Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Letters @ Unzipped: Experience at Yerevan cafe

[...] There's some really interesting things happening in Yerevan in terms of gay and lesbian culture, issues, and rights. Your blog has been a HUGE help for me in understanding things. I am in Yerevan for the first time and I felt totally lost, but your thoughts give me a pretty good navigation of things. 

Also, in terms of the "there are no gays in Yerevan" discourse, I had a really interesting experience at a cafe one morning. I have tattoos all over my body and the waiter came up to me and started to ask me about them. I said that I try to hide them as much as I can (which is hard because it's so hot here!) and he said that people here have them too but they hide them. They hide a lot of things. Then he leaned in really close and said "There's a lot of gays in Armenia but they keep it secret." I have been stuck on the affect of this moment for a couple of weeks now. I keep thinking about it. Why did he tell me this? Did he read me as queer and so decided I was a safe person to talk to about it? Was it his way of coming out to me? Was he just picking up on my sexuality and wanted to let me know that there were people like me here? I'm still rather confused. I talked to my father about it, who lived in Yerevan years ago, and he says that if I look different, my tattoos, piercings, etc., then I most likely also gay. But I don't buy into that. 

I don't know what it was about that moment but I cannot get past it. Any thoughts? [...]



scwolf-10k said...

He's lucky he was only suspected to be gay. When I first got my tattoos in Yerevan (about 7 or 8 years ago), I was walking in the city, and an old man (like.. VERY old.. as they say: pches-yeresin-kmerni-old) stopped me and asked me which jail was I in. And when I gave him a surprised look, he pointed at my chest, where my tattoo was visible and said "Your tattoo. You must've got it in jail, right?"

I wish that old man had made a hint about my sexual orientation instead of thinking I'm an ex-convict. At least I wouldn't have lived in the dark all those years.

artmika said...

Actually, it's a letter by female Armenian reader of my blog :)

Your tattoo story was hilarious :) These are remnants of Soviet mentality when tattoo = prison. Luckily, things are changing, especially among younger generation. Not a "revolution in the minds" yet, but some progress for sure.

Anonymous said...

yay your comment is showing now :) and I don't see a link to reply directly to your comment, so I'm guessing this will be replied to the original post? not that it matters though, as long as the comments not showing issue has been solved (hopefully?)

Actually, it's a letter by female Armenian reader of my blog :)
oops, my bad :) then let's pretend I replaced he with she in my previous comment? :D sorry female Armenian reader!

Your tattoo story was hilarious :)...
Oh it got even better through the years. One time one of the neighbors asked my mom if I was doing well or not, and when my mom asked her why, she told her "it seems your daughter is engaged with some suspicious lifestyle? You know, she's got tattoos and all."
I'm glad that the younger generation is becoming a bit more open-minded.. well, at least some of them are. One step at a time, I guess :)

artmika said...

Haha! Don't you just love this 'neighbourhood watch' :))) Our very own CCTVs.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd get rid of it here in the Netherlands, but nooo, it exists here as well. And not just among the Amrnians x)