Thursday 24 July 2014

Armenian Chronicles: "If you are an LGBT Armenian, speak up"

Good to see growing number of LGBT Armenians in Diaspora who speak up and make a stand.

*via Armenian Chronicles

Growing up in an Armenian household was not easy for me...for the obvious reasons. As a gay Armenian man, I often feel that I do not have an outlet to properly express myself. While there are certainly exceptions, the Armenian society at large turns a blind eye to the reality that there are LGBT Armenians all around them.

I often wonder just how many of the Armenians that I have met were gay, but were in hiding. Perhaps due to unrealistic expectations, many LGBT Armenians remain in the closet, mostly to the detriment of their well-being. LGBT Armenians are often reserved and do not make a stand on the matter. I have always been one of those quiet, brooding types – no more.

While I have watched non-Armenian gay friends live happy, fulfilling lives out in the open, I have sat on the sidelines. Why shouldn't I aim for the same sort of life? I, for one, have thus far only come out to cousins and friends, but not the elders. Well, the cat's out of the bag, huh? [...]

While I cannot necessarily speak for the Armenian society at large, I can draw inferences based off the community in the greater Los Angeles area. Many Armenians – the traditional ones, anyway– have ingrained notions of heteronormativity. To them, any deviation from the norm is an aberration and to be denounced. Every Armenian man is expected to marry a nice Armenian woman, whether or not they actually want to. Then, the woman in this relationship is expected to bear grandchildren and be happy about it. This culture propagates a “one size fits all” mentality that everyone will do what their parents did, ad infinitum. [...]

The intersection of Armenian society and LGBT culture is a complicated one. I felt compelled to become more open and true to myself after attending this year's LA Pride, where I came across a booth promoting GALAS – the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society. It felt good to see fellow gay Armenians speaking freely about who they are. I was doubly proud that day – as a gay man, and as an Armenian. Admittedly, I am not a member of GALAS, but they have inspired me to be more open in my life.

If you are an LGBT Armenian, speak up; we're here to listen. No matter how often your aunt pesters you about “not having a girlfriend” or “settling down and having babies,” know this: you are who you are, and there's no changing that. Take pride in yourself, in your identity, and your heritage. If you are an ally, we thank you. If you are a bigot, I hope that one day you will realize that your words can leave behind irreversible emotional damage. Put aside your petty issues, stop perpetuating hatred, and learn to love your fellow Armenians.

"Red Dress" LGBT-themed Georgian short film

This film is produced by Identoba - Georgian LGBT rights group, based in Tbilisi. Via personal story it reflects events last year when homophobic mob, led by Georgian orthodox church priests, attacked LGBT rights activists in Georgian capital Tbilisi, marking IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia).

*thanks to @Tabagari for the link

Monday 21 July 2014

Yerevan Diaries: downtown bar with safe sex message

*"Use of condoms is the best method to prevent AIDS and other STDs" - reads this educational message in one of downtown Yerevan bars