Viktyuk in Moscow



*via Gay.ru

Monday, 22 June 2009

Palestine to be represented at Mr Gay Europe 2009

Looking at the list of so far announced Mr Gay Europe 2009 participants, this guy caught my attention as he will represent Palestine at this year's contest. [Update 19 September 2010: Name, photo and personal info are deleted due to security reasons.]

"I would like to represent Palestine because I have lived long time hiding that I am gay. I am trying to break the psychological and cultural barriers."

Despite some initial hints, no indication that anyone from Armenia, or South Caucasus, will participate. The first and the only South Caucasus participation at the contest so far came from Sadikh Ragimov who represented Azerbaijan in 2007.

Mr Gay Europe 2009 will take place in Oslo, Norway, 19-23 August.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia Today: 'Respect for gay rights could save Russia’s image'

Last September I posted on Unzipped about Russia-born Armenian Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia’s main (state sponsored) English language TV channel Russia Today.

Citing Infox.ru, GayRussia.ru reports of a conference in Moscow aimed at discussing a seriously troubled international image of Russia. It took place on 15 June, with the participation of MPs, experts, public figures and journalists.

Margarita Simonyan raised the issue of recent police break-up of gay rights rally during the Eurovision 2009 in Moscow, prompting Infox.ru to headline its conference report as «Имидж России мог спасти гей-парад».

“This may seem like a minor thing for us, but in reality it has seriously spoiled Russia’s international image. After the break-up of gay parade, BBC dedicated an hour-long program to the event. The last time such thing has happened was during the August war in the Caucasus”, says Margarita Simonyan.

[…] Главный редактор телеканала Russia Today Маргарита Симонян вспомнила про разгон гей-парада в Москве, который долго обсуждался в иностранной прессе. «Это у нас кажется, что это мелочи, но на самом деле они очень сильно портят образ России. После разгона гей-парада этому событию была посвящена часовая программа на «Би-би-си». Последний раз такое было только во время августовской войны на Кавказе», — объяснила Симонян. […]
GayRussia.ru reminds that “Russia Today regularly and objectively covers different events in the life of the LGBT Community in Russia. This year the journalists of the channel not only covered the public action of the Slavic Gay Pride on May 16th but also the attempt to register a same-sex marriage on May 12th”.

These remarks by Margarita Simonyan are relevant not just for Russia. The state of gay rights and equality in any country is usually indicative of the state of human rights in general. This has, therefore, direct and significant impact on country’s international image.

Anyone who cares about Armenia’s international image should take a serious note of Margarita Simonyan’s remarks.

*photo - via Passport magazine

Monday, 15 June 2009

Armenian soldier (Picture of the Day)

I am simply astonished by this photo. A masterpiece by Ruben Mangasaryan.

*Source: Analyticon (thanks to Tzitzernak2 for the link)
Լուսանկարի հեղինակը լուսահոգի Ռուբեն Մանգասարյանն է, որ այս դրվագն անմահացրել է պատերազմի ժամանակ՝ Քարվաճառում: Մարտական գործողությունների կարճատև դադարի ժամանակ հայ զինվորը առիթը բաց չի թողել բնական տաք ջրում ցայվելու համար

Sirusho weds Armenia ex-president son (photo)

Armenian pop singer and Eurovision 2008 representative (Qele, Qele - 4th place) Sirusho weds (6 June) Armenia ex-president Robert Kocharyan's son Levon Kocharyan (Twitter).

The Armenian Reporter posted photos from the 'wedding of the year' and a brief info on the ceremony and guests. (below)

"The most anticipated and talked­-about wedding of the year took place in Yerevan on June 6. Armenian pop singer Sirusho married Levon Kocharian, son of Armenia's second president Robert Kocharian.

Hundreds of fans had gathered near Sirusho's house to have a glimpse of the bride as the groom and his family arrived to take her to church. As soon as she stepped out of the building's entrance, Levon Kocharian quickly took her hand and led her to the waiting car. President Kocharian and his wife Bella hung back and greeted the assembled neighbors, fans, and onlookers, along with Sirusho's parents, singer Suzan Margarian and actor Hrachia Harutyunyan.

The wedding ceremony took place in the ancient Sourb Gayane Church in Etchmiadzin. A lavish wedding reception followed at the Ojakh restaurant and banquet complex.

Never before had so many high-ranking officials, including Armenia's current president, Serge Sargsian, and famous personalities such as Tata, Hayko, Arsen Safaryan, Arman Hovhanissian, Alla Levonian, Zaruhi Babayan, Razmik Amyan, and others been assembled in one place."

Alex Bego: Russian Men art project

Gay.ru reports on Russian Men art project by photographer and film director Alex Bego. You may find a sample of his work (photo/video) here.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Cher's daughter Chastity Bono comes out as transgender person

Musician, writer and activist Chastity Bono, daughter of pop icon of Armenian origin Cher and Sonny Bono, has come out as transgender person, announcing (via publicist) plans to transition from female to male. This is effectively Chastity's second coming out after announcing in mid-90s that she is lesbian. Publicist Bragman tells TMZ that "Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honour his true identity." Full story below, via Yahoo News.

Cher's daughter Chastity Bono is undergoing surgery to become a man

*via Yahoo News

The writer, actress and musician - who confirmed she was gay in a magazine interview in 1995 - has been considering having the gender reassignment operation for a while, according to Bono's publicist Howard Bragman.

He reveals the gay rights activist's decision has been welcomed by her family and friends, and Bono - now known as Chaz - began the lengthy process to change genders after celebrating her 40th birthday in March.

Friends, including Bragman, have already started referring to her as a 'he'.

Bragman tells TMZ, "Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honour his true identity.

"He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago.

"We ask that the media respect Chaz's privacy during this long process."

Meanwhile, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has come out to salute Bono.

President Neil Giuliano says, "Chaz Bono's decision to live his life authentically represents an important step forward, both for him personally and for all who are committed to advancing discussions about fairness and equality for transgender people.

"Coming out as transgender is an extremely personal decision and one that is never made lightly. We look forward to hearing Chaz's story in his own words in the future."

*photo - via Queerty

Thursday, 11 June 2009

WTF? A bizarre follow-up to my posts on gay-themed theatre play in Vanadzor, Armenia

Remember that gay-themed theatre play MetastaZ I posted about? The one which then received theatrical awards including for “best young director” in an annual theatre award ceremony in Yerevan.

After almost a year I first posted the info & videos, now the “best young director” (award received for that very play) and the main actress feel ‘ashamed’ and ‘outraged’ of publicity after my posts and videos. They asked me (I am not sure what was the exact wording they used) - through other people involved in the play - to delete my posts and videos. I doubt they understand English, otherwise they would have read my posts properly and understand that there were no X-rated comments there, unless you consider as ‘X-rated’ positive and nice things said about the play. Unless you consider as ‘X-rated’ any gay related blog. Bear in mind that the play itself was gay-themed.

I have only one question: WTF is going on?

You write the gay-themed play, you participate in it, you receive prizes for it, and now (after quite a while, I have to say) you are ashamed and outraged of the info being published in gay blogs? You are ashamed and outraged to be seen in a scene (which one of you directed and the other one played in) with a gay kiss? In fact, back then, they were very happy and thankful that the videos were made.

But the most ridiculous thing is the following. One of the reasons why they want the videos to be deleted is the actress’s boyfriend dislike that she is dancing there for everyone to see. I cannot even comment on this. This is beyond me. Why on earth she became an actress, and why on earth he is dating an actress if cannot stand an innocent dance during the play?..

You know what, I do not need your videos. You should ask me to keep them here. From today onwards all three uploaded to YouTube videos are private and will no longer be available to public. (there is no such possibility re one video clip uploaded directly to the blogger, so it will stay) Now it’s your turn, Ms. “best young director” Nune Khechumyan. What about giving up the “best young director” award? Слабо?

And one more thing. Re my blog posts, no one can dictate me of what I should and should not write on my blog. I can comment on any event I feel like it or find appropriate. That’s not your f* business.

The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography


This film was made in 1998 by William Jones and is currently shown at 53rd Venice Biennale.

Description
Every image in The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography comes from gay erotic videos produced in Eastern Europe since the introduction of capitalism. The video provides a glimpse of young men responding to the pressures of an unfamiliar world, one in which money, power and sex are now connected.

To see The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography, click here.

*Directed, written, narrated, and edited by William E. Jones

Music by
Jean-Pierre Bedoyan

Sound mix by
Craig Smith

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Getting a massage in a bath house in Tbilisi, Georgia

"I'm stark naked and lying face down while a man in shorts attacks me in a manner that, under normal circumstances, I would regard as outright physical assault. But, just before I scream in pain, the masseur stops to dump a huge bucket of hot water over me on my marble slap. It's my first evening in Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and I'm finding out how the local guys like to relax - in the beautiful tiled surroundings of one of the city's ancient bath houses, wreathed in the smell of sulphur from one of the hot springs beneath the city."

(Extract from Maxton Walker's report in The Guardian where he writes about the devastating impact of Russia-Georgia war on tourism in Georgia)

*photo - by Maxton Walker, via The Guardian

Monday, 8 June 2009

Gay couple in Yerevan (Picture of the Day)


Armenian blogger Smbatgogyan spotted today this gay couple in Yerevan, walking along Republic sq. and affectionately holding each other's hands in public. (not the way straight men in Armenia would commonly do, but the way lovers or partners would do) Blogger amused by how intimate and affectionate these guys were.

I wish Yerevan will become a place where all people, locals or visitors, regardless of sexuality, will enjoy their time, without being afraid of public displays of affections. This picture is more of an exception than a rule. But it's perhaps a sign that things are changing in Yerevan, slowly, painfully, but changing. Here is hoping...

Մի սիրային զույգի մասին

Ուրեմն մի-քանի օր առաջ երեկոյան ավտոյով գնում էի, մեկ էլ զգում եմ, որ դիմացովս գնացող տաքսին օրորվելով է առաջ գնում: Զգուշացա, ընթացքս դանդաղեցրեցի ու մեկ էլ նկատեցի........ տաքսիի հետևը երկուսով իրար են փաթաթվել ու համբուրվում են: Խեղճ տաքսիստ, երևի այդ օրվանից դադարեց տաքսիստ աշխատել:

Այսօր էլ Հանրապետության Հրապարակով բարձրանում էի, մեկ էլ այդ սիրահար զույգին տեսա` այնքան մտերմիկ էին զրուցում, այնքան քնքշորեն էին իրար նայում, որ մարդու նախանձ էին առաջացնում: Բարեբախտաբար հաջողվեց ֆիքսել այդ սրտատրոփ պահը:

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tsovinar - Drowning in You [Lake Sevan remix]

Thanks to the author of Armenian Trends blog (in French), I came across this link to Tsovinar's music video - Drowning in You [Lake Sevan remix]. It's quite different and original.




Description:
Filmed on location at the Ayrivank Monastery and Lake Sevan, Armenia. Guest guitar player Vartan Rabidian. Based on the poem "The Evening Sea / Իրիկուան Ծովը" by Mateos Zarifian. Read by poet Lola Koundakjian (The Armenian Poetry Project).

From Tsovinar's MySpace blog:

I am not Hye though I lived in Armenia for several years. The name Tsovinar (Ծովինար) is very ancient and very sacred. It was given to one of the pre-Christian deities in the Armenian pantheon.

Tsovinar, or Nar, is the Armenian goddess of water, sea, and rain. A fire creature, she forces the rain and hail to fall from the heavens with her fury. Her name translates as "Nar on the sea." (Wikipedia)

The Armenian culture is one of the more fascinating ones I have ever had the honor of experiencing. I am a very poor musician and I believe it shows in these songs, but ever since I first heard the ancient wooden double-reed flute called the duduk I have been spell-bound by its haunting beauty. I have always wanted a chance to record with it and when the opportunity arose I took it.

I hope these songs please the listener. I do not try to pass myself off as something other that I am; a poor amateur scratching the surface of a beautiful world of music stretching back to the beginning of the mountains. I hope you can enjoy.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

‘Breaking news’: Gay military parade in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia

OK-OK. Not quite yet. It is Georgian ‘Onion News’ making fun of Georgian homophobes and their false patriotism.

There is this website called Ni2 News (ni2 (“niori”) in Georgian means “garlic”). Group of authors reflect on current news and make their very own ‘fake news’/satire, a Georgian version of ‘Onion News’. It is really funny.

This particular ‘breaking news’ relates to the recent NATO led exercises in Georgia widely opposed by Russia. The news says that after NATO trainings finished Israeli army expressed interest to train their Georgian peers. As we know, it is possible in Israeli army to be openly gay. So this time a gay unit called "SodGom" will come to Georgia to train Georgian army. After training is over, they will parade on Rustaveli avenue (the main street in Tbilisi). Georgia is happy with this decision because it increases defence capacity and simultaneously brings itself closer to the EU with this show of respect to the rights of sexual minorities.

With this post, Ni2 News reflects upon recent homophobic statements and actions in Georgia (and anti gay pride march hysteria), particularly those from Church connected far right orthodox groups. The ‘news’ item plays with the fact that due to traditional Georgian hospitality they will not dare to bully foreign (guest) soldiers. They won't have enough balls to go and fight one of the best armies in the world, and they won't endanger the military partnership with the West. So they have to suck up to the gay march on the main street of their country. :)

Hilarious. One of their previous ‘news’ was about Carl Lagerfeld getting a contract from Georgian church to update their outfits.

*Thanks to Paata and Saba for info and translation.
**photo - via Ni2 News

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Tunnel: “authorised graffiti area" in London

I am not sure I liked the idea of “authorised graffiti”. It was fun to pass via the graffiti tunnel under the arches at London Waterloo station. But I prefer graffiti 'underground', rebellious rather than “authorised”.

Emo in Yerevan: Eccentric and emotional teenagers challenge society (ArmeniaNow)

This week's top story by ArmeniaNow is about alternative sub-cultures, particularly emo, in Armenia, and how difficult is it to be different. My respect to these teenagers who defy stereotypes and societal 'expectations' and live their life the way they want to live. Below are selected extracts from the report. I am glad that after a hiatus, one of my favourite Armenian online publications is regaining itself and re-started posting reports on issues not covered by the mainstream.

*ArmeniaNow

When Argam and Nelly walk along the street together, many passers-by turn around to check them out. The teenagers dressed in black and pink attract attention with their haircuts with a front fringe closing one of their eyes and eyes heavily painted in black

Argam and Nelly, both 18, are representatives of emo culture. (A popular youth movement mainly in the United States and Europe, with a wide internet community such as: http://emospace.ning.com/)

Emos initially used to be fans of emo rock, and later emo culture was formed. The word ‘emo’ is derived from the English word ‘emotional.’ Emos are usually 12-18-year-olds; they wear either black or pink clothes, tight jeans, fingernails painted in black and listen to Emo music (Tokyo Hotel, AFI, Avril Lavine, etc.). (The first emo appeared in Yerevan in 2007.)

Argam Babayan, 18, is believed to be the only ‘Emo boy’ in Yerevan. Argam does not exclude that there might be other emo boys in the city, too, however, they are afraid to go out dressed like emo teenagers.

“I am not afraid, I dress like this all the time, and I do not want to change myself. However, when I walk in the street folks can insult me any time. They point at me, they say that I am a girl, or they ask whether I am a boy or if I am gay,” says Argam, who might be mistaken for a girl because he wears his hair long and also wears pink bracelets.

Emo teenagers say that there are about 20-25 emos in Yerevan, however only five of them are active in the theme. Argam says that it is because of the difficulty of being an emo in Armenia.

“The real emo must have a very expressive appearance and only a few would dare to dress emo style here,” says Argam. (Besides emos there are minority groups of goths, punks, Satanists and other youth movements in Yerevan)

[Unzipped: Gay Armenia - couple of month ago I posted a video on "Armenian satanists" on Unzipped]

[...] He works nightshift at a plastic bottle production shop at the Aparan waters plant. Argam says he got the job with great difficulty.

“I worked in a supermarket, and one day my boss came and told me to cut my hair the next day and only then come to work. And without saying anything I simply quit the job,” says Argam. [...]


The emos Argam and Nelly meet very often, they go for walks in downtown Yerevan, more often in the city’s area known as Cascade.

“When nobody understands you, you try to find someone who would entirely understand you. Now I am very happy that we have met,” says Argam.

*photo - Nazik Armenakyan / ArmeniaNow.com

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Cross-dressing Georgian pop star Anri Jokhadze lampoons 'Happy Nation' of Georgia

This is simply hilarious.



Via This is Tbilisi Calling:

“Is there a nation as happy as ours?”

Sometimes it takes a supreme pop satirist to sum up a twisted situation in a suitably surreal way. Now, the past two gruelling months of confrontation between opposition and government in Georgia have been encapsulated in a hilarious pop video by singer Anri Jokhadze.

Taking as its theme a phrase from nineteenth-century Georgian poet-hero Ilia Chavchavadze, the Happy Nation video lampoons President Mikheil Saakashvili, his opponents, and various other Georgian celebrities, as well as satirising well-known Georgian pop-propaganda videos.

Anyone who’s familiar with the drama that’s been playing itself out on the streets in Tbilisi in recent weeks should take time out to watch. The final frames – if you get the references – are truly tragic-comic.
***
There is more about Anri Jokhadze on Gay Caucasus (in Russian).