For those who don’t know, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a local Yerevan bar early morning on May 8. Luckily the bar, DIY, was closed and there was no one inside at the time. Two Iranian-Armenian brothers, 19 and 20 years of age, have since confessed to committing the crime. The word around town is that these two men are part of a larger network of fascist groups who have been hostile and entered into confrontations with staff and owners of other bars perceived to be gay friendly and “alternative” and this (combined with the knowledge that one of the bar’s owners had performed at gay pride festivities in Istanbul, Turkey, last year) was their motive for bombing the bar.
(CCTV footage of attack)
In actual fact, a lot is unclear, but one thing is for certain: hate crime is on the rise.
DIY — that was our safe space. And now we don’t even have that anymore.
What we have instead is a culture of fear. While there has been an outpouring of support for the DIY team and a call to stand up against the neo-nazis and fascists in the country (with slogans such as “No to Fascism” and “Your bombs do not affect us”), I am concerned for those of us who are not as vocal but visible. Good friends of mine, LGBT-identified activists, are afraid — for themselves, but also for their family members and loved ones.
And, I hate myself for thinking this, but at times like these I can’t help but wonder why some of the more outspoken LGBT activists and queer allies had to raise their voices, draw attention to themselves/ourselves, wishing now that they lay low and not provoke other possible acts of violence. And I know I’m not the only one thinking this. Because now we’re in the spotlight and the wayward glances I get every day any way have taken on a whole new meaning.
However, another part of me says “No! We should not stay silent.” In fact, now more than ever, we should stand up and say you will not silence us, your acts of violence do not scare us. Is there a way to do this without endangering our queer brothers and sisters and possibly their families too? Is now the time to be “loud and proud” or to step back (if only momentarily) in consideration of the safety of others?
More information (including photos and other video footage) here: