Sunday 24 August 2008

“Lesbi dance” among more expensive (and sought for?) in Yerevan striptease clubs

As I mentioned in my Armenia Gay Guide, in Armenia, when people say "nightclub", they most commonly refer to “striptease club”. To avoid possible confusions, if you intend to go to “dance clubs”, I would advise using the word “discotheque”.

Aravot daily reports on prices you may expect for a trip to the “nightclub”, aka striptease club. You have to have at least $ 300 to go out there. If you expect some special treatment, you have to put more money. For a private, completely naked dance, a client pays 20 000 drams ($ 66-67); for a semi-private dance, when dancer reveals only breasts, it’s 10 000 ($ 33). Table dance is relatively cheap – 5 000 ($ 16-17). For admirers of “lesbi dance” (two women strip dancing together) – it’s 20 000 ($ 66-67). Apparently, you may ask dancer for a “private chat” too which costs 6 000 ($ 20).

Full article (in Armenian) which contains interviews with few dancers and some interesting insight into the macho men mentality and in general as perceived by strip dancers is available here.

There are also male strip dancers in Yerevan, though male strip shows are not as regular or frequent as women ones. Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that they are becoming more popular lately. Someone once hinted that male strip shows for Armenian women would be key for their sexual liberation and eventual sexual revolution. Do not know about that but that we need sexual liberation in our society is without doubts for me. I would suggest starting with the sexual education.

No, it's wrestling

Friday 22 August 2008

Armenian contemporary women artists discuss identity and sexuality via video works screened in Yerevan

Queering Yerevan posts selected extracts of videos by Armenian contemporary women artists. These videos, produced since 2000, were screened in Yerevan this August within a framework of Coming To You To Not Be With You exhibition by Armenian queer women.

The works shared a concern with the issues of the body and sexuality in the specific experiences of Armenian women artists. They articulate the body as sites for contestation of identity construction.

The aim of the program was to historicize WOW's [the Women-Oriented Women’s Collective (Armenian gay women group) - Unzipped: Gay Armenia] activities as well as contexualize them within the larger representational and identity discourses in Armenia.

Thursday 21 August 2008

UNICEF: Armenian children discuss documentary about gay teenager

As part of the “Children in the media” initiative run by UNICEF, 15 teenagers from Armenia participated in this year’s Prix Jeunesse ("youth jury") workshop in Yerevan (April 2008).

First of all, 15 children aged between 12 and 15 come together in the Manana Youth Center to be the regional youth jury for this year's Prix Jeunesse. They will watch six hours of programmes from all over the world - the finalists in the age category 12-15.
Among broadcasted programmes there was a documentary about a gay teenager from the Netherlands which sparked a “lively discussion”. No more details are provided.

...a documentary about a gay teenager from the Netherlands raises eyebrows. The topic is not very often talked about in Armenia, but is nevertheless sparks a lively discussion.
It is pretty much ‘breaking news’ taking into account Armenian realities. Education is key to deal with the prejudices and promote equality. Let’s hope similar initiatives will continue, and not only by UNICEF, and their scope will broaden to include more LGBT related programming, including locally made. As they say, “as part of an effort to promote and protect every child’s right to know more, say more and do more about the world they live in.”

Wednesday 20 August 2008

An afternoon of Armenian thought-provoking films at the LGBT centre in NY

Christopher Atamian, head of AGLA NY, New York based Armenian gay and lesbian advocacy group, reports for Yevrobatsi about recent cultural event co-sponsored by AGLA and Nor Alik, a leading Armenian cultural organisation.

I would particularly note these thought-provoking works by Melissa Boyajian, a fine arts student from Boston.

"On June 22nd at the LGBT Center in New York City, Nor Alik presented an innovative and diverse afternoon of Armenian culture. First Melissa Boyajian, a student at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts presented three short films, including “Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon” and “Conversational Armenian,” as well as a third film in development. Melissa noted that the last two films were meant as installation video pieces, so that viewing them as films on a screen distorted the intended effects. Still, everyone present was happy to have watched them in either form.

In “Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon,” a unseen hand wraps different material tubing (copper, string etc) around a close-up of a tongue inside an open mouth. The viewer sees the different wires being tied around the tongue over and over again until the mouth is overstuffed with wiring. The film is meant as a statement on the traditional Armenian tradition in which a woman had to keep silent for a year after getting married [Unzipped: Gay Armenia – I must admit I never heard or came across with this “traditional Armenian tradition”], but also on the general silencing of women in society, particularly in more conservative (and Armenian) societies. In “Conversational Armenian” Boyajian plays both a man and a woman on a split screen, both repeating remarkably sexist sentences reproduced verbatim from a conversational Armenian tape published a few years back in Beirut. Each lesson is interrupted by a clever riff on Armenian culture, until the last frames when the viewer is in for a little surprise..."

Monday 18 August 2008

Armenia’s answer to ‘metrosexual’ men glossies

Yerevan, Armenia, winter 2008...

Warning: New computer virus – “gay Saakashvili”

Over the last few days my mailbox’s ‘spam folder’ caught number of ‘gay Saakashvili’ messages (referring to Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili). Obviously, I did not open them expecting that this could be a kind of fishy, computer virus spreading spam. Today posted news by Security Lab which provides details of that spam attack.

"Mikheil Saakashvili gay scandal! New of this week!" messages contain a reference to the fake BBC news link. It re-directs to the site which starts downloading a malicious code into the user's computer. Experts note the size and technical execution of this spam attack. It began on Friday and within a short time managed to take up 5% of total advertising traffic. Tests conducted at the University of Alabama showed that only four out of 36 special antivirus systems (VirusTotal) were able to recognize the circulated code as malicious. There were 44 identified computer sources of that spam indicating the formation of a new botnet.
Одной из последних тем для спама стала предположительно нетрадиционная ориентация президента Грузии. Письма с темой "Mikheil Saakashvili gay scandal! New of this week!" содержат поддельную ссылку на новость BBC, на самом деле перенаправляя на сайт, откуда происходит загрузка вредоносного кода.

Зафиксированную рассылку выделяют среди прочих ее масштабы и техническое исполнение. Распространение спама началось в пятницу, за короткое время он занял 5% от общего объема рекламного трафика. Второй момент – тестирование специалистов Университета Алабамы показало, что только четыре из 36 антивирусов сервиса VirusTotal смогли распознать распространяемый код как вредоносный. Было зафиксировано 44 компьютера-источника спама, что свидетельствует о формировании новой бот-сети.

Nationalist media in Russia hints at "homosexuality of Georgian soldiers and spies" reports that nationalist and clerical media in Russia uses Georgia – Russia war to provoke homophobia.

From the early days of the escalation, some information sources started spreading rumours alleging that “women’s underwear” was found on killed Georgian soldiers. Particularly, nationalist Eurasia portal, close to the movement of contemporary Russian nationalist ideologist Alexander Dugin, explicitly stated that "the Georgian army recruits homosexuals."

From a nationalist Eurasia portal (both Russian and English texts – as in original source):

В грузинскую армию набирают гомосексуалистов
В Цхинвале был обнаружен один убитых из грузинских солдат, который был одет в женские колготки и кружевное нижнее белье, сообщает корреспондент портала «Евразия» с места событий. Также в его кармане была найдена фотография одного из высокопоставленных чиновников грузинской армии, на оборотной стороне которой предположительно его подпись и признания эротического содержания.

One of killed georgian soldiers in Chinvali wore stockings. Photo of one of Georgia Army oficial was found in his pocket. On other side of the photo - name of the oficial and a erotic message.

In the meantime, Ossetian media published an interview/report about “uncovered [in previous years, by Russian intelligence agency, aka ex-KGB] network of Georgian spies”. In particular, the online publication mentioned Zurab D. who was "under the patronage" of famous Moscow sculptor of Georgian origin Zurab Tsereteli. Media report specifically indicated that Zurab D. has ”non-traditional sexual orientation" and alleged that he “recruited a staff member of the Russian Foreign Ministry.”

[...] В результате такой информированности одним из самых неприятных для нас сюрпризов явилось то, что Зураб Церетели - заслуженный человек, не обделенный российским вниманием, - очень активно помогал грузинским спецслужбам. В частности, он разместил у себя Зураба Двали, который работал на телекомпанию "Мзе" и который имел нетрадиционную сексуальную ориентацию, у него было хобби посещать гей-клубы Москвы. Зурабу Двали удалось завербовать одного из сотрудников МИД России, который впоследствии стал предоставлять ему служебную информацию. Этими сведениями, не раскрывая источники, спецслужбы Абхазии обменялись с москвичами и в итоге этот человек больше не работает в МИД РФ. Кстати, Зураб Двали "отличился" еще и тем, что во время бесланских событий оказывал информационную помощь террористам: давал те интервью, по которым террористы узнавали обо всем, что происходило за внешним ограждением. Позже Двали был выдворен из России сотрудниками УФСБ по Республике Дагестан, как агент грузинских спецслужб, но, тем не менее, он продолжал работать в Москве, и нам пришлось приложить немало усилий, чтобы выставить его из России.

Штаб-квартира Двали одно время располагалась в Москве, прямо у Зураба Церетели в мастерской, в районе Белорусского вокзала. Когда произошла утечка информации о работе З. Двали на грузинские спецслужбы, Зурабу Церетели пришлось выкинуть Зураба Двали из своей мастерской.

Oh dear!

Sunday 17 August 2008

Blogs ‘fake ban’ themselves in Turkey in protest against Internet censorship

I do not think that shutting down blogging – temporarily fake self-banning - as a form of protest would have any effect. Quite the contrary, those who behind Internet censorship in Turkey would be pretty pleased with this and would prefer this fake self-ban become permanent. Anyway, here is what TechChrunch reported on the matter: “Web Censorship Is So Bad in Turkey That Blogs Are Shutting Themselves Down In Protest”. Nearly 200 Turkish blogs signed up for the protest which will last till Wednesday. "The point is to show Turkish Web surfers what the Internet would look like if the censorship continues unabated."

It doesn’t take much to get your Website banned in Turkey. Pretty much any complaint to a lower court can get a Website blocked in the country. Websites including YouTube, DailyMotion, Alibaba,, and some Wordpress blogs have all been banned, usually because of some purported slight to the Turkish government or Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. (The Youtube ban was the result of a sophomoric video claiming Ataturk was gay).

The problem has gotten so bad that Turkish blogs are now banning themselves in protest. The fake bans started with Firat Yildiz, who put this message up on his blog:

Bu siteye erişim kendi kararıyla engellenmiştir

which roughly translates to:

The access to this web site is prevented by its owner’s free will.

Saturday 16 August 2008

System Of A Down - Boom!

Listening to the 'anti-war' speeches full of hypocrisy at its highest level by Bush & co re current Georgia - Russia war, I suddenly wanted to put Boom! by System Of A Down.

Monday 11 August 2008

Message from the head of LGBT NGO in Georgia

Well known gay rights activist from the US Michael Petrelis initiated an exchange of messages to the Gays Without Borders group on Yahoo being concerned about well being of gay people in Georgia and South Ossetia. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone from the South Ossetia, but I know Paata Sabelashvili, head of Georgian only LGBT organisation – Inclusive Foundation. I got involved in the conversation and mentioned about Inclusive Foundation.

Hi guys,

I've been in touch with the head of Georgian only LGBT NGO - Inclusive Foundation. He is OK, well, as 'OK' as the rest of the population.

Best Wishes,

Based on this conversation, Michael made the following blog post:
Georgian Gay Leader is Alive and OK

I forwarded our conversation to Paata, and we just heard back from him from Tbilisi:

Hello everybody,

In the first place, let me thank you for expressing solidarity in this difficult moment.

I am the head of Inclusive Foundation. Unfortunately, I have not been able to take good care of the NGO these days as I was helping out journalists who covered the events. I was with Danish TV2 journalists as close to capital of South Ossetia as 6 km today. Bombs have been dropped around us. we saw 3 jets and heared more, as well as the noise from more than 20 charges being released.

It is close to panic situation. I am now sitting in the office and try to get on hold with family and friends. mobile phones are down. I am not sure when will internet go off. Russian troops are stationed 20 km west to capital Tbilisi and people are fleeing the city. I do not know what is on invaders' mind but it is really bad what is on in town.

Only reason our website still works is that it is placed outside Georgia and does not have Georgian domain.

It is not so easy for me to make clear points. So, obviously I need to stop writing and go back to why I came to office: to back up all our workfiles in case office is bomned.

I thank you for thinking of us and I wish peace to all of you no matter where you are.


Paata Sabelashvili
(by the way we are out and publicly visible - you can see that in our magazine as well)...

Open Letter To Stop War


Women’s Coalition for Peace in South Caucasus

11 August 2008

In light of the recent events in South Ossetia and Georgia, we at the Women’s Resource Center are taking action as part of the Women’s Coalition for Peace in the South Caucasus. The Coalition is composed of women’s groups in Armenia, Azerbaijan, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia that are united in a call for peace in our region. We work towards stopping all types of violence against women in conflict zones, and we believe that the voices of women need to be represented to realize this goal.

The Women’s Resource Center engages in mobilizing Armenian women to stand in solidarity with our sisters in Georgia and South Ossetia. The war of the past few days in that region is having a profound impact on the general civilian population as seen by the destruction of property, livelihood, normality and the senseless loss of life. The ongoing violence is exacerbating an already unstable situation as well as adding to the existing problems and dangers of the entire region in terms of creating countless refugees and internally displaced persons.

We condemn the actions of both Georgian and Russian authorities in harming peaceful citizens. We urge all sides of the conflict to return to non-violent processes in reaching a peaceful resolution. We also call on the international community to swiftly intervene in this situation and ensure that peace prevails in the South Caucasus region.

CALL FOR ACTION: in solidarity, we invite everyone believing in reinstating peace in our region to wear red and white ribbons and join our peaceful collective actions.

For upcoming peaceful actions in Yerevan, please contact the Women’s Resource Center.

Contact info:

Women’s Resource Center, NGO

34 Zarubyan st.

Yerevan, Armenia

Tel: + 374 – 93 -99-22-44

+ 374 -01- 51-91-68


Friday 8 August 2008

Russian media: Armenian lesbians take up environmental issues

Citing Russian news portal, briefly reflects recent exhibition organised by Armenian queer women. reports that for the first time there was an action organised by Armenian lesbians in Yerevan. A series of cultural events were held to draw attention to the environmental problems of the modern world. By focusing on the "environmental protection and developments in gardening”, they simultaneously presented with a photo and video exhibition about "the story of women's work with the public which does not accept non-traditional sexual orientation." Russian news website specifically notes that as opposed to similar Western events, "attributes of sexual orientation" were not “paraded”. Since decriminalisation of homosexuality in Armenia, sexual minorities are still considered as pretty much a taboo subject in the society, and mainly exploited for “political scandals”, concludes

В Армении впервые прошла публичная акция лесбиянок

Накануне в Еревне впервые прошла акция лесбиянок, организованная Ресурсным центром женщин Армении. В рамках акциии была организована фотовыставка и видеопоказ, где была представлена история работы женщин с общественностью, не воспринимающей нетрадиционную сексуальную ориентацию. Кроме того женщины нетрадиционной ориентации предстваили отчет о работе в защиту окружающей среды и разработках в области садоводства. В отличие от организуемых зарубежом гей-парадов, здесь не афишировались атрибуты сексуальной ориентации.

Армянские лесбиянки занялись экологическими проблемами

Армянские лесбиянки провели в Ереване несколько культурных акций, которые призваны привлечь внимание к экологическими проблемам современного мира. Сделав акцент на "отчете о работе в защиту окружающей среды и разработках в области садоводства", лесбиянки одновременно представили фотовыставку и видеопоказ с рассказом об "истории работы женщин с общественностью, не воспринимающей нетрадиционную сексуальную ориентацию". Об этом пишет Gazeta.Ru со ссылкой на своего корреспондента в Ереване. Другие подробности акции не сообщаются. Отдельно отмечается, что никакие "атрибуты сексуальной ориентации" в ходе мероприятий "не афишировались".

Напомним, что уголовное преследование гомосексуалов было отменено в Армении в 2003 году. С тех пор тема жизни сексуальных меньшинств находится в этой стране под определенным табу. И возникает преимущественно в ходе политических скандалов.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

New blog - Transgenders in Armenia

Another welcome addition to Armenian LGBT blogosphere, and another important sign that LGBT Armenians are becoming more active in making their voice heard, via various personal initiatives, via blogs and forums.

Transgenders in Armenia

This is the second blog by transgender Armenian which I am aware of. In June, I posted news about new blog Hye Trent, "The ramblings of a Lebanese-born, Middle Eastern Armenian Queer Transguy."

Transgenders in Armenia is started by a Yerevan based transgender Armenian. The author aims to provide essential information about life of transsexual people and create a network of transsexual Armenians so that organised and united they could achieve some progress in protecting their rights and dealing with the prejudices, taking into account Armenian realities.

The good news is that now we have two blogs pursuing similar aims - a good starting basis for collaboration. Without doubt, they could rely on support of other LGBT blogs, and particularly Unzipped: Gay Armenia.

Main language of this new blog is Armenian (plus Russian).

Welcome to blogosphere, N.!

Monday 4 August 2008

Hetq Online on Armenian blogosphere

Overall, one of the rare articles in Armenian media which depicts Armenian blogosphere, bloggers and blogs as they are. Shushan Harutyunyan, the author of this report, is a blogger herself, and knows blogging perfectly from the inside. She is the author of A1+ blog, as well as a more personal one. Hetq’s article contains interviews with Kornelij, Ditord, Reporter-arm and myself. I recommend it.

Armenian version

English version

Friday 1 August 2008

First collective art exhibition of queer Armenian women artists in Yerevan

Must See Yerevan!

The first collective art exhibition of queer Armenian women artists - 3 August 2008 at 18:00.


Women's Resource Center
34 Zarubyan St.
Yerevan, Armenia

There will be a panel discussion (19:00) followed by video screening (21:00) on 4 August.

For details, click on the flyer below.