After New Year’s last year, I decided to come out to my parents as a lesbian. I had already revealed my preferences to a few friends both in and out of my AYF chapter; however, it was still a subject that I needed to discuss with my parents. Envisioning my parents’ refusal to accept me for who I am was the main obstacle in figuring out how to talk to them. But immediately after telling them, they assured me that they would fully support who I am, and that, regardless of anything else, they would always be there for me.
While I am lucky to have accepting parents, for most Armenian teenagers the pressures of being lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender are awfully intimidating. Affirming my identity as a lesbian Armenian teenager was not easy. You might assume that being born in Armenia, growing up in an Armenian family, and molding to the strict customs of our people would have affected my decision to openly express my sexuality, but it didn’t. The bonds that Armenians share with each other are like no other. We should remember that these bonds create life-long friendships with those who are willing to help us through anything. For me, many of these connections were made through my AYF chapter. Having amazing family and friends who support me are what has helped me the most. I have finally accepted who I am and no longer try to portray someone that I am not.
Being a lesbian Armenian teenager is definitely a challenge, and is something that is not fully supported by enough Armenians. The bombing of the LGBT-friendly bar and subsequent protests in Armenia showed the lack of support towards the LGBT community among Armenians. But just because there is a lack of support in Armenia doesn’t mean we have to be influenced by that, and not support them in our own AYF chapters.
I was born in Armenia, and I think about the fact that if I went back and openly expressed my sexuality, my actions would be frowned upon and discouraged. More importantly, I would feel like I didn’t belong in the one place that I’m supposed to feel at home. Our motherland should be a place where all Armenians are welcome, regardless of sexual preference. Just because I am a lesbian and am open about it doesn’t mean I am different than anyone else here in the U.S. or in Armenia.