Monday 30 November 2009

YES to SEX... NO to AIDS - party at Aftershock Republic for a worthwhile cause to mark World AIDS Day in Yerevan on 1 December

Participate in World AIDS Day events in Yerevan and finish the day in style and for a very worthwhile cause. Party at Aftershock Republic. Say "Yes" to Sex, and "No" to AIDS. Many surprises will be awaiting you there. Even more - the entrance is only 500 AMD, which will be donated to PINK Armenia.

For details of the event - see its Facebook page.

“Stop the Counter” events to mark World AIDS Day 2009 in Yerevan, Armenia

This year, group of Armenian NGOs united to mark World AIDS Day with a broad range of actions. Other individuals and organisations stage World AIDS Day related events too.

Organisers held a press conference today which has been widely reported by Armenian online media. As rightly pointed out, the “Armenian public continues to cling to HIV/AIDS stereotypes”.
The other participant in today’s press conference, Mamikon Hovsepyan of PINK Armenia (Public Information and Need of Knowledge), turned his attention to those issues which affect gay and lesbian individuals, as well as substance abusers. “Because of discrimination and intolerance, they cannot go see a doctor or seek treatment.”

According to Hovsepyan, there is a widely held belief in Armenia that the danger of contracting the HIV virus stems mostly from gay and lesbian people; though, in reality, the virus is most often spread among heterosexual people. In Armenia, people’s rights continue to be violated, while the accessibility of treatment continues to remain a dream, concluded Hovsepyan.
Here is the schedule of main events planned for 1 December 2009 in Yerevan. I hope this collaboration will continue throughout the year, and we will see more actions planned in regions.

[Earlier, within the framework of “Stop the Counter” action, PINK Armenia and Armenian Student Forum organised trainings on 26-28 November to raise students/youth awareness about sexual health issues.]

Public Information and Need of Knowledge, Armenian Student Forum, Real World - Real People, Positive People Armenian Network non-governmental organization are organizing “Stop the Counter” action dedicated to World AIDS Day aiming to raise society's awareness and consciousness about the spread of HIV and stigma & discrimination against people living with HIV. (via PINK Armenia)
1 December 2009

16:00 Stop the Couner March starting from the park near to Yerevan State Conservatory and ending at Cinema Moscow. (for more details, in Armenian - see Aysor)

16.00 march > from Komitas statue (in front of Yerevan State Conservatory)
17.30 human ribbon > Republic Square
18.00 stop the counter > Aznavour Square (in front of the Cinema Moscow)

19:00 Cinema Moscow: “Who never leaved” film screening,

19:30 Cinema Moscow: “The Famous Armenian Cultural Figures against AIDS” exhibition opening, 22:00 KAMI club, afterparty with DJ Vakcinology. (for more about the exhibition and club party - see Hetq Online)


If there is one party you should go on 1 December in Yerevan, it's party at AFTERSHOCK REPUBLIC. Surprises, information, worthwhile cause. Enter the club (only 500 AMD) and this all goes as a donation for PINK Armenia!!
! Read here for more.

This events are supported by UNAIDS.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Dita Von Teese on her Armenian roots at a book signing event in London

I met Dita at Waterstone's bookstore in central London. She is a famous American burlesque artist, model and actress. She was in London for a book signing event for her newly published book Dita Stripteese. She looked stunning and elegant.

I managed to have a very brief chat with her. As you may remember from one of my earlier posts, tweetting during Eurovision 2009, Dita Von Teese revealed that she is part Armenian:
"At eurovision, The Armenians are killing me with their hair and especially the fierce cateye liner! LOVE! I am part Armenian, in fact." *
I then looked over various sources but could not find any info to clarify this further. So I used this opportunity to ask Dita directly about her Armenian roots.

She said to me that unfortunately she does not know much about her Armenian roots. She said that it's from her grandmother's side saying that her grandmother was "adopted Armenian".

Long queues outside the Waterstone's bookstore on Piccadilly, London.

Book signing, Waterstone's bookstore, Piccadilly, London.

...And here is more info about her truly a "playful and beautifully packaged book" - Dita Stripteese. Happy to have it signed by Dita :)

Thursday 26 November 2009

Police in Georgia targets Batumi-based newspaper journalist using KGB-style gay blackmail reports: The Batumi-based weekly newspaper, Batumelebi, said law enforcement officers attempted to “blackmail” and “intimidate” its journalist, including through use of “stigma persisting in Georgia” towards homosexuality.

It said in a statement on Thursday, that on November 25 head of the newspaper’s journalistic investigations unit, Tedo Jorbenadze, was summoned by Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Department’s (SOD) local division in Adjara Autonomous Republic to talk about “some personal matters” and “about his sexual partner.”

Before going to the SOD’s Adjara headquarters in Batumi, Jorbenadze informed about the summoning newspaper’s director and editor-in-chief, Mzia Amaglobeli and Eter Turadze, respectively, who decided to accompany colleague at a meeting with the law enforcement officers. However, according to the statement, the editor and director were not allowed to attend a conversation between Jorbenadze and the officers.

The Batumelebi said that during the meeting Tedo Jorbenadze was shown what seemed to be cropped black-and-white photos of near-naked men also featuring the journalist himself.

“Tedo Japaridze was told [by law enforcement officers] that there was an interest towards the Batumelebi newspaper by special services of foreign countries, in particular Turkey and Russia and they needed his assistance and cooperation,” the Batumelebi said. “After receiving a refusal [from the journalist], Jorbenadze was warned that these photos would have been sent to his ailing father, as well as to his colleagues and disseminated through internet. But Jorbenadze told [the law enforcement officers] that they would not intimidate him with cropped photos and left.”

The newspaper said it intended to request the prosecutor’s office to open investigation into the case, which it described as “Soviet KGB-style method of recruitment.”
For Russian version of this report - see Gay Caucasus.
It's not the first time that the journalists of this Batumi-based publication face intimidation.
31 July 2008 - - Public Defender Sozar Subari has requested the prosecutor’s office in Batumi to probe into the alleged “intimidation” of journalists at the local weekly newspaper Batumelebi.

The newspaper, published in Batumi, Adjaran Autonomous Republic, said in a statement last week that it had received an e-mail, which said: “you will find him [one of the newspaper’s journalists] dead with the newspaper stuck in his mouth.”

Prior to the anonymous e-mail, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Eter Turadze, and another journalist were, they say, followed by unknown people. They say the surveillance was deliberately noticable, presumably so as to intimidate them.

The Public Defender’s Office said in a statement on July 31 that the incidents should be investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office as it believed they constituted intimidation.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Yeghishe Charents cover of Marriott Armenia magazine (fall 2009 issue, Yerevan)

Love this Yeghishe Charents cover of Marriott Armenia magazine, via Ara Aslanyan.

PINK Armenia: Tolerance (video)

PINK Armenia uploaded this video to mark the International Day for Tolerance (16 November).

Posters in this video say (as per PINK Armenia video description on YouTube):

- I am a sex worker...
- My mother is the best mother in the world
- By denying me, you don't help me to leave drugs
- Being infected with HIV, doesn't stop me being your friend
- Being homosexual is not a choice
- We all are equal, this world is for everybody

First ever gay Arabic book Bareed Mista3jil goes international reports that the first ever gay Arabic book Bareed Mista3jil, published in Lebanon, will be touring California in December. "Members of MEEM [activist and support group for Lebanese LBTQ women] have already toured Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, France, and Armenia, making the book's release a truly international event."
Bareed Mista3jil, meaning express mail, isn't just the first queer Lebanese book ever published -- it's also the first queer Arabic book, period, to be published
A compilation of anonymous personal narratives from Lebanese LBTQ women of all social classes and religions, Bareed Mista3jil addresses coming out, religion, family, emigration, abuse, and activism. MEEM, an activist and support group for Lebanese LBTQ women, publicly released the book at the Al Madina Theater in Beirut last May, attracting an audience of 400 people.
MEEM organizer Shant (who declined to give her full name) described the book as a big step for Lebanese LGBTs.
"We can actually talk about our experiences and show that they touch more than just the lesbian community," she said.
Shant reports a lot of positive feedback for the book, which is sold at Virgin Megastores in Lebanon, and MEEM is already planning a fourth reprint to keep up with demand.
It's not surprising that the first queer Arabic book debuted in Beirut, given that Lebanon is known for having a relatively free press (compared with other Arab nations) and a liberal capital city. However, queer activists in Lebanon still have their work cut out for them. Homosexuality is sometimes punished under a law banning "sexual acts against nature," so coming out is not always safe or even possible (hence the anonymity of Bareed Mista3jil's writers).
"Some [queer women] are very out with friends and family and closeted at work; some [are] out at work [but] closeted to families. There isn't the notion of 100 percent out," said Shant.
MEEM is now campaigning to overturn 534, the Lebanese law used to punish homosexuality, and maintains a monthly e-magazine, Bekhsoos.

Monday 23 November 2009

PINK Armenia and Armenian Students Forum unite forces to raise students awareness on sexual health

I welcome this initiative. They say, “united we stand...” They are right.

PINK Armenia (“Public Information and Need of Knowledge”) and Armenian Student Forum are organizing “Stop the Counter” action dedicated to World AIDS Day to raise students/youth awareness about sexual health issues.

Within the framework of this action, the organisers with the help of non-formal education will conduct trainings on issues related to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

PINK Armenia and Armenian Student Forum are looking forward to your active participation.

The trainings will take place at PINK Armenia’s office on 26-28 November and are free of charge: 2 Pushkin, apt. 11 (near Sakharov Square).

For more information, contact:  tel: (010) 58 09 44,

Armenia: violence against women (posters, part 2)

For part 1 - see Unzipped

Look at these posters. Difficult, I know. Chilling, I know. ...But do not turn away. Let’s face up these real life stories of violence against women still happening in our society.

These posters will be translated into Armenian, and used throughout the country as part of the campaign by Women’s Resource Centre to stop violence against women.
On November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Women’s Resource Center in Yerevan will mobilize community members and other NGOs to protest gender violence. The events planned for November 25th will mark the beginning of 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls, which will include an exhibition and film screening at Kino Moscow in December. This will be the fourth year that the Women’s Resource Center has joined countries around the world in organizing events on November 25th to raise awareness about the issue of gender violence.

*posters by zArt - Araz Artinian

Re: ‘trendy’ topics in Armenian media, blogs and more

There is this recent trend in Armenian media and blogosphere. More and more people started writing, reporting, speaking of gay related issues, women rights, HIV/AIDS, sex etc. hoping to boost their ratings by using these ‘trendy’ topics. [not all, of course, some of them genuinely care of and interested in the issues they raise]

On one hand, it’s good that these topics became part of a more mainstream talk. Even if with mistakes, frequent lapses, discussions will help to eventually grasp the core of the issues and move on to a more civilised and informed level. On the other hand, in majority of cases, those who initiate or engage in discussions have little to no knowledge of what they are talking about, and this results in a frequently disappointing outcome with the spread of misinformation and deepening of intolerance. (just couple of latest examples - here and here)

Another related point I want to make here is that some of those who by their position (head of, say, HIV related agency or NGO) are supposed to tackle the issues as part of their daily routine, do it only from one ‘red day in the calendar’ to another, leaving the other days empty, thus imitating rather than really working on problems and issues. As the World AIDS Day (1 December) is approaching, we may (and do) notice significantly more related press conferences, reports and TV/radio programmes.

Here is PanArmenian.Net recent report from a round table against discrimination of HIV-positive people in Armenia organised for media and interested parties by the national centre for AIDS prevention and some NGOs. PanArmenian did a good job in capturing the essence of the issues discussed there. Now if only people who organised the event do it more regularly throughout the year, and if only Armenian media follow such examples of good reporting and make it a routine practice... After recent ‘incident’ with Aravot daily (see here), I became a bit cautious in praising good examples from Armenian media. They are so inconsistent. One day, they may post a great article, next day - a bigoted one which will destroy all the good job they did a day before.

Рафаел Оганян: Мы боремся за то, чтобы общество перестало клеймить людей, живущих с ВИЧ
20.11.2009 18:53 GMT+04:00
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ «Общество выделяет людей, живущих с ВИЧ, и ставит на них клеймо, думая тем самым, что ограждает себя от существующей проблемы. Но при этом люди получают меньше информации о путях передачи ВИЧ, методах его лечения, и становятся более уязвимыми к этой болезни. Поэтому, при проведении мероприятий, мы в первую очередь обращаем внимание на изменение отношения общества к людям, больным вирусом ВИЧ. Мы боремся за то, чтобы общество перестало клеймить и дискриминировать этих людей», - заявил 20 ноября на организованном для заинтересованных общественных организаций и представителей СМИ круглом столе начальник Отдела по пресечению СПИДа Республиканского центра пресечения СПИДа Рафаел Оганян. Круглый стол был посвящен теме “Исключение проявления дискриминации по отношению к людям, живущим с ВИЧ, и их социальная поддержка”. Отношение общества к людям, живущим с ВИЧ, гости раскрыли на одном примере: журналиста, сказавшего, что он болен вирусом ВИЧ, просто высадили из маршрутного такси. “И это не единичный пример. Люди, живущие с ВИЧ, сталкиваются с подобным отношением каждый день: на улице, в кафе или даже в больнице. Случалось даже, что роженицам, больным вирусом, отказывали в медицинской помощи при родах. Дискриминация способствует тому, что, чувствуя на себе клеймо общественного мнения, люди, больные вирусом, замыкаются в себе и не проявляют активной деятельности. А ведь доказано, что именно такие люди наиболее полезны в деле поддержки больных этим вирусом», - подчеркнула представитель общественной организации “Реальный мир – реальные люди” Лусине Паносян. Представитель общественной организации «Армянская сеть позитивных людей» Аргине Степанян представила результаты эксперимента, проведенного организацией весной 2009 года. «Мы провели опрос среди персонала 18 стоматологических клиник, спросив, примут ли они на лечение людей, живущих с ВИЧ. По его результатам, без каких-либо проблем лечить таких пациентов согласились только работники шести клиник. Четыре клиники наотрез отказались принимать этих людей, а представители остальных шести организаций сказали, что, наверное, приняли бы этих пациентов. Но эти слова прозвучали не очень обнадеживающе», - заявила она. В деле изменения общественного мнения о людях, больных вирусом ВИЧ, организаторы круглого стола отвели значительное место СМИ. Однако Рафаел Оганян подчеркнул, что, приступая к освещению проблем ВИЧ и СПИДа, журналисты должны сначала сами глубоко изучить все аспекты этой проблемы, и уже потом представлять ее обществу. Особенно участники остановились на терминологии. В частности, президент НКО «СПИД – профилактика, обучение и лечение» Артак Мушегян подчеркнул: «Терминология болезни очень гибкая, и за ней нужно следить каждый день. За последние несколько лет мы уже перестали называть больных вирусом ВИЧ носителями вируса, сейчас мы четко разделяем ВИЧ и СПИД. И это не весь список изменений. Терминология, употребляемая журналистами, очень важна, так как она тоже является фактором формирования общественного мнения». Каждое третье воскресенье мая признано Днем памяти погибших от ВИЧ людей, а 1 декабря – День борьбы со СПИДом. Гости отметили, что в этот день предстоит много мероприятий, а в частности молодежное шествие по городу. Однако, по их словам, очень важно, чтобы о проблеме ВИЧ и СПИДа говорили не 2 раза в год, а все 365 дней в году. Это способствует изменению отношения общества к людям, больным этим вирусом. “ВИЧ – такая же болезнь, как сахарный диабет: вылечить его невозможно, но существуют лекарства, улучшающие качество жизни больных вирусом. Если воспринимать людей, живущих с ВИЧ также как диабетиков, многих проблем можно было бы избежать»,- отметила Лусине Паносян.

LA, Glendale hate crime report: decrease but problem remains - Armenians, Jews, gays targeted in 2008

Hate crimes decrease
Race motivated most in county, followed by sexual orientation and religion
By Veronica Rocha
November 20, 2009

Glendale News Press

LOS ANGELES — Religious hate crimes, including a tagging incident at Glendale’s St. Peter Armenian Church, increased last year throughout Los Angeles County, according to a county report released Thursday.

Religion was the basis for third-largest group of hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County in 2008, according to the county’s Commission on Human Relations annual report. Hate crimes based on a person’s race or sexual orientation made up the largest and second-largest groups, respectively.

“Hate doesn’t have to lead to more hate,” said Robin Toma, the commission’s executive director.

Hate crimes throughout the county that were motivated by religion increased from 105 in 2007 to 120 in 2008, according to the report.

In the area that includes Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and Burbank, there were 12 hate crimes last year. That was a steep drop from the 31 that occurred in 2007, a 61% decrease, said Marshall Wong, who helped author the commission’s report.

Race-based hate crimes in Glendale dropped from 25 in 2007 to seven last year. Sexual orientation and disability-based hate crimes also decreased, he said.

Hate-related aggravated assaults dropped from 13 in 2007 to zero in 2008, Wong said.

In Glendale, the race most discriminated against were Jews last year, with Armenians not far behind, with four and three hate crimes suffered, respectively.

The greatest percentage of religious hate crimes were vandalism, followed by intimidation. Most religious hate crimes occurred at homes and religious sites.

The only hate crime reported in 2008 in Glendale was tagging that was spray painted onto St. Peter Armenian Church, Sgt. Tim Feeley said.

A 2-foot-by-2-foot crescent and star was spray-painted on a wall outside the church, which police said was meant to intimidate Armenians by invoking the Turkish flag.

The modern Republic of Turkey has refused to recognize the Armenian Genocide in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1918 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Overall, hate crimes decreased in Glendale, from eight in 2007 to one in 2008.

“These types of crimes are so personal,” Feeley said.

The city doesn’t have any known hate groups that target residents based on their race, gender sexual orientation or religion, he said.

Glendale, once a bastion for white supremacy groups like the Ku Klux Klan, has changed dramatically as its population has become more diverse, officials said.

“I think Glendale has become a lot more open than in the past,” Feeley said. “We are far more diverse than we used to be. I think initially there was a reluctance to accept the change that Glendale was going through.”

Many residents, he said, have accepted Glendale’s diverse landscape.

“I think people are getting along a little bit better,” he said. “I think it’s really fortunate when you look at Glendale being the third-largest city in L.A. to only have one hate crime is really significant. It’s a testament to the residents that are getting along.”

Hate crimes against Armenians, blacks, whites, Asians, Middle-Easterners and transgender people decreased in 2008, according to the Commission on Human Relations report.

Hate crimes overall declined from 763 in 2007 to 728 in 2008 in Los Angeles County.

But the annual tally was the second largest since 2002, Toma said.

Hate crimes in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdictions dropped 25%, Sheriff Lee Baca said.

But crimes motivated by hate, especially ones committed by gangs, continue to exist.

“This is always troubling,” Baca said. “We want to have none of this to happen because all people are entitled to exercise who they are under the spirit of the American constitution.”

Sunday 22 November 2009

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - Christmas theme for Fortnum & Mason famous department store in London

Unfortunately, when I was there today, I did not see the dancers (real ones). Apparently, they did pose for windows displays, as per these 2 pictures below via Fortnum & Mason website.

If you have not seen Matthew Bourne's production of Swan Lake, do it. It's on Sadler's Wells over December 2009 - January 2010. It's fresh, it's daring, it's sexy. I enjoyed it in full. Modern ballet at its best. I wish it would be possible to show Matthew Bourne's works, including Swan Lake and Dorian Gray in Yerevan too. It would be something, I promise.

15th anniversary of Friends in London

Was away from London when it was marked. I wish I could drink a coffee at temporarily opened Central Perk cafe (67 Broadwick street, off Carnaby street) recreated based on popular TV series Friends which I got hooked on when I first arrived in London few years ago. Pure entertainment.

Christmas at Carnaby street, London

Opera Gallery, London

Saturday 21 November 2009

Ha! Russia: Shop in nude and for free

Nude shopping: Market allows naked buyers food for free

*via Russia Today:

Russian winter is probably not the best time to wander around in your briefs and bras, but a Moscow Region supermarket thinks different. Shoppers were told anyone who stripped to their underwear could take as much as they could grab, totally free of charge. That was enough to attract crowds of almost naked shoppers, some of them well over 60, and even larger crowds of shocked peeping toms. In fact, some were so shocked they reported the mass parade of flesh to the police. The event proved two things: One - people will do anything for free stuff and two, the human body is not equipped to carry shopping.

Friday 20 November 2009

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Armenians blogging:

Transgenders in Armenia (AM, RU, EN)

Hye Trent (EN)

*Statement by ILGA-Europe

Today, the Transgender Day of Remembrance is marked across the world and Europe. This Day was established following a murder of Rita Hester in 1998 and serves as a reminder of existing prejudice, hatred and discrimination against trans people.

Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project reveals that more than 160 murders of trans people in the last 12 months of which 16 took place in Europe:

* Turkey – 6
* Italy – 4
* UK – 2
* Spain – 2
* Serbia – 1
* Russia – 1.

The number of murders is however only the tip of the iceberg with regards to trans discrimination and marginalisation in European societies today. Trans people experience high level of discrimination in employment, access to healthcare and other goods and services. Trans people are also particularly vulnerable to violence and hate crimes. This high level of discrimination has this year been formally acknowledged by Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, who launched his “Human Rights and Gender Identity Issue paper”.

ILGA-Europe takes today’s occasion to extend its appeal to all European governments to assess where they are scoring poorly in terms of Commissioner Hammarberg’s recommendations and address the gaps without further delay.

ILGA-Europe calls on the European Commission and EU Member States to fully enforce the European Court of Justice’s jurisprudence through implementation of EU Gender Equality Directives vis-à-vis gender identify.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

In Style: Eva Rivas - Sayat Nova - Tamam Ashkhar

Brilliant performance of Sayat Nova by Eva Rivas. Stylish video clip. Sexy people. A must see. Impressed. Thanks to for the link.

© Armenia Production 2009
Tamam Ashkhar (The Whole World)
Author: Sayat Nova, 18th-century
Singer: Eva Rivas
General Producer: Valeriy Saaryan
Director: Bakhodir Yuldashev

Friday 13 November 2009

Kardashian family in support of gay marriage and equality; says NO to hate

Kim Kardashian voiced her support for gay rights and No H8 campaign in past too. Read my previous entry here: Kim Kardashian in support of gay rights and equality: "Shame on You, California!"

*via Kim Kardashian blog:

Kourt, Khloe and I did a photoshoot for the NOH8 campaign this week and this is one of the promo shots from the shoot! The NOH8 campaign is a cause that my whole family strongly supports. I've said it before... I believe EVERYONE should have the right to choose who they marry and that we do have the power to make a difference. What I love about the NOH8 campaign is that it symbolizes more than just people's desires to bring down Prop 8... it's about promoting love in general! Stop the H8, people!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Help Fund a New Book from the Women-Oriented Women’s Collective in Armenia

"Two Years in Correspondence"

*picture - via A.M. Facebook page

AGLA NY: Affiliated with the Women’s Resource Center (WReC) in Yerevan, Armenia, the Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) collective—a group of Armenian queer and straight artists, writers, and activists—is planning the publication of two years of its online electronic correspondence, beginning from its inception in 2007.

The correspondence includes original emails (in Armenian and in English) written by members of WOW discussing the foundation of the collective, the conceptual details and debates about outreach, awareness, art projects such as “Coming To You To Not Be With You” (August 3-4, 2008), and other important conversations on LGBT issues in Armenia. Some discussion threads include the translation and coining of new phrases in Armenian regarding gender and sexuality, accounts of coming out to self and family, and arguments on the goals of a feminist art collective to present radical views on gender. The book is scheduled for publication in August 2010.

The Armenian Gay & Lesbian Association of NY is proud to be helping the Women-Oriented Women’s Collective in Armenia raise funds to publish this important book.  For more information on The WOW

Collective and to help fund this project, please visit the project page on

Sunday 8 November 2009

"The biggest butt in the family" - Rob Kardashian

These are pics Kim Kardashian posted today on her Twitter page. These are pics of his brother Rob Kardashian's butt with her commentary. Quite a sight, I have to say ;) And here is Kim Kardashian's commentary:

Pic No. 1: "Guess who has the biggest butt in the fam?"

Pic No. 2: "Seriously Rob has the biggest butt! LOL"

Harvey Milk in Armenia (2): 'Milk' was shown on a national TV channel H2

His life changed history. His courage changed lives.

When I first watched Milk in London in January 2009, my first thought was "We need someone like Harvey Milk for Armenia. Someone who will inspire. Someone who will lead civil rights movement."

My second thought was whether the film will be shown in Armenia. I knew that it won't be released in cinemas, but there should be no problems with the DVDs.

However, I did not expect the film to be shown on Armenian TV channels so quickly. Always like pleasant surprises, and always happy to share them with you.

First, it was Tsayg TV channel in Armenia's second city Gyumri. They showed Milk in April 2009. Mamikon of PINK Armenia posted his impressions after watching the film: "I learn a lot from Harvey Milk, even all the phrases that he said are in my mind. Hope one day I can be so strong like him and I can do at least part of his work. I wish one day to stand on the top of the mountain with you and feel the wind of freedom."

What is even more significant is today's news from Yerevan, that Armenia's national TV channel H2 showed Milk tonight. News were first broken via Twitter. These are truly tweets of the day for me:

Armenian H2 channel shows a film on gay movement campaign in san francisco. WOW

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist NOW on H2 armenian channel.

@unzippedblog - yes and the film is in russian. sony ericsson is the official "hovanavor"

Yes, "His life changed history. His courage changed lives". Let's just hope that we'll achieve this in Armenia without losing (more) lives...

Georgia: Postcard competition on promoting LGBT equality initiative group and Inclusive Foundation are pleased to announce competition on creation of postcards aiming at promoting equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Georgia.

About Competition:
The postcard competition will have three main topic categories:
1. Equality
2. Diversity
3. Homophobia

Possible themes within categories can be stigmatization, discrimination, violence, hate speech/hate crime, human rights, rights of women, rights of child, transgender issues, HIV/AIDS prevention issues, sexual and reproductive rights, environmental issues, disability, age and other issues in relation to LGBT issues.

Call is open to all private persons, organizations and companies in Georgia and does not necessarily require their previous involvement with LGBT issues.

Deadline: 24 November 2009.

For more info - visit Inclusive Foundation website.

New LGBT blog (in Armenian) - MMK our dear friend :) The author is not new to the blogosphere but this is his first personal blog. It's in Armenian, with a focus on LGBT related issues.

Armenian doctor rejects there could be love between gay people amid abundance of stupid commentary in an interview... with Aravot daily

Perhaps, I was too quick to praise Armenian daily Aravot for its apparent shift of attitude away from homophobia. Only 2 days ago, Aravot re-posted publication on sexual orientation with calls to respect diversity and with the use of correct terminology to describe homo-, hetero-, and bi-sexuality.

Today, it was a different story: an interview with the so called doctor-sexopathologist Sevada Hakobyan. OK, the main blame here is on ‘sexopathologist’ but the way the questions were framed by the journalist Lusine Shahbazyan does not leave doubts on how prejudiced she is. (pay attention to the affirmative title of the article too - “Homosexuality as a sexual orientation disorder”) Aravot’s journalist is asking the ‘sexopathologist’ about “dangers of homosexual relations”.
Ինչպե՞ս են դառնում հոմոսեքսուալիստ, ի՞նչ վտանգավոր հետեւանքներ ունեն այդ կապերը:
I have to say that the so called ‘sexopathologist’ made some right comments too, particulalry mentioning that it’s not easy to distinguish gay men; that being feminine does not necessarily mean you are gay, and vice versa. Sevada Hakobyan also righty mentions, that although there are various theories in place, overall, you are born gay. It was funny to read doctor’s thoughts on gaydar (the ability of gay people to recognise each other), which is to some extent true.

However, what that doctor says afterwards completely discredits any provided commentary and doctor’s own professionalism. In fact, Sevada Hakobyan proposes a very own ‘theory of homosexuality‘ instead.

The ‘commentary’ goes on to refer to homosexuality as “disorder”, as compared to “normal” heterosexuality, and “dangerous” (in case of male homosexuality).

The ‘commentary’ then effectively denies the ‘reality’ of homosexuality in women, calling lesbian relations and women’s homosexuality a matter of esthetics, a “temporary pleasure”, as contrary to male homosexuality which is “more stable and very dangerous” (!!!) Truly, a new ‘theory of sexuality’ by Sevada Hakobyan.
«Սա ավելի շատ էսթետիկ եւ գեղագիտական նշանակություն ունեցող երեւույթ է՝ ժամանակավոր հաճույք, եթե, իհարկե, կորիզային, անփոփոխ բնույթ չի կրում: Տղամարդկանց մոտ նույնը չէ, ինչպես կանանց: Արական հոմոսեքսուալիզմն ավելի կայուն է եւ շատ վտանգավոր: Հոմոսեքսուալիստ տղաների գերակշռող մասի մոտ կայուն հոմոսեքսուալիզմ է: Սա մի երեւույթ է, երբ անհատին տհաճություն չի պատճառում իր սեռի ներկայացուցչի՝ տղամարդու հետ սեռական կապի մեջ մտնելը»:
During the interview, that doctor calls rectum a “sexual organ” for homosexual relations, and the sexual intercourse using “that organ” being prone in a majority of cases to getting “infected with AIDS”. [Our dear doctor is probably not aware of a basic and elementary knowledge that you do not get infected with AIDS, but with the HIV. I won’t even try commenting about that “sexual organ” thing.]
Այս կապերի ժամանակ սեքսուալ օրգան է հանդիսանում ուղիղ աղիքը: Դրանով տեղի ունեցող սեռական հարաբերությունները մեծամասամբ ՁԻԱՀ-ով վարակվելու հակվածություն է առաջացնում:
If you thought that the all above is outrageous enough, think again.

What is more outrageous is that the so called doctor ‘sexopathologist’ rejects that there can be any feelings and love between gay people, effectively equating homosexual relations to ‘sex only’.
Բժիշկ-սեքսապաթոլոգը բացառում է հոմոսեքսուալ կապերի մեջ հնարավոր զգացմունքը՝ սերը. «Այստեղ ավելի շատ սեռական ցանկության՝ լիբիդոյի ուղղվածության դրսեւորում է: [...]
I do not envy any patient which will get in contact with such a pseudo-professional. In fact, it can be dangerous for patient’s health. In any civilised country such a ‘professional’ will have his/her license to practice revoked.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Poster in Yerevan State College of Informatics (Armenia) put disabled children and homosexuality among causes of 'biological catastrophe'

And this college is supposedly considered a 'centre of excellence'?!... If this is what people 'study' at State colleges and 'centres of excellence', no wonder that the level of education in Armenia is on a steady decline.

Not only this poster reflects total lack of knowledge and bigotry by its creators and those who endorse it, but this is a clear indication of one of the main sources of hate in our society.

College administration either should take this poster down immediately, or share the responsibility with the creators of this 'educational material'.

*Thanks to Transgenders in Armenia for taking the photo. There are more reflections on this by Queering Yerevan and Dorian.

Article about transgender Armenian in Ankakh weekly (in Armenian): Gago or Anna? (female by passport only)

This article about transgender Armenian appeared in Ankakh weekly in June 2009, but I missed it back than. Thanks to for bringing this to my attention.

Գագո՞, թե՞ Աննա. անձնագրով իգական է, իսկ կյանքում` արական

Գագոն տղամարդ լինելու համար անհրաժեշտ ամեն ինչ ունի, բացի առնանդամից: Նա սափրվում է, թևերն ու ոտքերն էլ մազոտ են, սեքսուալ հակում ունի միայն կանանց հանդեպ և ապրում է ընկերուհու հետ, ում մասին ասում է` կինս: Աննա անունը փոխել է Գագոյի, քրոմոսոմները տղամարդու են (այսպիսի բան շատ հազվադեպ է պատահում): Սակայն բնությունը նրա հետ մի այնպիսի խաղ է խաղացել, որ մարդկային հասարակությունը փաստաթղթերի մեջ նրա անվան տակ նշում է՝ իգական սեռ: Սահմանն անցնելիս սահմանապահները նայում են անձնագրի լուսա-նկարին, հետո կարդում անունն ու չեն հավատում:

Գագոյին տեսնողի մտքով չի անցնի, որ նրա սեռն իգական է: Քայլում է տղամարդու քայլվածքով, հագնում է միայն տղամարդու հագուստ, ցանում է միայն տղամարդու օծանելիք: Ու եթե հանկարծ ծխել ուզես ու լուցկի չունենաս, ապա նրան դիմելիս անպայման կասես՝ ապե, կրակ ունե՞ս:

Գագոն, իսկ անձնագրով` 25-ամյա Աննա Բարսեղյանը, երեք տարեկանից իրեն տղա է զգացել ու շատ է վրդովվել, երբ մանկապարտեզ տանելիս նրան շրջազգեստ էին հագցնում, ու չէր հասկանում թե ինչու իրեն` տղային, աղջկա շոր են հագցնում:

Պատմում է, որ դպրոցում առաջին անգամ գիտակցեց, որ սեռի հետ կապված պրոբլեմ ունի: 11 տարեկանում արդեն զգում էր, որ աղջիկներն են իրեն ձգում, սիրահարվում էր աղջիկներին, ու երբ հասկանում էր, որ իրեն չեն ընկալի, ինքնամփոփ էր դառնում ու ոչ մեկի հետ չէր շփվում: Ինչքան էլ թաքցներ իր զգացմունքները աղջիկներն իմանում էին, որ նա իրենց նկատմամբ անտարբեր չի:

Գագոն ինչ է համարում իրեն՝ լեսբուհի՞, տրանսսեքսուա՞լ. «Չեմ սիրում և չեմ ընդունում, երբ մարդկանց պիտակավորում են,-հարցերից տհաճությունը դեմքին` ասում է Գագոն,- բայց եթե բանը հասել է նրան, որ պետք է ինչ-որ որակավորում տալ, ապա ես տղամարդ եմ: Չի ընդունում, երբ իրեն «բուչ» են համարում (ակտիվ լեսբուհի, որ տղամարդու կեցվածք ունի) կամ իր ընկերուհուն են լեսբուհի համարում: Ասում է, որ իր հետ եղած և ոչ մի աղջիկ իր մեջ աղջիկ չի տեսել: «Գագոն տղամարդ է»,-ասում է Նանան` Գագոյի ընկերուհին, որ իրեն լեսբուհի չի համարում և երբեք կանանց հետ չի եղել:

Եղել է, որ մի քանի ամիս շարունակ հանդիպել է աղջկա հետ, որի մտքի ծայրով էլ չի անցել, որ Գագոն տղամարդու բարեմասնություններ չունի:

16 տարեկանից բժշկները ձեռքից ձեռք էին խլում, որ օգնեն նրան պարզի իր ինքնությունը, սակայն, ինչպես ինքն է, պատմում նրանք զարմացած նայում էին իրար ու անիմաստ խորհուրդներ տալիս, կարծես իրենց դիմաց մի շատ ծանր հիվանդ էր կանգնած: «Բժիշկներից մեկն էլ նայեց մազոտ ոտքերիս ու ասեց,որ լուրջ խնդիր ունեմ: Ես պատասխանեցի՝ ո՞վա ասել, որ եթե ոտքերը մազոտ են, ուրեմն մարդը խնդիր ունի: Իմ ոտքերի մազերը ինձ շատ դուր են գալիս»: Հերթը հասել է սեքսապաթոլոգին, ով հետազոտելուց հետո ասել է, թե Գագոն իրեն կեսմարդ է դարձրել, և առաջարկել կեսը ամբողջացնելու երկու տարբերակ. Առաջին` ներարկել տղամարդու հորմոններ, որից հետո Գագոն կսկսեր մազակալել, ձայնը կկոպտանա, բայց կմնա կիսատ իրեն սիրահարվող աղջիկների համար: Եվ երկրորդ` կանացի հորմոններ ներարկել:

«Ես էլ ասացի՝ եթե դուք ունեք մի հորմոն, որն ինձ ներարկելուց հետո ես միանգամից աղջիկ կդառնամ, մազերս կերկարեն ու ես կցնծամ, եթե այդ հորմոնը կմտնի իմ սրտի մեջ, և այն կսկսի թրթռալ, երբ ես տղամարդ տեսնեմ, եթե պիտի կախարդվեմ ու մոռանամ, որ ինձ աղջիկներ են դուր եկել խնդրեմ, ներարկեք»:

Տասն ասեղ ընդունելուց հետո, հերթական այցի ժամանակ բժիշկը հարցրել է, թե ինչու նա շրջազգեստ չի կրում. «Քո խաթր դա էլ կանեմ, ասեցի ես ու այդ օրվանից սկսեցի կնոջ շորեր հագնել, մակյաժ անել»: Երեք ամիս տևեց ու իրեն ոչ թե աղջիկ էր զգում, այլ տրանսվիստիտ: Նույնիսկ համակուրսեցիները (սովորում էր թատերական ինստիտուտում) չէին ուզում իր մեջ տեսնել Աննային, նրանք սիրում և սպասում էին Գագոյին:

Հորմոնները Գագոյին աղջիկ չդարձրին: Չօգնեց նույնիսկ տղայի հետ համբուրվելը, ոչինչ չզգաց:

Վեց տարեկանում տեսած մի ֆիլմը, ուր իրար սիրող աղջիկն ու տղան վիրահատություն են անում, և տղան դառնում է աղջիկ, իսկ աղջիկը` տղա, ուղեկցում է նրան տարիներ, որի շնորհիվ անդամ ունենալու գաղափարը ֆանտաստիկ երազանք չէ, այլ հնարավորություն: Վիրահատությամբ անդամ ունենալու ձգտումը նրա կյանքի գլխավոր նպատակն է:

Աշխատում է երկու տեղ, որ կարողանա գումար հավաքել արտասահամանում թանկարժեք վիրահատության համար: Սակայն մինչ վիրահատական սեղանին պառկելը, նա նախապատրաստական երկար ճանապարհ ունի անցնելու`2 տարի, որի ընթացքում պետք է հորմոններ ընդունի և գտնվի հոգեբանների և բժիշկների հսկողության տակ: Երջանիկ է, որ ընտանիքն ու ընկերներն ընդունում են իրեն այնպիսին, ինչպիսին որ կա: Իսկ հասարակությո՞ւնը. «Ես հասարակության հետ խնդիր չունեմ, ինքը ինձ հետ խնդիր ունի: Վիրահատությունն անհրաժեշտ է, որ ինձ հասարակությունը լիարժեք տղամարդ համարի, իսկ ես առանց դրա էլ ինձ լիարժեք եմ համարում»:

Եթե նրա երազանքը կատարվի, Հայաստանի հանրապետության իր անձնագիրը կփոխվի՞, և նորում «սեռի» տակ «Ի»-ի փոխարեն կգրվի՞ «Ա»: ՀՀ օրենսդրությունը այդ մասին լռում է:

Աննա Իսրաելյան 

Friday 6 November 2009

My respects to Aravot daily and Everyone in Armenia and Diaspora should read this

There were times in recent past that popular Armenian Aravot daily was known for its homophobic publications. When it was the case, I made it very clear on a number of my posts of what I think of it, with the hope that change will come. I have to say, that over the last few months, Aravot daily changed significantly, and for better, much better, posting number of neutral to positive reflections on sexuality, sexual orientation, gay people. Yesterday’s publication by Aravot on sexual orientation, with the use of correct terminology and calls to respect diversity, based on publication, gives me hope that change did come, indeed. Let's hope, this trend will be sustainable. When praise is due, praise is due. I hope that Armenian media will follow suit.

Everyone, absolutely everyone in Armenia and Diaspora should read this. My thumbs up to website for its highly professional and invaluable educational role.

Սեռական կողմնորոշվածության տեսակները

Սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունը բնորոշվում է մշտական հուզական, զգայական, զգացմունքային և սեքսուալ հակումներով որոշակի սեռի անձանց հանդեպ: Գոյություն ունեն սեռական կողմնորոշվածության երեք տեսակներ՝ տարասեռական, նույնասեռական և երկսեռական:

Տարասեռականը բնորոշվում է անձի սեքսուալ հակումով դեպի հակառակ սեռի ներկայացուցիչը: Տարասեռական կողմնորոշվածություն ունեցողները բավականություն են ստանում միայն հակառակ սեռի ներկայացուցիչների հետ կենակցելուց:

Նույնասեռականը բնորոշվում է անձի սեքսուալ հակումով դեպի նույն սեռի ներկայացուցիչները: Նույնասեռական կողմնորոշվածություն ունեցողները բավականություն են ստանում իրենց իսկ սեռին պատկանող ներկայացուցիչների հետ կենակցելուց:

Երկսեռականը բնորոշվում է անձի սեքսուալ հակումով դեպի և՛ իր սեռի, և՛ հակառակ սեռի ներկայացուցիչը: Երկսեռական կողմնորոշվածություն ունեցողները բավականություն են ստանում և՛ տղամարդու, և՛ կնոջ հետ կենակցելուց:

Մարդու սեռականության ամբողջական պատկերը ստանալու հարցում կարևոր դեր են խաղում անձի հոգեբանական և սոցիալական սեռերի բնութագրումը: Անհրաժեշտ է սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունը տարանջատել սեռական վարքագծից: Ինչպես սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունը, այնպես էլ սեռական վարքագիծը կարող է լինել տարասեռական, նույնասեռական և երկսեռական: Հարկ է ընդգծել, որ եթե անձը ցուցաբերում է այնպիսի սեռական վարքագիծ, որը միանգամայն տարբերվում է իր սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունից, ապա տվյալ անձի մոտ բացակայում են սեռական կողմնորոշվածությանը բնորոշ հակումները: Օրինակ, բոլոր տարասեռական կողմնորոշվածություն ունեցող անձինք, հայտնվելով այնպիսի միջավայրում, ուր բացակայում են հակառակ սեռի ներկայացուցիչներ (կալանավայրեր, բանակ), կամ զուտ կենսափորձի նպատակով, երբեմն էլ՝ ալկոհոլի, թմրամիջոցների կամ այլ ազդակների ազդեցության տակ, նրանք կարող են ունենալ պատահական սեռական հարաբերություններ նույն սեռի ներկայացուցչի հետ: Այլ ազդակների բացակայության դեպքում տարասեռականները կամ չեն կիրառում նույնասեռական վարքագիծ, կամ էլ կիրառում են՝ որոշակի շահադիտական նկատառումներից ելնելով (օրինակ՝ մարմնավաճառները փող վաստակելու նպատակով): Այս դեպքում արդեն տարասեռականը հանդես է բերում նույնասեռական վարքագիծ:

Այսօր դեռևս գոյություն չունեն հստակ պարզաբանումներ մարդու սեռական կողմնորոշվածության ծագումնաբանության և պատճառաբանության վերաբերյալ՝ լինի այն տարասեռական, նույնասեռական, թե՝ երկսեռական: Գոյություն ունեցող բոլոր վարկածներն էլ թերի են և պահանջում են հետագա ուսումնասիրություն՝ դրանք ապացուցելու կամ հերքելու նպատակով:

Ինչպիսին էլ որ լինի մարդու սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունը, այն պահանջում է հարգալից, հանդուրժողական վերաբերմունք, ինչպես նաև սեռական բազմազանությունը որպես այդպիսին ընդունելու խրախուսում, իսկ որոշ դեպքերում՝ մասնագիտական խնամք և աջակցություն:

*picture - via

Wednesday 4 November 2009

British Council - Armenia: failed attempt at “debate” on gay rights and discrimination

Unfortunately, I was unable to listen to the programme as ‘listen online’ options on the Radio Hay website did not work for me, despite numerous attempts.
As part of the British Council's committment to Equal Opportunities and Diversity our next programme on Wednesday, 4 November will be addressing the issue of sexual orientation, discrimination and stereotypes against sexual minorities in Armenia.

The guests of the programme debating on the subject are Fr. Ghazar Petrossian, Spiritual Pastor of the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, village Buravan, Ararat marz on one side and Lucine Vayachyan, Journalist with a personal interest in the issue on the other. As usual there will also be an opinion of one of the political parties of Armenia on the issue in question.
However, from what I read of some available transcripts and heard from friends who listened to the programme, it was barely a “debate” but rather a series of monologues of hatred. This programme ended up being anything but contributing to the “British Council's commitment to Equal Opportunities and Diversity”.

I have no doubts that the intentions of the British Council in Armenia were genuine. However, if nothing else, one would expect from the British institution the ability to organise a proper debate, a very British way of tackling the issues, or so they say.

I did not need British Council’s ‘help’ to hear again and again (unchallenged) bigoted views of some religious and political representatives. What I expected from the British Council, as part of their commitment to “equal opportunities and diversity”, is organising a healthy debate where people are prepared to challenge those views.

Next time you decide to tackle a sensitive issue, please, do your homework, invite people who are knowledgeable and prepared enough to be able to engage in a healthy debate. Train journalists whose main aim should be to facilitate the debate instead of effectively becoming a side of it. Train them in correct using of equality-anti-discrimination-driven terminology: not “hamaseramol” but “miaserakan” or “nuynaserakan” to refer to gays in Armenian.

What I indicated above sounds like intuitive enough to be stated but unfortunately this was not the case today, and “equal opportunity and diversity” exercise failed spectacularly.

There is a popular saying in Russian which comes to my mind:
Хотели как лучше, получилось как всегда.

Below is an extensive reflection (in Armenian) of the “debate” by Mamikon Hovsepyan of PINK Armenia. Mamikon comments on and provides details of homophobic/hateful quotes by Armenian church and nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun party representatives.

I recommend also reading Dorian’s reflections (in Armenian) - Հիսուս սիրում է գեյերին (‘Jesus loves gays’)

Mamikon Hovsepyan: Մենք հո անասուն չենք, Աստված մարդուն ստեղծել է իր նման

Հայաստանի Բրիտանական Խորհուրդի աջակցությամբ նոյեմբերի 4-ին Ռադիո Հայը կազմակեպրպել էր եթեր` նվիրված սեռական կողմնորվածությանը, խտրականությանն և կարծրատիպերին` ուղղված սեռական փոքրամասնություններին Հայաստանում:
Հաղորդման հյուրերն էին քահանա Տեր Ղազար Պետրոսյանը և լրագրող Լուսինե Վայաչյանը:

Ինչպես և սպասվում էր, քահանան իր ագրեսիվ ու դաժանություններ քարոզող խոսքով փորձում էր ազգին հետ պահել նույնասեռականներից, իսկ հաղորդավարները, չնայած որ հաճախ էին հիշեցնում իրենց հանդուրժող լինելու մասին, երբեմն օգտագործում էին խտրական տերմիններ, օրինակ` համասեռամոլ, տարասեռականներին անվանում նորմալ, կամ դառնում քահանայի խոսքերի կողմնակից:

Confessions by famous Armenians: Andre Agassi and Dita Von Teese

This past week saw two noticeable confessions by famous Diaspora Armenians - tennis player Andre Agassi and burlesque artist, model and actress Dita Von Teese. (about Dita's Armenian roots - here). They include revelations of drug use in both cases; also boob job (Dita Von Teese) and fear of hair loss and wearing the wig (Andre Agassi).

Andre Agassi (Earlier excerpts revealed his use of drug crystal methamphetamine in 1997. The 39-year-old, who retired in 2006, admits that - in order to escape a ban - he lied to tennis authorities that his drink had been spiked with the highly addictive drug. See also The Times): "Every morning I would get up and find another piece of my identity on the pillow, in the wash basin, down the plughole," he writes.

But after the wig fell apart in the shower the night before the Paris final, his brother helped him clamp it together using about 20 clips.

Agassi writes: "Of course I could have played without my hairpiece, but what would all the journalists have written if they knew that all the time I was really wearing a wig?

"During the warming-up training before play I prayed. Not for victory, but that my hairpiece would not fall off.

"With each leap, I imagine it falling into the sand. I imagine millions of spectators move closer to their TV sets, their eyes widening and, in dozens of dialects and languages, ask how Andre Agassi's hair has fallen from his head."

Dita Von Teese: Burlesque stripper Dita Von Teese says she opted for a boob job when she was 21 because her breasts had become ravaged by the effects of her LSD and Ecstasy habit.

The 37-year-old ex of goth freak Marilyn Manson is quoted as saying in Fabulous magazine: 'I was a bit of a party girl in the early '90s and used LSD and Ecstasy.'

'Eventually my weight dropped to 6stone 7lbs and I looked terrible, so I gave up drugs. My breasts never recovered, so when I was 21 I had 32D implants. Now I'm a healthy 8 stone and 2 pounds.'

Meanwhile, the hour glass beauty told the magazine she too suffers from cellulite but has her own magic way of disguising it, even when she strips.

'Just like any woman, I have a bit of cellulite, but you'd never know thanks to good lighting and my way of posing,' she says.

'We all have our flaws, and the best we can do is accept them – and disguise them!'

*pictures - via BBC and Metro

Tuesday 3 November 2009

"Nasha Russia"

*as part of the Russian Fashion Week, there was a 'anti-glamour' showcase by a popular Russian TV show "Nasha Russia" (via, via
Телеканал ТНТ устроил в рамках RFW антигламурный показ: на подиум вышли жена олигарха в период кризиса, гаишник с жезлоимитатором, футболист российской сборной, а также усатая невеста. Пародийный показ вызвал даже больший ажиотаж, чем проходившие в соседних залах дефиле известных дизайнеров.

Armenia: 16 days of activism to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls

(my posts with pictures and video from previous year events - here and here)

Host: Women's Resource Center
Start Time: Wednesday, 25 November 2009 at 11:15
End Time: Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 14:15
Location: Yerevan, Armenia

In 2006, we marched to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women and asked the foreign minister to implement the recommendations proposed in the UN security council resolution 1325.

In 2007, we marched to ask the parliament and the government to include more funding allocated in the national budget for women (resources, services and shelters) in the cities and rural areas of Armenia.

In 2008, we marched and held a silent protest on republic square to show our disappointment on how authorities, the media and other institutions are not paying enough attention to the situation of violence against women.

And this year, we are marching again on the streets of Yerevan and breaking the silence around violence against women by raising our voice and concerns on the issue. We will also hold a candle lighting ceremony in the middle of the city in memory and in support of all the women and girls violated, battered or harassed in their own homes, in our institutions or on the streets.

In solidarity with our sisters, daughters and mothers, let's break the silence on violence against women and girls in Armenia and around the world!

Program : Activism to stop violence against women

November 11-14, 20-22:
3 days workshop on violence against women (open to all, places are limited, please call to register) at the Women's Resource Center, phone: 010 51 91 68

November 25, 2009:
11 am – 2 pm: Awareness groups stationed in different parts of the city talking about violence against women.
4:30 pm: March towards Aznavur square and candle lighting ceremony.

December 5-8, 2009:
Collective Art Exhibition on Violence Against Women at Kino Moscow.

December 5-6, 2009:
Film screening at Kino Moscow on Violence against Women.

*via event's Facebook page

Monday 2 November 2009

Gender bending performances by Russian pop stars

Lolita - Остановите землю

ВИА Гра - Сумасшедший / VIA Gra - Crazy

Ruki Vverh - On tebja celuet

British Council - Armenia presents: radio debate to address sexual orientation, discrimination and stereotypes against sexual minorities in Armenia

*via British Council - Armenia Facebook page

Date: Wednesday, 04 November 2009
Time: 16:00 - 17:00
Location: Radio Hay (104.1 in Yerevan, 106.6 - Gyumri, 106.3 – Vanadzor)

As part of the British Council's committment to Equal Opportunities and Diversity our next programme on Wednesday, 4 November will be addressing the issue of sexual orientation, discrimination and stereotypes against sexual minorities in Armenia.

The guests of the programme debating on the subject are Fr. Ghazar Petrossian, Spiritual Pastor of the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, village Buravan, Ararat marz on one side and Lucine Vayachyan, Journalist with a personal interest in the issue on the other. As usual there will also be an opinion of one of the political parties of Armenia on the issue in question.

Follow the heated debate and challenge our guests with your questions by calling +374 10 526629 during the programme or leave your questions here. Have your say and participate in our POLL!

The British Council, as part of its Wo/Men in Politics project funded by the British Embassy Yerevan, launched a new Radio Programme aired on Radio Hay (104.1 in Yerevan, 106.6 - Gyumri, 106.3 – Vanadzor) each second Wednesday of the month at 16.00, starting from 15 July 2009.

** To coincide with the programme, British Council Armenia posted a Facebook poll with the following question:

Should people have equal rights regardless of their sexual orientation?

Faces of LGBT activists from Armenia - Zaruhi Shushanyan

Zaruhi Shushanyan from Armenia (We For Civil Equality NGO) was chosen as the face of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) for the exhibition celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organisation. She was among the representatives of 15 countries on display, including Georgia and Turkey.

Here is what Zaruhi has to say (via IGLYO website):  

“I believe that there are people who were born to change the world. I am the one who attempts to help activists in their mission.

I urge people in my country to care about others who "differ" from them.”

Well done, Zaruhi. I am proud of you.

This is the second instance when a female activist from Armenia is chosen for the international LGBT rights, anti-discrimination initiatives. (First example - Lilit Poghosyan)
About the exhibition: “In July 2009, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) celebrated its 25th anniversary with an international LGBTQ activist conference in Amsterdam, bringing together more than 80 activists from all regions of the world. The exhibition “Faces of IGLYO” consists of portraits some of these activists. It reflects the manifold backgrounds, experiences and people within the international LGBTQ community.”

“Very often, their personal efforts and sacrifices go unnoticed in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. This exhibition is also meant to act as a space for acknowledgement and recognition of the tremendously important contribution of each of these individual activists towards achieving equality for all LGBTQ people in all regions of the world.

On the occasion of IGLYO’s 25th birthday, Alex Muller has created portraits of 15 activists from all over the world. She is a self-taught photographer from Germany and considers photography a powerful tool of social activism. Her work mainly focuses on local and international activism around LGBT rights and health.”

“The struggles we face are unique in each country. However, what we share are our convictions, our knowledge and our passion.”

*picture - by IGLYO/ Alex Müller (via