This year I flew from Yerevan to Istanbul to take part in pride week for the first time . There are a few reasons why I did this and why it was so important to me. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable about my sexuality and I wanted to celebrate that. Unfortunately, I live in a country where pride marches are considered death traps. So what’s a queer girl to do? Fly to Istanbul. Istanbul was not just a place where I can partake in pride week but also a place where I have roots - a place where I feel a sense of belonging.
Being queer is something that I am proud of and that is something to be celebrated - especially in a world where homosexuality is still a crime in 76 countries. Living in Armenia as a queer person, I came across a lot of homophobia (both conscious and unconscious) and witnessed people hide and often deny their sexuality.
So to be able to get away from that - even for just a week - and be in an environment where different sexualities are celebrated, is like coming up for air after holding your breath underwater for so long.
Although I’m speaking about my personal experience here, LGBT pride is not just a personal thing. It’s not an excuse for same sex couples to make out in public. It is a day, a week, to explore our identities, learn more about LGBT history and politics (which is ignored), to remember and honor those who have died for the cause, and to look ahead as we continue the struggle for our rights.
It takes a lot of time and hard work to get to a point where LGBT folks can organize a pride march in their country and I hope I’m around to see it happen in Armenia one day.