GALAS Blasts Glendale Armenian American Homophobia

A recent “Day of Silence” at Glendale’s Hoover High School was an act of unity with schools across the country to call attention to how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are “silenced” by harassment and bullying in schools. The event took place on April 25 and many prominent members of Glendale, including Glendale News Press Armenian American columnist Patrick Azadian, supported the action.

Unfortunately some people, including many Armenian Americans, objected to the protest and one confused individual named Martik Abramian wrote a letter to the Glendale News Press newspaper saying:

Don’t be fooled by the Day of Silence, which is a cover-up and in reality is to promote homosexuality. We need to have a day of awareness instead of a Day of Silence and teach students about the dangers of homosexual life and its destructive consequences.

LA’s Daily News reported that:

The flap at Hoover High began after some local cable-access shows implied that by attending school on the “National Day of Silence” today, students would be supporting a “homosexual agenda.” [Inexplicably, the article is no longer on the newspaper’s website but he have cached it here: Day of Silence Creates Flap at Hoover High – LA Daily News.]

In today’s Glendale News Press, the president of the Gay & Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) in Los Angeles, California, Haig Boyajian, takes to task the usually unchallenged Armenian American homophobia of Martik Abramian and others (for instance Naira Khachatrian as quoted in an article by Dan Kimber). GALAS’ response was powerful and here’s an excerpt:

We want to state unequivocally that the handful of Armenian parents who were vitriolic in their opposition to the Day of Silence do not represent the entire Armenian community. The members of the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles and our many supportive family members and friends belong to the Glendale and Los Angeles Armenian communities, and we all believe that there can be no tolerance for bullying and harassment of any student, regardless of his or her sexual orientation.

We condemn the homophobic comments that were aired on a recent Armenian television program. They were irresponsible since such speech can cause disastrous consequences for children, who might go so far as to commit suicide or substance abuse as a result of rejection from their families.

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles is saddened to see that some Armenians are unable to see the parallels between racial and sexual orientation discrimination. We come from a culture that is, sadly, too familiar with what can happen when one group is ostracized and discriminated against. However, we have hope for the future that springs from the students who courageously organized and participated in the Day of Silence event, especially given the sometimes hostile response it has received in the community. And, we are proud and encouraged that some of the participants in Day of Silence were Armenian.

We call upon our fellow Armenian brothers and sisters to support tolerance, the local school districts, and most importantly our children. We must all raise our voices against hate and misunderstanding and support valuable programs like Day of Silence that can make a positive difference.

Read the whole wonderful Op-Ed piece here.

Congratulations to our LGBT brothers and sisters in Southern California for standing up to what has until now been the overwhelming silence to homophobia and heterosexism in the Armenian American community. You have AGLA NY’s complete support!

Photo by Ryan Jesena

3 thoughts on “GALAS Blasts Glendale Armenian American Homophobia

  1. […] on its blog, The Armenian Gay & Lesbian Association of New York reports on a recent anti-homophobic event at a Glendale school and the ensuing battle of words that … between ethnic Armenians living in the United States. Posted by Onnik Krikorian Share […]

  2. Arron Lam May 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm Reply

    If only more people would hear this..

  3. Guy G. Cenname July 26, 2010 at 5:17 am Reply

    Barev Inch-speces my friends from Los Angeles, CA. 90027.

    After reading your article regarding the “DAY OF SILENCE”, which took place on April 25, in Glendale, I thought that it was very interesting, and quite true to what I read.

    I was born in Italy in 1964 in a small town on the (EAST) Adriatic Sea side, and came to the US in 1966 because of adoption.

    Growing up as a young GAY person, I always had to hide my sexuality from everone, because of the constant teasing and bulling from my fellow students at the schools that I attended over the years. It took a long time to be able to come out to my family and friends, so I know what these young kids go through, and it’s a damn shame. However during my time, it was much more difficult to live with compaired to how it is today. I feel that the general population has become more tolerant than when I was growing up. But even today, in countries that see homosexuality as a threat, a sickness, or whatever the case may be, it’s not accepted for the fears that have been placed on the word of Gay, Queer, or Homosexual etc.etc. For example, as we know, there are a countless number of homosexuals that live in societies that live a good life. They don’t bother anybody, they don’t steal, commit crimes, and contribute to life. But because they are classified as Homosexuals or whathave you, they can be looked down upon and get treated unfairly by those that see them as a threat, and then they get delt with my those that think killing a homosexual is the solution to getting rid of those that are different.

    I have a good set of close friends that are from Yerevan, Armenia and they have known about me since about 3 or more years ago. We get along fantasticly and the key to the way were are with one another, is all about respect for each other. One of my friends is an “ahpe” to me and he is straight. He lives with me in my 2 bedroom condo and he knows that I’ll never make the
    “move” on him for there is that level of trust.

    For these youngsters that are “in the closet” I know that it’s not easy. But in time as they get older, living as a gay person will become easier and possitive things could happen for them.

    Someday, I would love to see many people come together and see that there is a beauty in everyone that needs to be shared. Just because there are those that are different in many eyes, they are just the same as everyone else, and capable of sharing love and compasion for one another.

    I have been in the US Military, and have worked for the past 19 years in the American Red Cross helping to save countless numbers of lives everyday while on the job. I have kept my life constructive and it’s not been destructive in anyway. And as a gay male, I am normal as the next persons near or around me. There are things that I do regret, and unfortunately its too late to change what I can’t change to make it better. But I live with it and it’s not hurting anyone in anyway. As we say, “THAT”S LIFE”.

    I would also like to let these young people know that they should be proud of who they are, no matter what anybody says or does. And I support them!!!

    Thank you.

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