Friday 29 February 2008

AGLA NY started blogging

In a welcome move and in line with previously announced expansion of organisational activities, Armenian Gay & Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY) launched its blog, with the focus on life of LGBT Armenians in NY, US, as well as organisational news.

Here are some headlines from recent posts.

“Member spotlight” presents NY fashion designer Loris Diran and metalware designer Michael Aram

Nancy Agabian reports on a lecture by Vigen Guroian, Prof. of Theology at Loyola College (MD), entitled, “Homosexuality & Same-Sex Union” at the Armenian Prelacy (16 November 2007). “The main point of Professor Guroian’s talk was that same sex union goes against one of the Armenian Apostolic church’s sacraments, that of a marriage between a man and a woman, as stated in the bible.” However, as Nancy concluded, “The event wasn’t openly hostile towards gays and lesbians; rather, people seemed interested to listen and talk to teach other about the issue. This represents real progress, especially for those who remember when the word gay wouldn’t have even been understood within an Armenian religious context. Our queer Armenian voices were heard in connection with the church, and on the issue of gay marriage, which affects many of us.”

There is also announcement on a special Gartal event in NY on 17 February 2008 which featured reading of the new book (An)daratsutian Mej or In the (Un)space (Women’s Resource Center, Yerevan, 2007) in English, French and Armenian with authors Nancy Agabian, Lara Aharonian and Shushan Avagyan. “In writing about such topics as the domestic violence of upstairs neighbors, an absurd gynecological visit, and furtive reading in a grandmother’s library, the tri-authors create the “(un)space”, where each Armenian woman must interpret herself and translate others in order to find a place to more fully exist.” Hrag Vartanian has more details.

I will keep an eye on AGLA NY blog and will update here on new developments from NY LGBT Armenian community. You may access their blog at

Friday 22 February 2008

Defenders of democracy in Armenia

I thought I would never see it again. It’s like 20 years ago, the same atmosphere in Yerevan. Despite all differences, in this crucial time for the future of Armenian democracy people seem united, they refuse to be intimidated by authorities. They share food, tea, they dance, they spend night in Liberty sq, they feel togetherness, exactly like it was 20 years ago.

I am proud of you, guys. I am proud of my parents. I am proud of my dad who after hearing in the morning that police announced “rally is not sanctioned by authorities” and “there may be unforeseen consequences”, instead of being intimidated, immediately went out of the flat and joined the crowd. Like thousands of you. You did not get intimidated, instead – you danced, tens of thousands of you. I am writing these words, and feel very emotional now. I feel proud of being associated with you.

You are great, people!

P.S. And it is so encouraging to see so many young people around. (photo via Hetq)

The Winners - Liberty sq, Yerevan, Armenia

I am with you, guys!

*see also Unzipped (video via A1+)

Sunday 17 February 2008

To Winners

Whatever happens during election day, you people – tens of thousands in Liberty sq in Yerevan, thousands in Armenian regions - are Winners for me. Today you sent the very clear message that you want and demand changes, that you are, after all, not indifferent to your future and future of Armenia... that after years of oppressing your real dreams, after years of apathy, you are sick of this hibernating state.

For more - see Unzipped

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Armenian LGBT NGO to launch new Community Centre in Yerevan

*source: WFCE January newsletter


From 1st January 2008 “We For Civil Equality” NGO moved to the new office just in the heart of Yerevan City, 3 minutes from Republic Square. This not only staff administrative office but also Community Centre named LGBTIQ Informational and Counseling Center (ICC).

The main aim of the community centre is providing a safe and alternative place for LGBT communities to develop a feeling of unity within the different sub-communities. The resource centre includes informational, educational and entertainment material for LGBT.

The new office and LGBTIQ ICC will be officially presented on 14th February 2008. We intend to start with:

- Round table on HIV/AIDS and LGBTIQ Issues in Armenia. Several topics will be discussed:
• HIV/AIDS situation in Armenia
• At-risk population, vulnerable groups
• LGBTIQ as High Risk Group
• Prevention in Human Rights Context
• Access to health care and services
• Psychological counseling
• Educational programs
• Policy approach
• Civil society
• “We For Civil Equality” NGO mission, vision, activities.

- Lesbian artist exhibition opening
- Official Welcome Ceremony in ICC
- “We For Civil Equality” NGO and PRECIS Project Presentation

we intend to invite mass media and partner organizations to the official part and continue with a strictly community-only celebration later on at the Safer Sex Promotion Party.

Armenia participated in ILGA-Asia regional conference

Although a member of European Region of International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), for the first time, Armenia participated in the 3rd ILGA-Asia Regional conference held in Chiang Mai, Thailand - 24 - 27 January 2008.

Acoording to "We For Civil Equality" (WFCE) Armenian LGBT NGO January newsletter, its head participated in this conference of about 160 lesbian, gay and human rights activists from both Asian and non-Asian countries.

"The conference was hosted by the Committee on Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB) and M-Plus, a local gay group which runs a drop-in centre. Armenia was chairing plenary on transgender issues in Asia. A workshop was done on transgender issues and by Armenia’s initiative it was decided that Pan-Asian Transgenders Association will be established. The role of "We For Civil Equality" will be some kind of bridge between Europe and Asia."

"A street parade was held in the city for the first time as over 200 conference attendees, observers and members of the local LGBT community marched from the Buddhist Centre (Puttastan) to Pantip Plaza on Saturday night."

I certainly welcome this participation which indicates an increasing involvement of Armenian LGBT activists in various regional projects and collaborations.

Just one 'technical' remark: WFCE January newsletter states in relation to this news that "Geographically and politically Armenia is a part of Europe but culturally and morality is a part of Asia." While I would not go into debate as to which continent Armenia belongs to "geographically, politically or culturally", it seems everlasting and opinions differ, I find it bizarre the part about "morality". I personally would go for "politically and culturally - Europe", and geographically - Wikipedia description of Armenia as "transcontinental nation". As to "morality", that notion is the vaguest to define, and one could argue that "morality"-wise Armenia is closer to Greece or Balkan countries etc. In any case, I'd rather not mention "morality" at all.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

History in making: Opposition unites behind Levon Ter-Petrosyan ahead of presidential elections in Armenia

In what could be considered the most significant development ahead of presidential elections in Armenia, one of the main and arguably most respected opposition party led by former foreign minister Raffi Hovhannisyan declared his support of Ter-Petrosyan’s bid for presidency.


I've made my position clear in one of my earlier posts and now want to confirm my support for Levon Ter-Petrosyan candidacy. It is now not a simple choice between prime minister Serj Sargsyan and former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan. It’s now a choice between ‘no change’ (Serj) and ‘possibility of change’ (Levon with Raffi and others). I choose change!

For more details - see Unzipped

Monday 11 February 2008

“There Will Be Blood”

No, you guessed it wrong. It’s not some kind of pessimistic prediction for post-presidential election Armenia I am writing about. It’s about film which I saw over weekend in London in the run-up to British equivalent of Oscars.

Set up mainly in early 20th century, this is the most powerful film to come out in recent years to depict religion leader’s hypocrisy in contemporary world, contrasting it with brutal inhumanity of emerging oil businesses and questioning who is the real prophet? – business interests, money… Daniel Day-Lewis with his brilliant performance in “There Will Be Blood” won today prestigious British Academy Film Award for leading male role.

Watch it, you won’t regret it.

*photo of Daniel Day-Lewis - via BBC

Friday 1 February 2008

Armenian Aryan Order dislikes all candidates and that’s good news for presidential elections in Armenia

A group of far right nationalists and bigots called themselves Armenian Aryan Order along with 2 other ‘organisations’ declared that they will not support any candidate during upcoming presidential elections in Armenia, and urged their supporters participate in elections and vote against everyone. Not that anyone cares about their opinion, and this announcement would not have grabbed my attention, if it is not for the reasons as to why they dislike all 9 presidential hopefuls. I will not describe reasons specific for each candidate. The good news is that, according to Aryans, candidates’ ideology is “far from that of Armenian-Aryans and true nationalist ideology.”