Friday 26 May 2017

History in making: first LGBT-themed scrolling billboards in Armenia capital Yerevan

UPDATE 27 May 2017: Yerevan city hall, i.e. ruling Republican party mayor, ordered removal of LGBT-themed posters from scroller billboards, citing that they were not "authorised" by them. Aside from questionable legality of this claim, by ordering removal of these posters, Yerevan mayor blatantly endorsed discrimination against LGBT people. On the same day, so called "Europe Day" was celebrated in the Armenian capital. Truly, a city hall of shame.

The fact that these social ad posters were on display for 2 days is an achievement in itself by LGBT activists in Armenia. Queering of public spaces continues.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Armenia consistently ranks towards the very bottom of European gay rights league tables. Still, despite all the challenges, local LGBT activists keep on queering the public spaces. The process that moved to yet another level today.

The sight of LGBT-themed social ad posters across three scrollers in downtown Yerevan, around Opera and Swan Lake, is absolutely awesome. They are supposed to stay there for 1 month.

So well done, PINK Armenia. Truly, a history in making.

The messages on posters say:

1.Դու ուզու՞մ ես, որ բոլորը երջանիկ լինեն, ուրեմն մաղթիր մեզ երջանկություն։ [‘Do you want everyone to be happy? Then wish us happiness’]

2.Դուք հանդիպում եք նրանց ամեն օր։ [‘You meet them every day’]

3.Տրանս անձինք մեր հասարակության մասն են։ [‘Trans people are part of our society’]

Related videos were circulated by PINK Armenia as part of IDAHOT week*: 


*Videos and posters have been produced by Action Studio and Deem Communication, in cooperation with Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO (PINK) and the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, through the EU-funded project “Solidarity Network for LGBTI Individuals in Armenia and Georgia”.

Saturday 20 May 2017

Meanwhile in Yerevan…

Rainbow Pace flag (Italian for peace) in Yerevan. So casual. So epic considering the circumstances.

Pace da tutti i balconi ("peace from every balcony”) Armenian way.

… vs. all the hysteria on Armenian social media surrounding the sight of rainbow flag at the British embassy.

And the saddest protest action I ever witnessed in Armenia (see the priceless picture below, via

*in front of the British embassy in Yerevan: "stop gay propaganda, we are tired of it" with 3 exclamation marks - you can't make this stuff up. It’s Armenia, baby, the land of gay propaganda, apparently, so very tiring to resist, I feel for you, guys *3 exclamation marks*

Thursday 18 May 2017

British embassy in Yerevan raised rainbow flag to mark IDAHOT + more news from South Caucasus

For the first time ever, British embassy in Yerevan raised the rainbow flag to mark IDAHOT - the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

To see the rainbow flag proudly waving in the very heart of Armenia capital, even though by a foreign country, is pretty historic.

Big respects to the UK Embassy in Yerevan. It’s an important act of solidarity with local LGBT activists.

And of course, all the usual suspects on Armenian Facebook and beyond were in a state of total agony at a sight of the rainbow flag.

I hope this will become a tradition and more embassies in Armenia will follow suit.

But more significantly and importantly, I wish THE day will come when I will see the rainbow flag waving openly at local venues, institutions, groups...

Btw, British embassy in Baku has joined embassies around the world in flying the rainbow flag.

In Tbilisi, embassy posted a picture with the British ambassador holding the rainbow flag to accompany their IDAHOT message.

In other important developments from the South Caucasus, brave LGBT activists in Tbilisi managed to hold an IDAHOT rally which reportedly passed without major incidents, although not without reports of physical assault.

Great coverage by OC media here: Queer rights activists mark 17 May in Tbilisi under heavy police presence; Church takes to streets

And awesome PINK Armenia unveiled their calendar of events to mark IDAHOT.

In a related development, while not as radical as British, the US embassy in Yerevan changed their Facebook cover photo to the rainbow flag for the occasion (great move!), and posted a message marking IDAHOT.

Friday 5 May 2017

Eurovision 2017 - South Caucasus in Kyiv

UPDATE Friday 12 May 2017: Armenia's Artsvik did quite a good job during the first semi-final. She definitely pulled it off live on stage, and the song has grown on me. Watching her live, I've changed my opinion about the choice of song as she made it fit her vocals quite nicely.
Azerbaijan was not as good during the first semi, as I expected, and Georgia predictably did not reach the final.

There was another Armenian performing during the first semi-final: Hovig from Cyprus. He was pretty good too and passed through to the final. Quite an 'Armenian Eurovision' the show turned into.

And finally, the identity of those hot guys on the picture below revealed. They are the dancers on stage during Greece performance. You are welcome :))

First of all, this picture. Because I like it. The message. The visuals.

*posted by official Eurovision Twitter account: "It's all about celebrating love and diversity at #Eurovision". Quite a package, one might say :))

Now back to the main topic of this post.

All three South Caucasus countries represented by female leads.

The most interesting is Dihaj from Azerbaijan. They represent alternative music/art scene of the country. I have to say I like their image more than the song which is mainstream-ed to appeal to broader Eurovision audience. Still, the theme of Skeletons is not boring and they have a potential of interesting stage presentation, as was evidenced by videos from the rehearsals.

And Nigar, Copenhagen based Azeri artist, who participates in their videos is pretty hot. For more pics & info re the band see here.

Artsvik will represent Armenia. During Eurovision national preselection I was supportive of her because she had a potential with her vocal range (out of choices on offer, that is) but she needed a suitable song. And here comes the problem. The song they’ve chosen doesn't fit well with Artsvik’s vocals. The music video is very weird and as such memorable, visually could do better on stage. But the song is not a 'sing-able' song. It is not something I would listen to without seeing it or sing-a-long to. It’s instantly forgettable, song-wise.

Georgia's entry is seemingly the safest choice, ticking the most Eurovision ‘tick boxes’, beautiful singer, pleasant voice, a ballad. But overall it is not very memorable and a little bit boring.

I haven't seen most of other Eurovision entries yet, so can't say how strong or weak South Caucasus entries are compared to others. Suffice to note, I hardly see a winner of the Eurovision 2017 among South Caucasus countries. Still, exciting week ahead, with potentially some memorable presentations on stage.

In the meantime, enjoy this non-Eurovision video by Dihaj.