BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The firebombing of a bar in Yerevan earlier this month has set off quite a firestorm throughout the Armenian nation. The news reports about this tragedy and the articles commenting on the whole mess have garnered hundreds of postings in the on-line universe. The most I’d ever noticed before was about a hundred. The reason for all the fuss is that the bar was targeted because it is known as a hangout for Yerevan’s gay community (and, I’m told, many other activist members of society). Two young men are evidently responsible. They were bailed out by two ARF members of some standing, who made comments supportive of the reason for the crime, which has created the impression that the party supported the action (it does not and has said so). Subsequently, earlier this week, a Diversity Day event drew a counter demonstration under the erroneous impression that it was some kind of “gay rally”.
There have been harsh exchanges of opinion on this matter in the postings I mentioned above. The time for that fire is past. We must approach this with ice in our veins.
Firebombing a place because gays hang out there is wrong, both because it is a criminal act and because every human being is entitled to the same rights and security as any other. Period. Some have even argued, de facto, that was OK to do that because the owner had a picture of Ataturk hanging on the bar wall. Poppycock! That would be cause for me not to patronize the establishment, to create a stir over the issue, or maybe even tear down the picture, but not to torch the place.
But, stating this is insufficient. It is the reality that many Armenians are not well informed on matters involving the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) community. In this article, I will use the shorthand “gay” to cover this all. For a various reasons, gay-related “issues” have not been something we have dealt with head on, be it in the Diaspora or Armenia. This unfortunate series of events and utterances have opened a door for us to confront the matter.
Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding is where being gay comes from. Many seem to think it is a choice that a person makes. It is not, overwhelmingly. One is born, not bred, to be gay. As one gay friend said to me, “Yeah, right, I’m going to choose to be part of a despised minority”. This is plain biological fact. Further proof of this is that homosexual behavior occurs among other members of the animal kingdom as well. Humans are not alone.
With that established, we should be able to address what I suspect is the greatest underlying fear among many people: “My kids will see this/learn about and become gay”. That’s just not going to happen. Once we understand and appreciate this, then “live and let live” becomes easy to do. There has also been, perhaps unavoidably, discussion of “gay marriage”. Interestingly, this is perhaps the best proof that being gay is not learned. If it was, then the children of such same-gender-parent families should all turn out gay, but, they don’t.
Our response to gays should be the same as it is to any group of people that are born different from the majority: geniuses, “Aspies” (those who have Asperger’s Sybdrome- a mild form of autism), super-athletes, and even religious people (there is a difference in the brains of those who tend to be strong believers).
Let’s not discriminate against members of our own people. Instead, let’s be welcoming of all who want to participate in the life of our nation, in the homeland and Diaspora.
As I promised last week, below is a “cheat sheet” of my election recommendations. But, I also have to add a three points:
1. Those living in Danny Tarkanian’s Congressional District in Nevada Should get out and vote for him in that state’s June 12 primary.
2. In California’s 26th congressional district, it’s come to my attention that Parks has been subjected to smear tactics unbecoming of Brownley.
3. In California’s 30th congressional district, I made a mistake in my piece last week (since corrected in the online version). The rationale for my recommendation was as I wanted, but I wrote the wrong candidate’s name to vote for. It should have been Berman.
Garen’s Election Cheat Sheet
President of the U.S.
Democratic: Do not vote for President Obama
Republican: Doesn’t matter, Mitt Romney gets nominated
Other parties: No recommendations
Party Central Committees
26th District: Linda Parks or Julia Brownley
28th District: Adam Schiff
30th District: Howard Berman
25th District: Carol Liu
Member of the State Assembly
41st District: Michael Cacciotti
43rd District: Greg Krikorian
46th District: Adrin Nazarian
Office N. 114:Berj Parseghian
County (Los Angeles)
5th District: Michael Antonovich
Other Districts: incumbents running unopposed
Prop 28: YES
Prop 29: YES
Prop 28: YES
Prop 29: YES