Thursday, 1 April 2010

Archive: Armenia native Armen Grigoryan attacked in Roanoke, Virginia

Looking at archive materials, I came across this extremely sad, chilling story of 2001. Back then, gay male sex was still a criminal offence in Armenia.

Article: Replay in Roanoke. (Armenia native Armen Grigoryan attacked in Roanoke, Virginia) (Brief Article)

Article from: The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian news magazine) 
Article date: September 11, 2001
Author: Scalan-Stefanakos, Victoria

When Armen Grigoryan fled his native Armenia in search of asylum in the United States, he thought he had left homophobia behind. That is, until August 1, when two men attacked him, his partner, and his church pastor as they left their church in Roanoke, Va.

The assault occurred little more than a week after drifter Ronald Gay was sentenced to four life terms for a shooting that killed one person and injured six others at the Backstreet Cafe, a Roanoke gay bar, last September. [See related story on page 46.]

Witnesses of the August I incident said the attackers began hitting Grigoryan and Richard Justus at about 8:30 P.M. "They kept yelling, `Fucking faggots, get out of our town,'" said the Rev. Catherine Houchins of the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge. One of the men also struck Houchins in the face when she called 911 on her mobile telephone. No one was seriously injured.

Earlier that day, Grigoryan, 28, and Justus, 36, met with an immigration officer in Washington, D.C., to discuss Grigoryan's upcoming hearing for asylum based on his sexual orientation. Grigoryan said that in his homeland even acknowledging homosexuality could land someone in jail. But he was optimistic that "in the United States I would be safe."

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