Queer Arab magazine Bekhsoos by the amazing folks at Meem, a group of lesbian, bisexual, queer and questioning women and transgender persons in Lebanon, published a correspondence between two queer Lebanese-Armenian women who talk about their identity and the Armenian Genocide.
Here it is, respectfully republished, below (thanks to Unzipped: Gay Armenia where I first found out about this correspondence).
P.S. I know Shant personally, albeit virtually, and apart from being a feminist and a warm, genuine person, she’s also a great filmmaker and artist
When I first realized I was queer, it wasn’t anything shocking for me as I was always the minority of some other minority.
My first cause ever was the Armenian genocide and I held on to it like someone holds on to their dear life. The idea that another group wanted to erase something very essential in my being and eradicate it was enough for me to want to resist.
It’s not easy to know that someone wants you to no longer exist.
So when I look around now and I think of the homophobia and the people who want to eradicate us because for them we are a disease, it’s not something new. When I think of all the gendercide and how a lot of our societies break women and burry their existence in petty beliefs, it’s not something new.
I am a queer Armenian Lebanese woman; a half-breed to add to that and this is the essence of my survival. For 95 years our people have been screaming for justice and we will keep on shouting and screaming even when the dearest feminists shout back but who cars about this now? How is it relevant to our cause?
I want to tell you how relevant it is. It is relevant because it is my cause and I am a feminist and it’s a human cause.
It is relevant because its Darfur and Gaza, it is relevant because when we got here we were thrown in camps and orphanages and built our lives from rubbles, it is relevant because women were raped and killed and children sold, it is relevant because justice has not been restored. And you know, when justice is not restored the whole order of your world crumbles. You ask me why I still want them to utter words or recognition? Because I want to be in peace, I want to believe in the good order of the universe, I want to know that the good prevails that there is hope. This is why I fight as a feminist, this is why I fight as a queer, it is why I choose these battles where small victories fuel me with hope
and I think of bigger ones.
Imagine you had 5 more years, only five years to prove that you’ve been raped and beaten, your land stolen. You had five years and you show humanity proof and ask for justice to be made and you know that once those five years go by, humanity’s corrupt system will erase your trauma from its history and move on. You are silenced and mute and your rapist still wandering out there. What would you do? We have 5 more years and then it’s the centenary and after that according to international laws our cause is a lost one. Wonderful example to give to states like Israel, practicing apartheid.
You already know, I relate to everything said in your e-mail.
I have always been a part of a minority, ever since I was born.
As I discovered more and more about myself, I became a minority of a minority and it has always been a struggle.
A struggle mainly for my rights. For my rights as an Armenian living in Lebanon, as a Woman, and as a Queer.
A struggle for belonging.. I was born in Lebanon but let’s face it, do I really belong here? It doesn’t really feel like it since I have always been pointed out as The Armenian among the Lebanese. It doesn’t really feel like it since el 3arabeh taba3 el arman mkassar, since we have a different culture and different traditions.
The next question would be. Do I belong in Armenia? Here… This breaks my heart. I don’t even belong in Armenia, because I am only a tourist there. A tourist that doesn’t even speak the same language as the Armenians there.
I have heard so much about Armenians since I was in school by my teachers, my parents, and my grandmothers. I have heard so many stories about my own family, about my own grandfather and my great grandfather and grandmother.
What do I do with all that? Get over it? Let it go?
It has become a part of me. A part of my core being.
It is in the blood.
What I find messed up is how countries like The United States or the European union use the Genocide as some joker card against Turkey. They don’t care about the recognition, they hold on to that card so that they can have political stances and gains. The U.S. gets to have army bases and fly into Iraq from over Turkey and the E.U. uses it to stop Turkey from getting in its sphere. And our history relies on their twisted politics.
We fight every day for our rights as queers. We want justice, we want acknowledgement.
We get frustrated and irritated. We go insane when we hear about all the queers and transgendered people that have been murdered.
All this blood spilled… Who could really get over it? Who could really accept it in the first place?
Hate, denial of our existence and their desire to annihilate us…
It’s something none of us should shut up about.
The Armenian cause is so close to all the other causes we believe in and fight for.
You don’t have to necessarily be an Armenian to feel this… You just have to be human.
And there is a big difference between human and “human”.