The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society Applauds Screenings of LGBT-Themed Films at ARPA

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that “provides outreach and promote the equality of LGBTQ Armenians within the larger community,” released an op-ed applauding ARPA International Film Festival’s screening of the films “Listen to Me” and “Apricot Groves” last weekend.

A still from “Apricot Groves” (Photo: Three Gardens Film)

The screenings occurred after the two films, which contain LGBT themes, were slashed from the 2017 program for the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival in July. Lousine Shamamian, who authored the op-ed, chastised organizers of the Golden Apricot in her letter for self-censoring their program, arguing that when they did so, they “squandered the opportunity to participate in one of the most meaningful traditions of filmmaking: being a catalyzing force for social change.”

The statement compared organizers’ censorship to the historic repression Armenians experienced as residents of the Ottoman Empire. “As Armenians, we know all too well what it means to be censored,” it read. “Having lived in our native land of Anatolia for so many centuries, many of those as minorities ruled by unforgiving empires, we know the delicate intricacies of conforming in order not to raise the ire of the dominant power.”

Though it expressed some empathy for the organizers’ decision, stating that “the resistance from the broader Armenian community stems from centuries of needing to assimilate and avoid being a target,” it didn’t elaborate on the more imminent threat of violence that those in the gay community face in Armenia.

In 2016, gay rights advocate and PINK Armenia representative Kyle Khandikian reported for the Armenian Weekly that 86.6% of respondents to a survey in Armenia “strongly agree” that homosexuality should be outlawed. The most notorious manifestation of such negative attitudes took place in 2012, when Armine “Tsomak” Oganesova’s bar, DIY, was firebombed by a “group of ultranationalists.”

Shamamian concluded the statement by reiterating GALAS’s approval of the screenings by ARPA organizers, hinting that the Golden Apricot Festival could “redeem itself” by adding the two films on next year’s roster and “celebrate the essential duty of all Armenians to respect one another’s humanity. We as a people need more films like these, not fewer.”


  1. Fine, but please:

    1. No LGBT propaganda whatsoever for children in Armenia and Artsakh.
    2. No crazy transgender bathroom and locker room stuff.
    3. No drag queens in Armenian schools (see Dragqueenstoryhour dot org)
    4. No telling small children that they can be any sex they want.
    5. No same sex marriage in Armenia.
    6. No homosexual books in Armenian schools.
    6. No thinking that just because the US, Europe, and Israel are into this LGBT stuff that Armenia has to therefore adopt it. Think, don’t copy.
    7. Soros would love to destroy Armenian society with LGBT propaganda.

    • Too late. Our church is “running scared” while foreign “religions” and “moral ideals” are being imported to Armenia, the worst part, headed by our very own diaspora. Just like happened in the USA, once the door cracks open, the ‘social justice warrior’ posse will burst through in force at some point in the future, when the given society’s morals degrades enough to a point when no one will notice, nor care. If one of our leaders, institutions, or movements doesn’t put a stop to this assault outright, all of your concerns, and worse, will come true at one point in Armenia’s future.

  2. For those who use God, Jesus, or Christianity as their justification to judge LGBT individuals:
    You do not own claim to religion or Christianity.  Jesus did not judge his neighbors.  He died for OUR collective sins.  Under Christianity,  we are all sinners.  Before you judge the spec in your neighbor’s eye,  look at the plank in your own.  The point of Christ wasn’t to sit and judge his neighbors, but to love and treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.  Please do not hide your hate, judgement, or lack of compassion under the guise of Christ or religion.  If you are Christian, let this not get lost on you:

    James 4:11-12
    Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?

    • Same old tired tactic or trying to use supposedly “reverse psychology”. Are you a brother or a sister? According to the Bible passage, that is a fellow believer in God and the Bible, not your average everyday LQBTQYZ with a political agenda which you can take out of context any way you like in order to fit your own moral code. And if only God can ‘judge’ you, then it is not you being judged, it is your actions. The concept of “judgment” is used time and again incorrectly to silence any criticism and twist things around. You are impressing no one here with your Bible knowledge.

      If you’re gay, be gay in your own privacy and keep your politics out of our nation and culture. In western societies, homosexuals are not being oppressed, and this includes even in semi-western ones like Armenia. But there is something to be said about those same ones who have placed a traditional religious society under assault in order to facilitate a ‘change’ that would meet their vision of a “morality” which just happens to contradict the one they are trying to change. That’s better known as an invasion, attack and assault on our culture’s traditional values. You don’t like it? Stay where you are and fight for ‘human rights’.

      ps: I will set religion aside, and state that LGBTQYZ propaganda happens to be a breach of Armenia’s national security in my view. Giving confused children unnatural ideas can result in fewer Armenians being born in the future. Thus, your propaganda and political agenda is an assault on our culture in more ways than one.

  3. It boggles my mind how this publication is associated with the ARF yet promulgates the gay agenda with audacity of comparing it to Ottoman oppression!! This is not the first article either. There is no place for this in the Armenian nation or Armenian diaspora. Obviously there should not be violence against these people, but likewise, there should not be promotion of it which only helps corrupt society especially the impressionable youth — which is the objective anyway and from outside sources. You lost my respect Armenian Weekly.

  4. Vartkes,
    How is Armenia going to be different from Azerbaijan, where LGBT are oppressed, if the things you said performed there? Grow up and be civilized please.

  5. Congrats Lousine and shame on Harout and Hagop for being dyed in the wool haters and homophobes, they are no better than the pashas who oppressed Armenians and other Christians simply for who they were.

    • Just because they disagree with your version society you immediately compare them to genocidal pashas? What level of intellect is that? Harout and Hagop have valid concerns whether you like to hear it or not, so don’t impose your western ideals on a traditional society that needs to go through it’s own social evolution without outside pressure. Armenia is in a life and death struggle between two genocidal neighbors and all you and other diasporans can concern yourself with is how to push LGBT rights in the country? Stay out of Armenia please.

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