Monday, 26 April 2010

Georgia: scapegoating gays for internal politics. Interview with gay rights activist Paata Sabelashvili

All too familiar scapegoating gays for internal politics to distract citizens from real problems facing the country and from their [politicians & co] own bankruptcy .

*via Georgian International Media Centre

Scapegoating gay people for Georgia's crisis

Elections are meant to be the chance for the people to express their views without fear.

But elections can also be a time of heightened fear and threat: especially for those in a minority in a society in crisis, argues Paata Sabelashvili, president of the Inclusive Foundation – Georgia’s lesbian and gay rights campaign and the only open gay rights organisation in the Caucasus.

Homosexuality is legal in Georgia – but the rights of lesbians, gay men and transgendered people are under attack. Sabelashvili was personally targeted by the police recently, the Inclusive Foundation’s offices raided, staff and clients intimidated and insulted and the office damaged. Arrested on the scene, Sabelashvili says he was only released from prison after he agreed to a plea bargain which saw him admit to a marijuana possession charge.

He says that the drugs charge was a cover for an attack on the Inclusive Foundation that was designed to appease nationalist and conservative forces aligned with the Georgian Orthodox Church’s campaign against gay rights. With the government under pressure in the backwash of the Tea Tutberidze affair and a visible break down of relations with the Patriarch, it may well be that such actions help shore up the government’s support with more conservative voters.

But while the government seems to play both sides in this debate – President Saakashvili has recently been citing his government’s legalisation of homosexuality as a positive step forward, but only to audiences outside Georgia – others see “gay bashing” as a way of winning votes.

In parliament the Christian Democrats have called for homosexuality to be recriminalised (a move that would see Georgia expelled from the Council of Europe) and, as Sabelashvili recounts in the video here, have promoted a scare campaign about gay marriage. Others – such as Malkhaz Gulashvili, publisher of the Daily Georgian Times and founder of the People’s Orthodox Movement – are campaigning for the same outcome outside parliament.

At the root of much of this, argues Sabelashvili, is the population crisis in Georgia. Using arguments completely discredited in the west, anti-gay campaigners, either out of prejudice or ignorance, claim that homosexuality is like some infection that spreads through the population and so cuts the birth rate. For them it needs to be suppressed.

But, as Sabelashvili says here, the real factor that is cutting the birth rate is the poverty that drives so many young Georgians away from their homeland and leaves them vulnerable when abroad.

Bekhsoos: "A personal queer look at the Armenian Genocide"

A queer Arab magazine Bekhsoos posted a correspondence between two gay Armenian Lebanese women sharing their very personal outlook at the Armenian Genocide:

Dear Sarag,

When I first realized I was queer, it wasn’t anything shocking for me as I was always the minority of some other minority.

My first cause ever was the Armenian genocide and I held on to it like someone holds on to their dear life. The idea that another group wanted to erase something very essential in my being and eradicate it was enough for me to want to resist.

It’s not easy to know that someone wants you to no longer exist.

So when I look around now and I think of the homophobia and the people who want to eradicate us because for them we are a disease, it’s not something new. When I think of all the gendercide and how a lot of our societies break women and burry their existence in petty beliefs, it’s not something new.

I am a queer Armenian Lebanese woman; a half-breed to add to that and this is the essence of my survival. For 95 years our people have been screaming for justice and we will keep on shouting and screaming even when the dearest feminists shout back but who cars about this now? How is it relevant to our cause?

I want to tell you how relevant it is. It is relevant because it is my cause and I am a feminist and it’s a human cause.

It is relevant because its Darfur and Gaza, it is relevant because when we got here we were thrown in camps and orphanages and built our lives from rubbles, it is relevant because women were raped and killed and children sold, it is relevant because justice has not been restored. And you know, when justice is not restored the whole order of your world crumbles. You ask me why I still want them to utter words or recognition? Because I want to be in peace, I want to believe in the good order of the universe, I want to know that the good prevails that there is hope. This is why I fight as a feminist, this is why I fight as a queer, it is why I choose these battles where small victories fuel me with hope

and I think of bigger ones.

Imagine you had 5 more years, only five years to prove that you’ve been raped and beaten, your land stolen. You had five years and you show humanity proof and ask for justice to be made and you know that once those five years go by, humanity’s corrupt system will erase your trauma from its history and move on. You are silenced and mute and your rapist still wandering out there. What would you do? We have 5 more years and then it’s the centenary and after that according to international laws our cause is a lost one. Wonderful example to give to states like Israel, practicing apartheid.




Dear Shant,

You already know, I relate to everything said in your e-mail.

I have always been a part of a minority, ever since I was born.

As I discovered more and more about myself, I became a minority of a minority and it has always been a struggle.

A struggle mainly for my rights. For my rights as an Armenian living in Lebanon, as a Woman, and as a Queer.

A struggle for belonging.. I was born in Lebanon but let’s face it, do I really belong here? It doesn’t really feel like it since I have always been pointed out as The Armenian among the Lebanese. It doesn’t really feel like it since el 3arabeh taba3 el arman mkassar, since we have a different culture and different traditions.

The next question would be. Do I belong in Armenia? Here… This breaks my heart. I don’t even belong in Armenia, because I am only a tourist there. A tourist that doesn’t even speak the same language as the Armenians there.

I have heard so much about Armenians since I was in school by my teachers, my parents, and my grandmothers. I have heard so many stories about my own family, about my own grandfather and my great grandfather and grandmother.

What do I do with all that? Get over it? Let it go?

It’s impossible…

It has become a part of me. A part of my core being.

It is in the blood.

What I find messed up is how countries like The United States or the European union use the Genocide as some joker card against Turkey. They don’t care about the recognition, they hold on to that card so that they can have political stances and gains. The U.S. gets to have army bases and fly into Iraq from over Turkey and the E.U. uses it to stop Turkey from getting in its sphere. And our history relies on their twisted politics.

We fight every day for our rights as queers. We want justice, we want acknowledgement.

We get frustrated and irritated. We go insane when we hear about all the queers and transgendered people that have been murdered.

All this blood spilled… Who could really get over it? Who could really accept it in the first place?

Hate, denial of our existence and their desire to annihilate us…

It’s something none of us should shut up about.

The Armenian cause is so close to all the other causes we believe in and fight for.

You don’t have to necessarily be an Armenian to feel this… You just have to be human.

And there is a big difference between human and “human”.



Friday, 23 April 2010

Soho, London: pink St George's Day

23 April marks St George's Day, also England's National Day. I have first seen the pink-coloured St George's Cross - the flag of England - few years ago at the London Gay Pride, and since it proved popular among LGBT community to mark national holidays or important events with a touch of pink. You may see it on this picture too, which I took today in the heart of Soho, in front of the popular gay pub Comptons.

Picture of the Day

View from inside the tube train, London, 22 April 2010

Monday, 19 April 2010

Georgian gay rights activist challenges local journalist before Media Council

Well done, Paata!! Should be an example for others in the region, Even if we may have reasonable doubts re possible outcomes, good to see the system got challenged by local activist.

Queerty, citing The Georgian Times (below), posted a brief reflection of the case entitled "The Georgian Journalist Accused of Not Challenging a Guest's Homophobia". Interestingly, this US based popular gay website comments: "Imagine if the United States had similar journalism ethics provisions; CNN would be buried in paperwork."

*via The Georgian Times

Gay Lobbyist Sues Journalist at Media Council

Paata Sabelashvili, President of the Inclusive Foundation, has filed a complaint at the Media Council stating that Kavkasia TV journalist Aleko Elisashvili has encouraged homophobic behaviour. This will be the second case the Media Council has considered, but the first related to gay rights in a conservative-minded country.

Paata Sabelashvili sounded alarm bells on Facebook following the Barrier programme broadcast by Kavkazia on March 9. The programme focused on the visits of Georgian opposition figures to Moscow and featured as guests the Republican Party’s Tina Khidasheli, member of former PM Zurab Noghaideli’s party Petre Mamradze, the National Forum’s Gubaz Sanikidze and Malkhaz Gulashvili, owner of The Georgian Times Media Holding and Head of the Georgia-Russia Public Commission.

Malkhaz Gulashvili apparently went beyond just talking about Georgia-Russia relations during the debates. He touched on Church and state relations, criticised the Government for what he called its ‘pseudo-liberal’ values and said that that there is an "unruly propaganda for profanity, for instance homosexuals and lesbians” in Georgia.

Aleko Elisashvili, the host of the programme, interrupted Gulashvili and asked him to let them (homosexuals) alone, which induced giggles in the studio guests, and the discussion shifted back to politics. The debate weaved back to the issues of homosexuality and same sex marriage later but the anchor did not comment this time, giving other guests the opportunity to express opinions. This is where his fault lay, according to Sabelashvili.

Paata Sabelashvili says that by his inaction the journalist violated Article 7 of the journalist’s charter which states: “The journalist should understand the threat of the media encouraging discrimination. Therefore, he/she should do everything possible to avoid discrimination towards any persons on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political and other viewpoints, national or social origin or any other grounds.”

In a post he released on Facebook the next day Paata Sabelashvili vented his anger, stating that he would seek to hold Aleko Elisashvili accountable to the Media Ethics Council. “He [Aleko Elisashvili] violated this Article [7] when he did not only prevent Gulashvili and others giggling about homosexual citizens but even joined them in doing so,” he said. The complaint has been submitted and the Media Ethics Council is now requesting a written explanation from Aleko Elisashvili.

In a phone interview with GT Aleko Elisashvili said he is prepared to take responsibility for his work but the complaint is ill-argumented. Elisashvili does not think that he has violated the article as he allowed the guests to counter Gulashvili during the debates. "Gulashvili expressed his opinion, irrespective of whether I agree with it or not, and he has the right to do it as a citizen," he told us.

Elisashvili said that he trusts the Media Ethics Council and is ready to face its decision whatever it will be. Paata Sabelashvili did not respond to our email queries.

Malkhaz Gulashvili has become the target of criticism from so-called libertarian groups since he founded the Public Orthodox Movement on March 25 this year. This organisation, which the founders say counts 5,000 members, aims to advocate for the rights of Orthodox Christians, promote Christian values in society and preserve an authentic Georgian consciousness. Among other commitments, members of the movement have pledged that they will try to counter the propaganda of profanity and homosexuality and now allow gay parades to be conducted, among other things.

151 journalists have signed Charter of Journalism Ethics, a kind of self-regulatory mechanism for journalists. The Imedi fake invasion video was the first case which the Media Council discussed. It concluded that programme anchor Natia Koberidze had violated Article 1 of the Charter.

The Media Council has the right to discuss whether to judge the case in the first place and then determine, if so, whether a Charter Member journalist has violated its principles. There are no sanctions it can take.

“This is quite a difficult case and members of the council are now consulting foreign colleagues, in the German Media Council and a similar organisation in Holland. It will be some time until they are ready to hold the session,” Ia Antadze, the founder of the Media Council, told GT.

By Ketevan Khachidze

Manchester United: “Kiss of Life”

Don't you just love football?! ;)

*via Towleroad: "Manchester United captain Gary Neville planted a kiss on teammate Paul Scholes after Scholes scored the winning (and only) goal against Manchester City just 20 seconds before the end of the match-up."

And now this hilarious commentary and headlines via British press (via Queerty).

The Independent: Eternal Scholes gives United kiss of life
You could interpret in various ways the tender moment when Gary Neville wrapped his hands around the head of Paul Scholes and pursed his lips.
He was about to drive several coaches through the homophobic fortress of the Premier League. This was the take of the whimsical Kirsty Young, who told the Andrew Marr Show that it might have been a clip from Brokeback Mountain.
On the other hand Neville, who is of course not famous for striking the most agreeable notes, may have been emphasising a line of praise time-honoured among hard, macho but understating pros, the one that goes: "You'll do for me, son." [...]
The GuardianWhen men's lips meet. By kissing Paul Scholes, Gary Neville declared war on homophobia. And Francophobia, too

United in laugh and homophobia: Armenia “purest” police chief and media outlets

There were times when you could read here and there that “there are no gays in Armenia”. Well, those times have passed, and could be remembered with smile on our face. Now there is another trend: “there are no gays in this or that Department/Ministry/field...”

Couple of months ago, it was Armenian Army representative who made such ridiculous claims, which were instantly laughed at by Russian language gay websites. Today it’s Armenia police chief’s turn.

Watch this video (AM) towards the end. Pay attention how Armenia police chief and media representatives laughing together when discussing this whole ‘gay/police day’ thingy. They [media, and then police chief] created this fake ‘coincidence’ story, and won’t let it go away despite it being an utter lie and ignorance. Why would they? It’s just a chance to have a good laugh with “the purest” police chief. Apparently, that’s their definition of ‘having fun’.

Armenia police chief Alik Sargsyan statements are ridiculous, outrageous, and bigoted.

He says that Armenian police is “the purest”; there are only “real men” working in police; there never was, and God forbid, never will be anyone with “disorders of [sexual] orientation” there.
«Ոստիկանությունը ամենամաքուրն է եւ ամենազերծը նման բաներից. ոստիկանությունում իսկական տղամարդիկ են աշխատում ամեն ինչով, եւ կողմնորոշման որեւէ խախտում, Աստված չանի, երբեք չի նկատվել եւ չի նկատվի»,-ասաց Ալիկ Սարգսյան: (A1+)

This is a very clear display of homophobia, and human rights violation by Armenia police chief.

In any civilised country, such statements by police chief would lead to media and public outcry and calls for resignation, or at the very least - apology. In Armenia, this leads to a united laugh of media representatives and Armenia police chief.

There is popular saying in Russian, good for this occasion: “Смеётся тот, кто смеётся последним”

And here is the latest from our “purest” police where only “real men” work.

Armenian police: shoot to kill?

P.S. (UPDATE 20 April 2010: apparently, I was too quick to refer to a "positive change" in this radio station - see comments section below) I have to say, that during this whole ‘gay/police day’ saga, Radio Van was one of the very few media representatives which avoided copy/pasting wrong info from other outlets. They made a blog post with appropriate picture, video, and a brief audio interview with the head of PINK Armenia Mamikon Hovsepyan explaining the real meaning of the day. Ironically, this is the radio station which ‘inspired’ me to launch Homophobia Hall of Shame. As I mentioned back then, “The purpose [of the Hall of Shame] is to show that hate is wrong. Hate is not cool. Hate should NOT be profitable. And there are always ways out. You just have to want to get out and make efforts to change yourself for better, to free yourself of hate.”

Lately, I see positive changes in the radio station’s policy, and if this trend continues, I will take them out of the Hall of Shame after 17 May (International Day Against Homophobia).

For now, I updated the Hall of Shame by including Armenia police chief Alik Sargsyan.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Very different Ricky Martin - in nude and arty...

This is a video made back in 2007. Back then, few years ago, I wanted to post it on my blog, but it was almost instantly taken out from the all main video sharing websites, like YouTube etc. I have saved this as a draft so that one day, when it re-appears again, I'd post it. The day has come :) Couple of days ago, Ricky Martin tweeted a link to this video, which re-emerged after he came out. Many news outlets confused this as a new video, but it is not. It was made in 2007 for Ricky Martin's "Black and White Tour", directed by singer's friend Dago Gonzales.

I really liked this video. Hope you'll enjoy it too. I am posting this with the same title as I saved in draft in 2007.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

When 2 Armenians battle election in California, and there is homophobia involved, Armenian community loses

Glendale News Press reports that the election took place last Tuesday to fill a vacant seat for the 43rd Assembly District in California, which includes most of Glendale, Burbank and parts of Los Angeles. Title of the report says it all: “Armenian candidates split vote”.
[...] at the headquarters of Democrats Nayiri Nahabedian and Chahe Keuroghelian, the strategy was clearly different. Campaign workers were focused on targeting one of the region’s largest voting bases — Armenian Americans, who are estimated to comprise about 30% of registered voters in the district, according to campaign workers.

Campaign workers for Nahabedian and Keuroghelian were primarily reaching out to Armenian residents over the phone, encouraging prospective voters to go to the polls. [...]

Still, the two candidates of Armenian descent ended up at the bottom of the polls, with Nahabedian winning 22% of votes and Keuroghelian taking about 14%. Ramani and Gatto, who made few efforts to reach out specifically to Armenian voters, combined to earn nearly two-thirds of all votes cast.
Garen Yegparian shares more insight on what was going on behind the scene. Apparently, homophobia might have played the role too. Below are selected exrtacts, via Asbarez:

"As always, the campaign for California’s 43rd Assembly District seat produced its share of interesting stories, from the heartwarming and inspiring to the weird and lurid. [...]

I’ve saved strangest for last, and this is only a sampling.  During the course of the campaign, I heard, admittedly second-hand, that some TV commentators were accusing Nayiri of supporting bestiality.  I suppose in their “minds” this fits in with her “unforgiveable” support of gay rights.  But the best one of these is the claim that Nayiri would eliminate the words “mother” and “father”.  This lulu I heard first hand when a caller asked me about it during the call-in time of an Armenian TV show, on which I was that day’s guest.  Then, on Election Day, in speaking to a poll worker at the first polling place I went to (small problem of signage directing people to the entrance had to be solved) I learned that the same issue was raised at an SEIU (one of the unions supporting Nayiri) meeting.  An Armenian woman had announced that she wouldn’t vote for Nayiri because she’d eliminated “mother” and “father” from the textbooks!  So this wasn’t just some operative spreading the word.  People ACTUALLY BELIEVED this stuff, else they’d never repeat it.  It’s fascinating, how out of touch with reality some people can be.

Let’s all work towards a more unified and saner community approach to future elections."

The Day of Silence - Glendale - Armenian Diaspora

*via Glendale News Press

Support in silence

                        (Raul Roa/News-Press)

Glendale High students spend lunch period protesting hate.

By Max Zimbert
Published: Last Updated Friday, April 16, 2010 10:09 PM PDT
About two dozen Glendale High School students and teachers were taking their seats Friday to protest prejudice and harassment of all types, when a student a few yards away repeatedly yelled a derogatory term for homosexuals.

The incident occurred as students handed out small notices that said they muted themselves to represent the unheard victims of discrimination and name-calling as part of the national Day of Silence. Participating students kept silent all day and wrote their responses to questions.

“It’s more of a shock that he said it out loud,” wrote Vahe Gabri, a senior. “You will hear it, but as a whisper when they pass you or when no one is around.”

Punishment for harassment or discrimination is typically a suspension, administrators said.

“It’s 2010, but you still hear, see and witness acts of discrimination toward a group,” Principal Deb Rinder said. “Any time there’s something new or different or whatever, it requires dialogue and education, because in my opinion, knowledge is power.”

Many of the participating students were members of the Gay-Straight Alliance, a student club that they say is a safe place.

“I love it,” sophomore Isaac Espinosa wrote. “You make new friends, family and new adventures.”

Gay-straight alliances are controversial at Glendale Unified’s high schools. In 2008, parents spoke against the clubs at a school board meeting, saying administrators had no right to let the clubs exist. But those arguments failed to get traction with district officials who said students had the 1st Amendment right to organize.

Students sat silently in a circle Friday in the middle of the school quad. Some held hands and embraced, while others wrote and passed notes.

“We are here to, in short, battle all hate,” wrote Kit Romire, a senior and club president. “This year, homophobia really hit.”

Christa Bretz, the faculty advisor to the school club, sent out notices Wednesday, informing the campus community of the day and its intent. She did so deliberately, she said, to avoid counter protests.

“It gives less time for conflict and controversy, but less time for people to become aware of it and participate in it,” she said.

Freshmen Savanna Asadoorian and Sose Abraamyan said Glendale High students are tolerant, and the school is a safe place to learn. Harassment or name calling stems from ignorance, Savanna said.

“It’s not intentionally to hurt anyone,” she said.

But students got the alliance’s message, Sose said. And teacher participation would foster conversations about respect and tolerance, said David Spiegel, a teacher.

“Kids ask, ‘Why were you there?’” he said. “There’ll be a lot of discussions next period . . . and I think that’s where a lot of growth happens.”

The Day of Silence - Picture of the Day - Armenia

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event in USA that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

*Source: PINK Armenia

Thursday, 15 April 2010

How Armenia police chief gets fooled by yellow journalism

[Read also: Marking Police Day in Armenia the way only Unzipped can do]

Everything started with Chorrord Ishkhanutyun which as if ‘by the way’, in a brief note about Police Day, marked in Armenia on 16 April, intentionally mentions (= lies) that same day in different countries ‘gays celebrate their day’.
Չգիտես ինչու, այդ լուսավոր տոնը թողած, նույն օրը աշխարհի տարբեր երկրներ նշում են համասեռամոլների օրը: Բայց դա արդեն Հայաստանի հետ կապ չունի: (CHI, 31 March 2010)
Then many representatives of Armenian media (example), without a simple google checking the facts - nothing surprising here - re-posting this ‘juicy coincidence’ and questioning Armenia police chief about it.

And Mr Alik Sargsyan, head of Armenia police, instead of checking facts (a very simple task in this case, believe me), formally asks Armenian president to change the Police Day date from next year.
Ապրիլի 16-ը ՀՀ ոստիկանության օրն է, և այդ տոնին ընդառաջ այսօր ոստիկանապետ Ալիկ Սարգսյանը «Ուրբաթ» ակումբում պատասխանում էր լրագրողների հարցերին: «Իսկ ո՞ւմ նախաձեռնությամբ է ոստիկանության օրը նշվում հենց ապրիլի 16-ին, երբ նույն օրը աշխարհի տարբեր երկրներում նշում են համասեռամոլների օրը»,- հարցրին ոստիկանապետին:
«Չեմ ուզում թաքցնել` ես դիմել եմ երկրի նախագահին, խնդրել, որպեսզի այդ օրը փոխենք: Չգիտեմ` որքանով է ճիշտ այդ վարկածը` ինչ-որ այլ կողմնորոշմամբ մարտկանց տոնի հետ կապված, ամեն դեպքում, փորձելու եմ ամեն ինչ անել, գրեթե խոստանում եմ (որովհետև իմ որոշումից չի կախված), որ եկող տարի մենք ոստիկանության տոնը կնշենք այլ օր: Միգուցե դա կլինի ապրիլի 19-ին, որն Առաջին Հանրապետության ոստիկանության օրն է: Ամեն դեպքում, ես առաջարկը ներկայացնելու եմ երկրի ղեկավարին, որը կլինի նաև մեր ոստիկանների սրտով. բոլորն ինձ այդ մասին դիմում և խնդրում են»,- ասաց Ալիկ Սարգսյանը:
Վերջինս նշեց, որ տոնի օրը որևէ մեկի նախաձեռնությամբ չի ընտրվել, պարզապես այդ օրը`ապրիլի 16-ին, Ազգային ժողովն ընդունել է համապատասխան որոշումը:

Truly, a tragicomedy in making.

Even if the reports were true (which they are not), so what? Is this an evidence of institutional homophobia both in Armenian media and police?

You, ignorant representatives of Armenian media - not all, but many - there is no such thing as ‘Gay Day celebrated internationally on 16 April’. Instead of engaging in yellow journalism, take a time, just a few seconds of your ‘precious’ time, make very simple google search, and you will find out that on 16 April, mainly in the USA, human rights activists mark school-based LGBT related anti-bullying Day of Silence.

Why I am even asking... Of course, you do not care of facts. Sensationalism, intrigues, dirty tricks... that’s what matters to you.

And you, Mr Alik Sargsyan, head of police. Instead of feeling uncomfortable and somehow disrespectful to gays, you should instead state clearly, once and for all, that it’s your obligation to protect all Armenian citizens, including LGBT citizens. Your constitutional obligation. Instead, you got fooled by yellow journalism in Armenia.

Here is a link especially for Armenian media representatives and Armenia police chief: Day of Silence. Read it. Educate yourself about the meaning of the day.
The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year the event has grown, and now hundreds of thousands of students participate to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Not funny, isn’t it?

P.S. not to mention the use of unacceptable and discriminatory word ”hamaseramol” to refer to gays in Armenian, including by Hetq Online. Shame really. By the way, there is good comment left by a reader of Hetq Online here.

*picture - via A1+

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Aravot daily's detailed reflection of (AM)

ԵՎԱ ՀԱԿՈԲՅԱՆ... Հիշում ե՞ք իրան (Archive 2009 - 'Shocking revelation’ by Aravot daily: there are lesbians at, and they are Armenian)

WOW. Ինչ մանրամասն ուսումնասիրել ա կայքը :)))

Ի դեպ, պարզվում է Եվան բլոգ էլ ունի, որտեղ տեղադրում է Առավոտ-ում տպագրված իր նյութերը: Այս հոդվածը իր բլոգում ուղեկցվում է մի քանի հետաքրքիր նկարներով ;)


Հին ընկերները չե՞ն դավաճանում

Բարի, մի քիչ ամաչկոտ, ինտելեկտուալ, հայրենասեր, օրինապահ եւ չափազանց առաջադեմ... այսպիսին ենի «բնակիչները»: Կայք, որտեղ «ամոթ է», «հարիր չէ», «չի կարելի» արտահայտությունները գոյություն չունեն, իսկ նույն սեռակցին սիրելու համար թույլատրելիության սահմանը մինուս անվերջությունից պլյուս անվերջություն է: Այստեղ չեն ոտնահարվում միասեռականների՝ գեյերի իրավունքները եւ, ամենից կարեւորը՝ ամեն մեկն այստեղ ազատ մուտք չի կարող գործել:ում հայտնվելու համար նախ եւ առաջ պետք է «մուտքի արտոնագիր» ձեռք բերել, ինչն էլ հնարավոր է ստանալ «դեսպանատան»՝ ադմինիստրացիայի առաջարկած հարցերին պատասխանելուց եւ «OK»-ը ստանալուց հետո: Կայքը կարծես «ազատ տարածք է» բոլոր այն սկսնակ եւ «ստաժավոր» գեյերի համար, ովքեր ցանկանում են սիրահարվել, գտնել մշտական զուգընկեր, մեկ կամ մի քանի անգամ սեքսով զբաղվել, գտնել հին ընկերներին եւ, վերջապես, պարզապես անկաշկանդ շփվել: Տղաներն այստեղ այնքան ազատ են եւ ապահով ամեն տեսակ քարկոծումներից, որ անկաշկանդ ի ցույց են դնում իրենց անկեղծ լուսանկարները, մարմնի բոլոր «բարեմասնությունները»: Կայքում գեյեր են, այո՛, բայց դա դեռ չի նշանակում, որ նրանք սեռակցի հետ սիրաբանելուց բացի՝ ուրիշ ոչնչով չեն հետաքրքրվում: Այստեղ «երջանիկ զույգերն» իրար գտնում են՝ անպայման հաշվի առնելով միմյանց նախասիրություններն ու հետաքրքրությունները, իսկ դրանք շատ են ու բավականին հետաքրքիր: Կայքի տղաների մեծամասնությունը հետաքրքրված է արվեստով: Ոմանք զբաղվում ու տարված են երաժշտությամբ, գրականությամբ, ոմանք՝ նկարչությամբ ու քանդակագործութամբ, իսկ ոմանք էլ պարզապես սիրում են այդ ամենը ու հաճախ այցելում, օրինակ, Artbridge սրճարան, The Club, Չարենցի, Փարաջանովի, Երեւանի պատմության թանգարաններ, նրանք սիրում են նաեւ զբոսնել Կասկադում, Երեւանի Անգլիական այգում եւ այլուր:

Գերազանց կարելի է գնահատել նաեւ կայքի ադմինիստրացիայի աշխատանքը, վերջիններս շատ հետեւողական են ու պարտաճանաչ անդրադառնում են ցանկացած միջոցառման, տոնի: Ինչպես այլ կայքերի, այնպես էլի Discussion Forum-ում տարբեր եւ բավականին հետաքրքրաշարժ թեմաներ են քննարկվում՝ զուգընկերոջ հավատարմությունից՝ մինչեւ հայ-թուրքական հարաբերություններ:

Օրինակ, Հակոբը, որը, իր խոսքերով, սիրում է արվեստ, գրականություն եւ, իհարկե, սեքս՝ հետեւյալ հարցն էր բարձրացրել. արդյոք, հնարավո՞ր է հավատարմություն գեյ զույգերի միջեւ: «Երբ ընկերներիս հետ զրուցում ենք՝ ես պատմում եմ իմ արկածներից, նրանք զարմանում են, թե ինչպես կարող եմ անհավատարիմ լինել իմ ընկերոջը, չէ՞ որ իրենք շատ հավատարիմ են իրենց «ամուսիններին». ասում եմ՝ նայեք այս մատուցողին, ինչ սիրուն մարմին ունի, առնական մուսկուլներ, չէի՞ք երազի նրան փաղաքշել, հետը պառկել, ասում են՝ հա, ինչու չէ. ասում եմ՝ հիմա բռնվեցիք, բա ասում եք հավատարիմ եք... բայց պոռնո նայում եք, լավ տիպ տեսնելուց ախ եք քաշում, ձեր միջի միակ անհավատարիմն էլ ես եմ, հա՞, պարզապես ես կեղծավորություն չեմ անում, ում հետ պառկել եմ՝ ձեզ պատմում եմ, իսկ դուք միշտ ասում եք, թե հավատարիմ եք... Ես չեմ հավատում գեյ զույգերի հավատարմությանը, այո, սեր կա, բայց սեր, ֆանտազիա, հաճույք՝ դրանք տարբեր բաներ են: Դու կարող ես սիրել քո ընկերոջը հոգով, սրտով, բայց եթե մի գեղեցիկ տղամարդու հետ էլ պառկես՝ դա չի նշանակում, որ դադարում ես ընկերոջդ սիրել...»,- անկեղծանում է հարցը բարձրացրած գեյը:

«Տղամարդու մեջ ամենասկզբից դրված է, որ ինքը պետք է մի քանի կին կամ տվյալ պարագայում տղամարդ ունենա միաժամանակ: Դա բնազդ է, որը հնարավոր չէ փոխել: Վառ օրինակ՝ ես դավաճանում եմ իմ ընկերոջը, սակայն նրան ասում եմ, երբ եւ ում հետ, իսկ նա ասում է, թե չի դավաճանում, բայց ես լավ էլ գիտեմ երբ, որտեղ եւ ում հետ է ինձ դավաճանում»,- ի պատասխան Հակոբի՝ ասում է Սամը:

Discussion Forum-ում տղաներից մեկն էլ հարցնում էր՝ ո՞ւր եք դուք, Սովետական Հայաստանի գեյեր...

Նրա ձեւակերպմամբ՝ «ի տարբերություն եվրոպական երկրների, արեւելյան երկրներում շատ բաներ գոյություն ունեն, որոնց մասին չեն խոսվում, որովհետեւ ընդունված չէ: Օրինակ, գեյ կյանքը բոլոր երկրներում էլ կա, Հայաստանը բացառություն չէ, բայց քիչ է խոսվում: Սովետի ժամանակ հավաքվում էինք Երեւանի Կոմայգում, ասում, խոսում, ծիծաղում, հետո գնում էինք տղամարդ որսալու: Չնայած օրենքով արգելված էր, բայց... Չեմ հիշում որեւէ մեկին մեր գեյերից, որ նստած լիներ. ասում էին՝ եթե մեկը մի բան ասի՝ դիմեք «Հոռոմ մայրիկին», ամբողջ ԿԳԲ-ի տերը կթաղի: Եվ այդպես էլ լինում էր: Ղարաբաղի դեպքերը սկսվեցին, բոլորս հեռացանք տարբեր երկրներ ու կորցրինք միմյանց: Մի տեսակ նոստալգիա ունեմ: Դեռ սովետի տարիներն էին, Կոմայգում ծանոթացա մեկի հետ, հիմա արդեն ծեր կլինի, բայց եթե կարդա՝ կիմանա, որ իր մասին եմ ասում, ես 20 տարեկան էի, նա՝ 40-ն անց: Նոր էր ամերիկյան շրջագայությունից վերադարձել (բնակարանից երեւում էր, որ հասարակ բանվոր չի): Երբ նա պատմում էր այնտեղի գեյ կյանքի մասին, զարմացա, ասացի՝ չհասկացա, հիմա այստե՞ղ է լավ, թե՞ այնտեղ, ասաց՝ այստեղ, հարցրի՝ ինչո՞ւ, էս թաքնված ու վտանգավոր հաճույքները քեզ դո՞ւր են գալիս, ասաց՝ այո, գերադասում եմ այստեղ եւ այսպես, որովհետեւ սա ուրիշ ադրենալին է, զզվել եմ այնտեղի սանձարձակություններից...»:

Կայքում կարելի է ծանոթանալ ամենաթարմ նորություններին եւ լուսանկարներին. օրինակ՝ Սուրբ Զատկի տոնի, Արամեի՝ մոսկովյան գեյ-ակումբներից մեկում կայացած ու հաջողված մենահամերգի մասին պատմող նյութերին, եւ մինչեւ անգամ «02» հաղորդաշարին բնորոշ՝ համակուրսեցիների կողմից ծեծված ուսանողի՝ հիվանդանոց տեղափոխվելու մասին լուրերի: Աննկարագրելի հետաքրքիր զրուցակիցներ են ոչ միայն երեւանցի, այլեւ սփյուռքահայ գեյերը: Պարզվում է՝ նրանք նաեւ ահավոր աստվածավախ են եւ, իրենց խոսքերով, ամեն վատ արարք կատարելիս անպայման ներողություն են խնդրում Աստծուց:

Ուշադրության էր արժանի նաեւ Սուրբ Զատկի հետ կապված մի գեյի ասած անկեղծ խոսքերը: Նա շնորհավորում էր հատկապես նախագահի, վարչապետի, բանակի քաջարի մարտիկների, կաթողիկոսի, հավատացյալների ու նույնիսկ անհավատների Սուրբ Զատիկը՝ «Սրտանց մաղթում եմ բոլորիս, Զատիկի խորհրդով զատենք մեր միջի մարդկայինը-կենդանականը եւ աստվածայինը, եւ թող հարություն առնի աստվածայինը, ապրենք իրար հետ, իրար համար, վասն հայության... Աստված սիրում է իր բոլոր զավակներին, լինես դու հոմո, լեսբի, թե հետերո՝ բոլորս էլ Աստծո զավակներն ենք, եւ Աստված սիրում է բոլորիս իր հայրական ներողամիտ սիրով: Աստված ավելի է սիրում իր այն զավակներին, որոնք զոհ են գնում ատելությանը, հոմոֆոբիային, անհանդուրժողականությանը...»:

Ինչպես բոլոր միասեռականները, այնպես էլ այս կայքի Blogs բաժնում «տեղացիներից» մեկը փաստում է, որ համասեռականությունը հիվանդություն չէ: Նա հավելում է, որ 1952 թվին, երբ Ամերիկյան հոգեբուժական ասոցիացիան հրատարակեց իր առաջին Մտավոր խանգարումների դիագնոստիկ եւ ստատիստիկ ձեռնարկը (ԴՍՁ), համասեռականությունը ներառված էր որպես խանգարում: Բայց հետազոտությունները եւ հետագա ուսումնասիրությունները ի վիճակի չեղան հիմնավորել համասեռականության՝ գիտականորեն կամ էմպիրիկորեն որպես խանգարում կամ աննորմալություն համարվելը: Երբ նման ուսումնասիրությունների արդյունքները կուտակվեցին, բժշկության, մտավոր առողջության, վարքագծային եւ հասարակական գիտությունների մասնագետները հասան այն եզրակացությանը, որ թյուր էր համասեռականությունը որպես մտավոր խախտում դասակարգելը, եւ որ ԴՍՁ դասակարգումն արտացոլում էր չստուգված ենթադրություններ ( /profiles/blogs/2851430:BlogPost:25621):

Շփման ընթացքում մի ֆրանսահայ գեյ, որը Հայաստանից հեռացել էր հարազատների, ընկերների սպառնալիքներից դրդված՝ ասաց, որ ինչպես Բալզակն էր ասում, մեկ է՝ որքան երկարատեւ է դիմադրությունը, այնքան հզոր է սիրո ձայնը. «Մի օր հայերը ստիպված կլինեն հասկանալ, որ գեյ լինել չի նշանակում հիվանդ լինել եւ ինչպես ցանկացած աղջիկ, այնպես էլ ես իրավունք ունեմ ամուսնանալ իմ սիրած տղայի հետ»:


Friday, 9 April 2010

Montaging the Self: Call for submissions (arts project using photography)

Interesting arts project by a member of Queering Yerevan group. Would be good to see photo submissions from Armenia and Diaspora too (like some, below).

Call for Submissions

Montaging the Self is a collaborative arts project using photography as the primary medium. This project is based solely on submissions of those who are interested in joining the project, whether stumbled upon or by word of mouth. Each photograph will have a picture of one, or two people in one instance, with tape across their mouth with one or more adjectives written on the tape. The adjectives are used to show how each person has “montaged” themselves for the better or worse, as they have grown as an individual. Please note that not all words will be in English, as the project encourages people to use the language most comfortably used.

The projected audience is GLBTQA people. GLBTQA people are often altering themselves physically, emotionally, or mentally, due to the effects of family, friends, society and the media. By taping the mouth there is some feel of censorship. This is done purposefully because many GLBTQA people have had to censor some part of their life.

I am currently working on the website, but need submissions NOW! If you are interested, I'd love to hear from you.

Please, join the project and spread the word to anyone you think would like to participate.

Send all photos and/or questions to:

Become a fan on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Kim Kardashian says: “I give a damn”, and talks of her Armenian roots

Kim Kardashian issued this statement (below) on a personal blog about her support and participation in Give a Damn Campaign. This campaign is particularly directed at straight people, to get informed, get involved and give a damn about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. (for her & co previous similar actions - see here)

"I am taking part in the 'Give a Damn Campaign,' a campaign launched by Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund that aims to educate and engage the straight community to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality!!

I have many close friends who are homosexual and they encounter discrimination and hatred every day! I think sometimes as straight people we take equality for granted because we don't come up against the same barriers many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people do. I want to ask you all to give a damn. Give a damn that people around you are being victimized simply for being who they are. Give a damn that young adults are ending their lives because of the bullying they are subjected to. All you have to do is give a damn.

Please follow the Give a Damn Campaign on Twitter, friend them on Facebook and check out their YouTube channel."

Kim has also found time to talk extensively about her Armenian heritage, reports British Daily Mail:

“The 29-year-old's father Robert Kardashian's side of the family were Armenian and, despite being raised in LA, she says she's proud of her roots.

Talking about her family history, she said to Armenian Pulse: "I am fourth-generation Armenian, born and raised in Los Angeles. My great-grandparents from my father's side came to LA from Armenia right before the genocide.

'My great-grandfather was Armenian and my great-grandmother, Turkish-Armenian. 

'My mother is English, so I am half-Armenian, but I was raised with a huge Armenian influence, always hearing stories of Armenia, eating Armenian food and celebrating Armenian holidays!'

Kardashian, who recently split from on/off boyfriend, American football player Reggie Bush, was told that she has a big fan base in Armenia and is very popular there.

She said: 'This makes me so happy! My father would be so proud that we talk about our Armenian heritage! My dad used to always tell us to never remove the '-ian' from our last name like some Armenians that came to the US.

'He was so proud to be Armenian and his biggest regret was not sending us to Armenian school! I am so proud to be Armenian and so happy that I can identify with my Armenian fans!'

*picture - via Daily Mail

Re Armenian macho, umm... sorry, ‘metrosexual’ (!), men

Statistics of the Day: 70% of all Sergei Zverev Beauty Salon clients in Yerevan are men, as per director Marina Arakelyan.

"Men are paying more attention to themselves. As sad as this may sound, but men pay greater attention to their appearance, take care of their hands", she said.
«Мужчины больше уделяют себе внимание. Как бы это ни прискорбно прозвучало, но мужчины с большим вниманием следят за своей внешностью, ухаживают за руками», -пояснила она.
According to the director, this is due to self-sufficiency of men: "Our experience shows that men are more self-sufficient. They do make a living, handle money. In fact, not every woman in Armenia works; they are financially dependent on men.”
По мнению директора, это обусловлено самодостаточностью мужчин.
«Прозвучит это приятно или нет, но практика показывает, что мужчины более самодостаточны. Они сами зарабатывают на жизнь, могут распоряжаться деньгами. По сути, не каждая женщина в Армении работает, она финансово зависима от мужчины. Выдаст муж ей средства или нет, куда пойдет и где потратит - для нее это дилемма», - сказала Аракелян.

*picture - Yerevan, Armenia, winter 2008

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday at a lesbian bar in London

Last night with a good friend of mine (gay Armenian woman) we went to a well known lesbian bar in London - Candy Bar, Easter-themed decorated for the occasion. More of a retro style venue, but a cool one. We had pretty good time there. Happy Easter!! :)

Armenia: feet-washing ritual

Happy Easter!! ;)

*Catholicos Karekin II washes the feet of a faithful

*A faithful kissing the hand of Catholicos Karekin II

*source of pictures: © PanARMENIAN Photo / Davit Hakobyan

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."

All 47 Council of Europe countries, including Armenia, unanimously agreed on historic human rights recommendations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

There is a motto on a Council of Europe website: 47 countries, one Europe. If only these recommendations turn into actions and get implemented locally in all 47 countries, this would be a big step towards such a goal. Agree with the ILGA-Europe that the Recommendations should serve as a very useful tool to advance LGBT rights forward.

My further reflections: Armenia: ‘A+’ for signatures, ‘Fail’ for practice

Europe’s main gay rights group ILGA-Europe reports:

Today the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, representing the national governments of its 47 Member States, unanimously adopted historic Recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the world’s first intergovernmental agreement codifying the application of human rights standards to LGBT people.

The Recommendations establish how international human rights standards should be applied to LGBT people and contain specific measures for Member States on how they should improve their legislation, policies and practices to address discrimination against LGBT people in such areas as

- hate crime and hate speech;
- freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly;
- right to respect for private and family life;
- employment;
- education;
- health;
- housing;
- sports;
- right to seek asylum.

Additionally, the Recommendations prescribe that Member States should ensure that national human rights structures are clearly mandated to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. They also encourage Member States to address multiple discrimination experienced by LGBT people.

ILGA-Europe’s only regret is that the Member States did not go as far as we hoped for in some areas, particularly family rights.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:
“This is a truly historical development! For the first time in history the European continent came together to codify human rights’ applications to LGBT people. As we celebrate this landmark in European human rights history, we also hope that these Recommendations will help to advance the human rights for LGBT people beyond Europe. ”

Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, added:
“These Recommendations go well beyond the current situation in many European countries for LGBT people and will surely serve as a blueprint for our members in working with their national governments. We will also follow closely the three year review mechanism agreed by the Committee of Ministers to ensure the full implementation. Finally, we encourage the Council of Europe to organise a campaign among its Member States to promote these Recommendations.”

The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe's decision-making body. It comprises the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the Member States, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.

The full text of the Recommendations is available on the Committee of Minister’s website.