Wednesday 31 March 2010

Armenia: Gays live with threats of violence, abuse (EurasiaNet report)

Sad and shameful reality for a country that seeks one day to become part of the EU. A damning for Armenia's international reputation report by EurasiaNet.
Marianna Grigoryan 3/31/10

Two years after Yerevan signed an international agreement to uphold the civil rights of gays, homosexuals in Armenia still face the constant threat of physical abuse and social isolation because of their sexual orientation.

"When my parents learned that I was homosexual, they first beat me and then kicked me out," Armen, a 22-year-old Yerevan resident who works as a teacher, told "Even now, after years have gone by, my mother doesn’t let me in, and some of my friends keep asking whether I’m really one of ’those’ people."

Armen (not his real name) says he realized he was gay at the age of 13 when he fell in love with his classmate. He met his first boyfriend in an online chat room when he was 20.

"I introduced him to my parents as just one of my friends. But one day my mother saw me kissing him, and that’s when all this started," Armen said. "My mother yelled that I’d better be dead, and my brother left the army to come home and beat me. So I went to live in the streets." Armen now lives with his grandmother.

Homosexuality has not been a criminal offense in Armenia since 2003; two years ago, the country signed the United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which asserts the right to equal treatment regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It has also ratified a protocol to the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that bans all forms of discrimination.

But gay Armenians are still often the targets of discrimination. Aside from the risk of losing work, homosexuals face becoming social outcasts - a heavy burden in Armenia’s communal, family-centric culture. Some families have been known to emigrate to escape the stigma of having a gay family member. Similar social prejudices prevail in neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan as well.

The United States Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report described the Armenian public’s views on gays as "highly unfavorable;" homosexuality is "largely" seen as "an affliction," the report found. [For additional information click here].

"Armenia has always been intolerant toward homosexuals," commented Mikael Danielian, the chairperson of the Helsinki Association of Armenia, a human rights non-governmental organization.

Danielian says that his organization regularly receives alarming calls about attacks on suspected homosexuals. But criminal cases for the assaults usually are not filed because victims are afraid of publicity and additional public scorn, he said.

"Frankly speaking, we cannot do anything in these cases," Danielian said. Sometimes, gays who have been the alleged victims of discrimination simply want attacks mentioned in the organization’s reports, he added.

One recent assault was reported in mid-February when local media outlets claimed that Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglarian had ordered police officers to use force against suspected homosexuals and transvestites who allegedly routinely gathered in a park adjacent to the mayor’s office. Yerevan mayor spokesperson Anzhela Martirosian declined to comment on the reports, maintaining that the incident "didn’t concern the mayor’s functions."

One new political group has welcomed what it sees as the mayor’s decision to rid the Armenian capital of homosexuals. The National Conservative Movement, a small right-wing party founded last year, hailed Mayor Beglarian as a "true Armenian man" and urged supporters to continue attacking homosexuals.

Gay rights and violence against homosexuals are not issues that other political parties -- whether members of Armenia’s governing coalition, or in the opposition -- discuss publicly.

The Armenian Apostolic Church is similarly reticent. Father Vahram Melikian, spokesperson for the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, identified homosexuality as "a sin" and "negative phenomenon."

"[B]ut even these people can be granted absolution and come back to the right path," Father Melikian said.
Anti-gay attitudes appear to run particularly strong in the military. Since 2004, gays have been exempted from military service for supposedly being mentally ill.

One man, who gave his name as Narek, told that an army officer had beaten him when he revealed his homosexuality during a psychiatric exam for military service. Narek claims that he spent three days in a mental hospital and was discharged from military service with the diagnosis of a "personality disorder."

One non-governmental organization, Public Information and Need for Knowledge (PINK) Armenia, was formed in 2007. It aims to raise awareness about minority rights, and advocates for a break with traditional prejudices. "We live in an atmosphere where people are full of hateful words against homosexuals, and this drives them to commit hate crimes," commented Marina Margarian, PINK Armenia’s project coordinator. "An atmosphere exists where being gay is a terrible disgrace and beating a gay person is an honorable act."

Given the fear of reprisals, many Armenian homosexuals try to keep their contacts with other gays as discreet as possible. The members-only Armenian gay social network thoroughly scrutinizes a candidate’s personal data before admitting him as a member. The website has about 1,000 registered users, half of whom live in Armenia.

"The access to the website is limited for security reasons because many people were afraid to place their photos. And we had to create a place where homosexual men could meet safely," said founder Micha Meroujean.

Reason exists for such caution, states one gay young man, who claims that some his friends were badly beaten by unknown assailants after trying to establish contact with an allegedly gay man through an online dating service.

Chances for change appear slim. Said Meroujean, who emigrated from Armenia to Europe to escape mistreatment: "Society’s bad attitude again and again shoves Armenia’s homosexuals into the closet."

Editor's Note: Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan.

Posted March 31, 2010 © Eurasianet

Cher's son Chaz Bono to formally change his name and gender

Musician, writer and activist Chastity Bono (Chaz Bono), son of pop icon of Armenian origin Cher and Sonny Bono, has formally filed a petition to LA judge to change his name and gender. This follows last year's gender reassignment surgery (female to male). Back then Cher issued a statement in support of Chaz: "Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey, but one that I will support," she told PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. "I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of public scrutiny and although I may not understand I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child."

Below is the latest report, via BBC.
Cher's son Chaz Bono files sex change petition in LA

Cher's son Chaz Bono has asked a judge in Los Angeles to formally change his name and gender following the sex change surgery he had last year.

The 41-year-old, who was born Chastity Sun Bono, now wants to be known as Chaz Salvatore, according to a petition filed earlier this week.

He revealed last June he had undergone the surgery calling it "the best decision I've ever made".

At the time, Cher promised to support her child on his "difficult journey".

"Although I may not understand, I will strive to be understanding," said the singer, who had Chastity with her first husband, the late Sonny Bono, in 1969.

A hearing has been scheduled for 6 May in Santa Monica, California.

Chaz Bono is a gay rights campaigner who appeared on the American version of Celebrity Fit Club in 2006.

The name Chastity came from the title of the 1969 film Cher made with her first husband Sonny, who died in a skiing accident in 1998.

Cheating: all the same, or different?

To find out that your loved one was cheating on you, deceiving, living a lie, is always a frustrating, heartbreaking experience. Some may say cheating is cheating regardless of who that person was cheating with. Theoretically, yes.

However... as a gay man, it would be much worse for me if I caught my boyfriend/partner/husband cheating on me with another man, than with a woman. I do not think I will ever forgive him, if it was with another man, but I will probably be more flexible in listening to his ‘explanations’ or considering forgiveness if it was with another woman. [ Don’t take this as granted, future boyfriends! :-) ]

Likewise, I always thought that for a straight woman it’s much worse if she caught her husband cheating with another woman, than with a man. Well, apparently, it’s not (always) the case, at least according to this article in Aravot daily (AM), reportedly based on one Armenian woman’s real-life experience where she says: “There is nothing worse for a woman to see her husband in another man’s arms” [“Յուրաքանչյուր կնոջ համար սեփական ամուսնուն ուրիշ տղամարդու գրկում տեսնելուց ավելի վատ բան չկա”]

Monday 29 March 2010

Ricky Martin comes out: "I am a fortunate homosexual man"

Not that I had any doubts but today Ricky Martin issued a statement on his blog (via link on his Twitter account) where he ends years of speculations re his sexual orientation, and says: "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."
A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life. From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.

For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that's the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It's my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don't ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I'm at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I'm feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.

Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

If someone asked me today, "Ricky, what are you afraid of?" I would answer "the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war...child slavery, terrorism...the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith." But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.


*picture - via Ricky Martin's Twitpic (see also Ricky Martin and his twin son)

Seda Ghazarian Memorial Foundation: article on gay and lesbian teenagers (in Armenian)

Seda Ghazarian Memorial Foundation is a charitable organisation aimed at providing counselling and other support services to socially vulnerable groups in Armenia, including children, teenagers and their family members, persons with disabilities and mental health problems, as well as raising awareness and providing trainings for relevant institutions and individuals, educational initiatives and so on. As part of their activities, the foundation posted number of important educational articles in Armenian, including related to sexual orientation, particularly targeting teenagers and their family members.

Good (content-wise) educational article reflecting some of the problems faced by gay and lesbian teenagers, also providing a brief info on sexuality and sexual orientation. My only criticism would be using few times "ԱՐՎԱՄՈԼ" and "ԻԳԱՑՈՂ" to refer to gays and lesbians in Armenian, although they use it along with "ԳԵՅ" and "ԼԵՍԲԻԱՆ".

Հասունանալը մեծ պահանջներ եւ լարում ենթադրող պրոցես է յուրաքանչյուր դեռահասի համար: Հասունանալու կարեւորագույն կողմերից է սեփական սեռական կողմնորոշումը ձեւավորելը: Բոլոր երեխաները մեծանալու ճանապարհին ունենում են սեռական որոշ փորձ՝ որպես հասունանալու նորմալ գործընթացի մի մաս: Շատ դեռահասների համար նույն սեռի ներկայացուցչի հետ սեռական հարաբերություններ ունենալը մտահոգող է եւ երկմտանք է առաջացնում իրենց սեռական ճիշտ կողմնորոշվածության առումով: Մյուսների համար, անգամ միտքն այդ մասին անհանգստացնող է:

Հոմոսեքսուալիզմը տեւական սեռական եւ հուզական ձգողությունն է նույն սեռի ներկայացուցչի հանդեպ: Սա սեռական արտահայտության ձեւերի մի մասն է: Գեյ (արվամոլ) եւ լեսբիան (իգացող) անձինք իրենց առաջին հոմոսեքսուալ մտքերը, զգացմունքները եւ փորձը ունենում են մանկության եւ դեռահասության շրջանում: Հոմոսեքսուալիզմը գոյություն է ունեցել ողջ պատմության ընթացքում, տարբեր մշակույթներում: Հասարակության վերաբերմունքը հոմոսեքսուալիզմի հանդեպ կարևոր ազդեցություն ունի նրանց հոգեկանի վրա: Կյանքի այլ ոլորտներում նրանք զարգանում են հետերոսեքսուալ երիտասարդների նման: Նրանք ապրում են նույն տիպի սթրեսներ, անցնում են նույնատիպ պայքարի միջով եւ կատարում են նույն առաջադրանքները, ինչ բոլոր դեռահասները:

Ծնողները պետք է հստակ գիտակցեն, որ հոմոսեքսուալիզմը մտավոր խանգարում չէ: Հոմոսեքսուալիզմի պատճառը կամ պատճառները ամբողջովին հայտնի չեն: Այնուամենայնիվ, անձի սեքսուալ կողմնորոշումը ընտրության հարց չէ: Այլ կերպ ասած, անհատը չի կարող ընտրել՝ նա ուզում է դառնալ հոմոսեքսուալ, թե հետերոսեքսուալ: Բոլոր դեռահասներն ունեն իրենց սեռական վարքի եւ կյանքի ոճի ընտրությունը, անկախ իրենց սեռական կողմնորոշվածությունից:

Չնայած գեյ կամ լեսբիան լինելու մասին շատ տեղեկություններին` դեռահասները դեռ կարող են անհանգստություններ ունենալ այդ կապակցությամբ: Օրինակ՝ դեռահասը կարող է՝

*իրեն տարբեր զգալ իր հասակակիցներից
*իրեն մեղավոր զգալ իր սեռական կոմնորոշվածության համար
*վախենալ ընտանիքի եւ սիրած անձնավորության ռեակցիայից
*նրան կարող են ծաղրել հասակակիցները
*վախենալ ՁԻԱՀ-ի, ՄԻԱՎ-ի վարակներից եւ սեռական ճանապարհով փոխանցվող այլ հիվանդություններից
*վախենալ դիսկրիմինացիայից տարբեր խմբակների, սպորտաձեւեի միանալու, ԲՈՒՀ ընդունվելու եւ աշխատանք գտնելու ժամանակ
*մերժվել եւ հալածվել այլ մարդկանց կողմից

Գեյ եւ լեսբիան դեռահասները կարող են մեկուսանալ հասարակությունից, հեռանալ հասարակական գործունեություններից եւ ընկերներից, խնդիրներ ունենալ կողմնորոշվելիս եւ ցածր ինքնագնահատական ձեւավորել: Նրանց մոտ կարող է զարգանալ նաեւ դեպրեսիա: Ծնողները եւ դեռահասին շրջապատող այլ անձինք պետք է ուշադիր լինեն վերոհիշյալ նախանշանների հանդեպ, քանի որ վերջին հետազոտությունները ցույց են տալիս, որ գեյ եւ լեսբիան երիտասարդների շրջանում մեծ թիվ են կազմում ինքնասպանության դեպքերը:

Շատ կարեւոր է, որ ծնողները տեղեկանան և հասկանան իրենց երեխաների սեքսուալ կողմնորոշումը եւ ճիշտ աջակցություն ցույց տան նրանց: Ծնողները հաճախ մեծ դժվարությամբ են ընդունում իրենց երեխայի գեյ կամ լեսբիան լինելը, իսկ դեռահասները ծնողներից թաքցնում են այդ փաստը: Հոմոսեքսուալ դեռահասները պետք է հնարավորություն ունենան ընտրելու, թե երբ եւ ում հետ են նրանք ցանկանում կիսվել իրենց կողմնորոշվածության մասին:

Maral Bavakan: Queer/Armenian, Split Identity


"[...] I have been meeting gay Armenians both in Armenia and in the US and telling myself that my parents cannot use the excuse of my assimilation to American culture as the reason for my rejection of heterosexuality. But it always comes down to that. When I moved out my parents could not understand why I chose to do so even though I felt like I was going mad living at home and leading such a double life. I still live a double life, but there is less anxiety over trying to maintain a lie, a shameful secret, who I have chosen to be, who I have become in this mixture of immigration from Armenia to the United States, from heteronormativity to queerland, from proper, passive woman to activist, feminist, artist. Because I cannot exist in a bubble, I claim an identity as a queer Armenian woman, but those are also secondary.

I would rather not have to be face to face with a system that creates categories to separate people. I cannot chose where I was born and the impact the earth and air of that place has had on me, nor can I chose the effect that living in a female body has had on my spirit and mind, but I should not have to constantly prove how I am woman, or Armenian, or American, or queer, or straight, or artist, or activist, or spiritual. And there are so many of us, immigrants, exiles, who do not fit in a box or live our lives in a linear fashion. I believe we are the ones who can guard the future against decay, standing against its winds, with our very lives, resisting."

Maral Bavakan
Maral is a passionate artist/writer who is in the throes of creating a world in which she and others like herself can live in peace and abundance. When she is in love she believes that this is more and more possible. She is currently attempting to find a room of her own in which to write and complete a memoir/poetry book. Check out her blog at

*/emphasis mine/

Saturday 27 March 2010

P.S. Gay Armenian party in London

Big thanks to everyone for coming to our first gay Armenian party in London and for making it a very pleasant evening, indeed.

I met old friends and quite a few new friends.

Here is hoping for more occasions to come.

If you have ideas for new parties, events etc, please do keep in touch via email (on the right-hand side of this blog).

See you soon ;) x

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Friday 19 March 2010

Homoeroticism in... Soviet cinema

Who knew? ;)

Х/ф "Аттестат зрелости".
Василий Лановой в главной роли.

*Thanks to for the links

Thursday 18 March 2010

Arame at Moscow gay club?

One of the ‘hottest’ news of the last 2 days was the report by Armenia Today (see below) that popular Armenian pop singer Arame performed at one of the Moscow gay clubs for Caucasus gays in Russian capital. If this is true, then good for Arame, as he reportedly got a new army of fans. In past, I posted about Sirusho’s performance at Tel Aviv’s gay club (here and here).

However, my attempts to confirm this info via friends in Moscow were unsuccessful. Main Moscow gay clubs denied that Arame performed there.

P.S. here is Arame's official website:

Армянский певец выступил в московском гей-клубе Armenia Today [16.03.2010 | 15:22] Общество, Армения

Известный армянский певец Арамэ порадовал своим вокалом московское гей сообщество. Как стало известно ARMENIA Today  после выступления в московском клубе «Лондон» Арамэ получил приглашение умаслить слух кавказских гомосексуалистов Москвы в одном из столичных гей-клубов. Двухметровый симпатичный армянин, видимо, настолько поразил голубых своими вокальными данными, что те настояли на проведение специального для них выступления.

Голубые Москвы приняли Арамэ «на ура»!

*picture - via

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Armenia: Hate crime or... Hraparak?

Yesterday A1+ reported on an incident at the Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography: one of the students there - Karlen Abrahamyan - was severely beaten by few fellow students for allegedly girl-involved incident (you know, Karlen made remarks about one girl, and in a typical macho related 'traditional' fashion he got beaten, and pretty severely).
«Ա1+»-ն այսօր ահազանգ է ստացել, որ Երեւանի կինոյի եւ թատրոնի պետական ինստիտուտի (ԵԿԹՊԻ) դերասանառեժիսուրական բաժնի 1-ին կուրսի ուսանող Կառլեն Աբրահամյանը դաժան ծեծի է ենթարկվել:
Մեզ հայտնած տեղեկություններով` Կառլեն Աբրահամյանին ծեծի են ենթարկել նրա համակուրսեցիները` մի աղջկա պատճառով: Ծեծված տղային ուշագնաց վիճակում տեղափոխել են «Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ» բժշկական կենտրոն:
ՀՀ Ոստիկանության լրատվության վարչությունից մեզ տեղեկացրին, որ իսկապես նման դեպք տեղի է ունեցել: Կառլեն Աբրահամյանն ինստիտուտում ծեծի է ենթարկվել մարտի 10-ին ժամը 14:00-ին: Նրան ծեծել են նույն ինստիտուտի ուսանողներ Նարեկ Խ.-ն, Տիգրան Մ.-ն եւ ոմն Հունան:
Ոստիկանությունից հայտնեցին, որ Նարեկ Խ.-ն բերման է ենթարկվել ոստիկանության բաժանմունք, Տիգրան Մ.-ն անձամբ է ներկայացել, իսկ Հունանի անձը պարզելու եւ հայտնաբերելու ուղղությամբ ձեռնարկվել են միջոցառումներ: Այս պահին կատարվում է նախաքննություն:
«Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ» բժշկական կենտրոնի վերակենդանացման բաժնի պետ Գագիկ Մանուկյանն էլ մեզ հետ զրույցում նշեց, որ Կառլեն Աբրահամյանը իրենց մոտ է տեղափոխվել գանգուղեղային տրավմայով: «Հիմա նա գիտակցության էլեմենտ ունի, սակայն նրա մոտ նկատվում է հետտրավմատիկ փսիխոզ, այսինքն` տրավմայից հետո հոգեկան խանգարում: Այժմ սպասում ենք հոգեբույժին, որ գա, կոնսուլտացիա անի, որպեսզի հասկանանք, թե հետագայում ինչ ենք անելու»,- ասաց բժիշկը:

Today Hraparak daily published its 'version' of the incident. According to the newspaper, Karlen is THE guy known in Armenian virtual world as D'orian. And as per Hraparak, the reason for beating was "fight against homosexuals". Well, they mentioned that there is another version of the story involving girl but they made it sound as a secondary version, and headlined the story as 'D'orian was severely beaten' because of ‘advocating freedom of homosexuality’.

According to the reports, Karlen Abrahamyan is in the hospital with craniocerebral (brain) injury.

Whether this was a homophobia related hate crime or not, I do not know, can't be 100% certain until we learn more details. However, most sources so far indicate that it was a girl- involved incident as described by A1+ (above) which is still deplorable, of course.

However, knowing Hraparak's sensationalist and unreliable journalism, unless other sources confirm, I tend not to trust Hraparak. After all, there are reasons why that newspaper is in Homophobia Hall of Shame.

And about D'orian. He is a writer who came under the spotlight when awarded a literary prize by Armenian Ankakh weekly for a gay themed novel. Since then, some in Armenia lost their sleep trying to uncover the identity of a person writing under the pseudonym D'orian. And Hraparak among them. Well, apparently, a disappointing day for Hraparak. As D’orian himself mentioned on his Facebook page, he is not studying at the Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography. His name is not Karlen. In fact, he seemed to be feeling surprisingly well for a person who is “in hospital with cerebrocranial injury”. After reading ‘news’ about himself, he went out to buy a copy of Hraparak so that he will ‘enjoy’ it in full: “գնաց "Հրապարակը" առնելու, որ մի հատ ֆուլով կարդա, թե ոնց են իրան ծեծել...” So much about the reliability of Hraparak. Not that we needed any proof.

On a more serious note, I do hope the law enforcement agencies in Yerevan will conduct a thorough investigation, and those responsible for this act of physical violence, regardless of the reasons, will not escape justice.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Charents (Չարենց)

Happy, birthday, Charents!


Հիմա, լսիր, սկսում եմ իմ ինտիմ
Պոեմն, անհուն, եւ մեղսական, եւ թովիչ:
Սիրում եմ ես, ինչպես գիտես, կոկաին,
Հայտնի եմ ես, որպես անբուժ մորֆինիստ:
Սիրում եմ այլ արհեստական և անհայտ… [մեկ բառ ջնջված է]
Հրապույրներն, ալկոհոլից մինչև հաշիշ…[վերջին բառը ջնջված է և փոխարինված մեկ այլ, անընթեռնելի բառով]
Բայց, ինձ համար լուսե ցնորք է անհաս
Վեշտասնամյա պատանու սերն արևոտ
[ջնջված է, փոխարինված “արեւի”-ո՞վ]
Եվ ոչ մի կին, գեղեցկուհի լինի, թե
Մի տրփուհի աստվածածին կրքերն
Չարժե սիրած մի պատանու մանկատես
Բարով մարմինն, աստվածային ու գերիչ:
Չկա ոչինչ, որ գեղեցիկ լինի, քան
Ոսկեցողուն մարմինը մերկ տղայի,
Տասնևչորսից մինչև տասնհինգ տարեկան,
Արեւագույն, որպես սրինգ, հմայիչ:
Դրանից չէ, որ հնագույն Հոմերից
Մինչև Գյոթե, մինչև Ուայլդ ու Չարենց
[այստեղ նախորդ և հաջորդ հատվածները բաժանված են գծով, հավանաբար` էջի ծալքի հետքն է]
Քանի վսեմ և հանճարեղ մարդ՝
Այդ վայելքին զոհել է կյանք գույք, անուն:
Ամենատես Լեոնարդն է խմել թույն՝
Հալածանքի մրուր, հանուն այդ սիրո,
Վինկելմանն է, էստետն այդ նոր, մեծագույն՝
Մահվել է դրան, խոցված բազում վերքերով:
Եվ վերջապես գեղեցկության ու փառքի
Վերջին արքան և ինքնակալն իսկական
Տվեց թե երգ, թե մեծությունը թե վառ՝
Ուայլդն էր այն ՝ վերջին էստետն՝
Եվ ես՝ մեր խեղճ նաիրյան աշխարհի
Պոետս անօգ՝ անպատմուճան մի արքա.
Իբրեւ վերջին ասպետ՝ սերվածս մարդկային
Հանճարակիր ընտանիքից ահարկու (՞),
Վերջին հելլեն՝ կոմունիզմի այս դարում:
Վերջին էստետ՝ աղբանոցյալ պառնասում՝
[մի բառ ջնջված է, վերևում ավելացված է «պառնասում»]
Վայելեցի սերն այդ՝ [միակ] լույս մի, -
[հաջորդ էջ]
Եվ այրական կիրք՝
Ըմպելով մաղձ, ապա, և սև մի ցասում՝
Անասնական թաբուների կողմից խեղճ,
Արևատենչ ու շնչազ[ուրկ (՞)] այրերի
Որոնք սիրո, գեղեցկության ցոլքի… տեղ
[ջնջված բառ, վերևում անընթեռնելի բառ է ավելացված, որն ավարտվում է -տեղ արմատով ]
Նստուկն են մեծ պաշտում՝ կանանց
Եվ ստինքով՝ ամուսնական անկողնում սեփական
…իներով ամեն գիշեր միասին
Իրար քթի բույրեր են թողնելու
Եվ մերձենում, իբրև երկու ամուսին:
Օ, մարդկային գեղեցկություն ընտանեկան,
Օրինական, թույլատրված «մաքուր» սեր,
Ես բրոնզյա մարմնի մեկ…
[ամբողջ տողը ջնջված է]
Թող վայելի քեզ տեսնելով
Ես պարմանու մարմինն եմ լոկ երազել...


*Ինքնագիր գրական հանդես, No. 5, 2008.

Thursday 11 March 2010

US State Department human rights report: "Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

In past, gay rights were reflected within the US State Department annual human rights country reports very briefly under the "Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination" section (see e.g. 2007 and 2008 reports). In a remarkable shift of policy, this year's report which was published today and reflects 2009, features gay rights much more prominently under the separate section: "Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" This may be the clearest yet indication of shift in Obama administration's policy and that gay rights in the region and elsewhere will be monitored and act upon more seriously.


Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

General societal attitudes towards homosexuality remained highly unfavorable. The country's endorsement of the UN December 2008 statement against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity caused a public outcry and increased the number of negative articles in the media about homosexuals. Society continued largely to view homosexuality as an affliction.

Persons who were openly gay were exempted from military service, purportedly because of concern that they would be abused by fellow servicemen. However, the legal pretext for the exemption was predicated on a medical finding of gays possessing a mental disorder, which was stamped in their documents and could affect their future. During the year there was at least one reported case of a young man, whose homosexuality was revealed during military service, being diagnosed and hospitalized with "homosexuality disease."

According to local human rights activists, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons experienced some of the most humiliating discrimination in prisons, where they were forced to do some of the most degrading jobs and separated from the rest of the prison population.

Societal discrimination based on sexual orientation continued to be a problem with respect to employment, family relations, and access to education and health care for sexual minorities.


Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There are no laws that criminalize sexual orientation, male-to-male sex, or female-to-female sex; however, homosexuality was not widely accepted in society.

There were a few lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) organizations; however, they did not work exclusively as such and instead promoted tolerance more broadly. One reason for this was the strong societal stigma against homosexuality, including its denunciation by the Georgian Orthodox Church. The new public defender (see section 5) stated that among his priorities would be the protection of LGBT groups and individuals, and on July 31, in a debate with another nominee for the post, he said that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was unacceptable.

On December 15, the office of an NGO that promotes LGBT equality was searched by police. Reportedly, officials used antihomosexual slurs, made unnecessary strip searches, unnecessarily damaged organizational posters, and unnecessarily ransacked offices. The Ministry of Internal Affairs denied that any procedural violations took place and maintained that the profile of the organization was irrelevant in terms of the law. The ministry reported that its General Inspection Office gave one officer a reprimand at the "severe" level in accordance with the police code of ethics, as his actions were determined to be nonethical and inappropriate for police officers. Two other officers were also given a reprimand at the "severe" level for not preventing the above-mentioned officer from making the unethical statements.


Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There are no laws criminalizing sexual orientation. There were numerous incidents of police brutality against individuals based on sexual orientation. During the year there were no investigations into or punishments of those responsible for these acts, although this was largely due to victims' unwillingness to file claims due to fear of social stigma. In 2007, after an official complaint was made through the ombudsman's office, two police officers were removed from their positions.

During the year police raided gay bars on four occasions and arrested almost 50 persons. Police reportedly held the individuals and threatened to expose their sexuality publicly unless they paid a bribe. The human rights Ombudsman's Office intervened to resolve the incidents.

One NGO worked on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in the country. This NGO worked to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and provided legal advice, psychological assistance, and outreach activities. The NGO reported no official harassment of its work. There were no attempts to organize gay pride marches during the year; however, there was a small gathering on May 17 to commemorate International Anti-Homophobia Day.

There were no reported deaths during the year due to violence based on sexual orientation. However, domestic violence due to sexual orientation remained a large problem.

The government did not officially condone discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, there was societal prejudice against LGBT persons. While being fired from a job for sexual orientation remained illegal, LGBT individuals reported that employers found other reasons to fire them. Discrimination in access to healthcare was also a problem. In 2008 two transgender individuals died from injuries received from a car accident because physicians at Baku Hospital Number 1 refused to treat them.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Gay Muslims - UK (Channel 4 documentary)

This documentary - Gay Muslims - was first shown on Channel 4 (UK) in January 2006. Thanks to Gay Armenian Lounge Room for the link.

Interview with Melissa Boyajian: "In Between: (re)Negotiating Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality"

Via Queering Yerevan, interview with Melissa Boyajian, Armenian artist from Boston who featured In Between: (re)Negotiating Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality at the Allegheny College Art Galleries.
Melissa Boyajian

Odalisque for Said, 2006
Image courtesy of the artist

(for full interview, follow the links above):

VG: Why did you use a beard in this image and not a mustache?

MB: I don't know if I am being too simple saying that I was working with the idea of the 'bearded lady.' The beard did not signify anything religious or anything from Bear culture. The bearded lady, however, aside from being a subject of laughter, ridicule or "schizonphrenic" subject with "gender confusion" problems, is also an individual pushing the boundaries of gender and normality that is appreciated in the queer community. Such as circus entertainer, writer and bearded lady Jennifer Miller.
VG: Do you see gender as binary?

MB: I see gender as performative and fluid, no binary at all.

[...] I have a group of gay friends in Armenia anyway. So I have different identities for different cultures. I go to Armenia every few years. My work also deals with this -- with the sexism and homophobia in Armenian culture.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Great news: gay marriage becomes legal in Washington!!

*via The New York Times

picture - by Alex Wong/Getty Images - Jonathan Howard, above left, and Gregory Jones applied for a marriage license on Wednesday in Washington

[...] “This is a dream come true,” said Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, as she smiled ear to ear and held up her ticket indicating she was first in line with her partner of 12 years, Angelisa Young, 47. “We wanted it so bad.”

Gay rights advocates hailed the day as a milestone for equal rights and a symbolic victory as same-sex marriage became legal in the nation’s capital.

Washington is now the sixth place in the nation where same-sex marriages can take place. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [...]

The new law was already having regional implications.

Maryland’s attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, issued a legal opinion last week concluding that Maryland should immediately recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. [...]

Because of a mandatory waiting period, couples will not be able to marry in the city until Tuesday.

City officials say the measure will also provide a financial boost to the local economy. A study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, predicted that more than 14,000 same-sex marriages would occur in the city over the next three years, which would bring in $5 million in new tax revenue and create 700 jobs.

Armenia's European orientation: 'Armenia is Europe and committed to European values' (president)

Those values explicitly imply respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens of European countries, including LGBT people.

Remember this quote!!... and use it...

“We consider ourselves to be Europeans,” Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as telling Martens. “We are seeking to live by the rules of that [European] family, the value system espoused by it, and in this regard, our orientation is very obvious.”

- says Armenia president Serj Sargsyan,

*In Armenian:

"Մենք մեզ համարում ենք եվրոպացիներ,ձգտում ենք ապրել այդ ընտանիքի կանոններով, նրանց դավանած արժեքային համակարգով եւ այս առումով մեր ուղղությունը շատ ակնհայտ է"

Հայաստանի Հանրապետության նախագահ Սերժ Սարգսյան (

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Mark your diary: gay Armenian party in London - Fri 26 March

There will be no programme, no formality, just a space, us, (hopefully) good mood, and an opportunity to make new friends.

Whether you decide to come alone or with a friend(s), boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, it’s all OK. Enter the venue, go to the basement bar area (they call it ‘Village underground’). Notice Armenian faces or voices? Don’t be shy. Join in.

Below is a message from those who believe that time has come for the first ever gay Armenian party in London. I personally know them. I trust them. They have my support.
"It's been a long time waiting. We thought it's time for us to socialise and get to know each other. So we'd like to invite you for the first ever gay Armenian party in London.
Please, join us for a night of socialising, cocktails, networking and friends at this central London venue - basement, Village Soho on 26 March 2010, 9 pm.
We hope you could make it.
You are welcome to bring your friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and partners.
Please, RSVP with your names or nicknames."
To RSVP, please visit Gay Armenian party in London. Ignore mentioning of “poll” there (it’s just a Doodle thing).

Mark your diary: Friday 26 March, 9pm, Village (basement), Soho, London. (Free entry; no dress code; general venue entry policies apply)

81 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QD
*venue website (and pictures)

Monday 1 March 2010

Մերը և իմը… ('Our/Mine') - new gay Armenian blog (AM)

I'd like to introduce this new gay Armenian blog (in Armenian) - Մերը և իմը… ('Our/Mine'):

"Երբ անգրագիտությունը բախվում է տգիտությանը, երբ տգետն անգրագետին ցանկանում և փորձում է ինչ-որ բան բացատրել կամ սովորեցնել… արդյունքներն ահավոր են: Օգնում ենք անգրագետներին և պայքարում ենք տգիտության դեմ:"

Welcome to blogosphere!!