Posted by: kyrgyzlabrys | September 10, 2006

Homophobia and article translation

As promised, please, find the translation of the article published in national newspaper “”Vecherniy Bishkek”” (no link because it is only available through subcription). Also two stories about homo-transphobic attitudes in Bishkek.

Story 1
Alex and Anna K (who cut her hair very short recently) were almost attacked in a public minivan after hugging in marshrutka. The young men who saw them hugging assumed that they were gay men and were discussing how to follow them and beat them up. Alex pointed out that Anna is a woman, which was followed by an argument with two young men and then half of the people in minivan who were discussing Anna’s haircut. The guys eventually verbally assaulted Alex but did not follow.

Story 2
Alex ran into his uncle and brother on the street and had to escape in a taxi. His uncle has been insulting and beating Alex, called him an “”under-person””. Alex is safe but was very scared.

Labrys news. Labrys staff has been joined by two new staff people – one of them will be working as an office manager and another one mostly with translation. Both are ethnic Kyrgyz which increased the representation of Kyrgyz on Labrys staff.

No grant transfers. Only one of the funding agencies has transferred the funds for Labrys projects so the shelter and research project are now in “”waiting mode”” with staffpeople working without salaries. 

Article Translation. SPECIAL THANKS TO CXW for translating.

Source of publication: Vecherniy Bishkek 30 August 2006. 

Sport for gays is a holiday

The latest gay Olympic games, in which a Kyrgyzstani delegation participated, recently took place in the capital of the French part of Canada, Montreal. Gays and lesbians from all over the world – there are more than 30,000 invitees and volunteers, not including guests and tourists – demonstrated solidarity and, contrary to comments from straights, excellent sporting form.

We’re only at the seminars at the moment

Truth to tell, achieving special sports results was not top of the list of priorities; many of those who attended were not professional sportsmen. Moreover, only gays and lesbians could take part in the Olympiad. The main sports star was famous tennis player Martina Navratilova, who in her welcome speech said something along the lines of “it’s great that we’ve all gathered together here today”, and called on the gay community to be more active in fighting for their rights.

Among the most exotic figures appearing at the gay Olympiad, Fidel Castro’s niece, who has headed a lesbian organisation for many years, attracted particular attention. How she manages to do this under the gaze of the famous El Barbudo remains a mystery.

El Comandante himself has never commented on his niece’s activities. Indeed, his attitude to the problems of people of non-traditional sexual orientation is also unknown.

Even so, Cuba occupies first place in special tourist brochures, since it is famed for male prostitution. The island machos don’t consider themselves gay, but nonetheless fulfil all the whims of gay travellers. Fidel’s eternal revolution, judging by everything, has not affected the age old Cuban passion for something a bit hotter.

When the delegations of participants paraded, as is done, around the Montreal stadium, the Kyrgyz flag was carried by someone completely unconnected with us, a member of the Olympiad’s team of organisers. The fact was that our delegation consisted of all of two people – the ever-present chair of Oazis, Vladimir Tyupin, and someone new in this sphere, a representative of the relatively new in Bishkek lesbian organisation Labrys. I’ll call her Anita, since the girl is changing sex and wants to use her real surname as a man. They participated only in the seminars and games that preceded the games. Nevertheless, they received souvenir medals and were able to attend the opening, which was transformed into a noisy show with songs and dancing, glittering with fireworks.

Good or bad, there were no sportsmen amongst our “non-traditionals”. Or, one could say, the other way round, that Kyrgyzstani sportsmen are, at the moment, straight people. In any case, they have not decided to publicly let the whole world know about their particular passions.

“You cannot imagine how great it is,” recounted Vladimir, having come into to the Vechernii Bishkek offices and shared his impressions of the Montreal games, “when your country’s flag appears and thousands of people applaud the words ‘the Kyrgyz Republic’. Participation in shows like this are very important for the West. It is like proof that we have everything in order with democracy and tolerant societal attitudes towards people with ‘different’ thoughts and interests.

“And it distinguishes us positively from other Asian, and especially Muslim, countries, where homosexuals are punishable by law.

“In Iran, for example, in the last decade, around four thousand people have been executed just because they were found to have particular sexual passions. Kyrgyzstan is a secular country, without fanaticism, as it were, and we prove this everywhere and however we can.”

A ghetto for gays

The strongest impression on our two was made by a special quarter of Montreal, an entire town where only gays and lesbians live. They have a special administration and even police force, made up entirely from their community.

The population lives is two or three floor houses, which have a very urban, contemporary fa?ade, but with touches of the countryside – there’s always a small garden, an allotment with tomatoes and parsley, a swimming pool, flowers.

Vladimir and Anita stayed with a pleasant woman who worked as a translator and lived by herself in a small three-floor house, and who happily welcomed her guests from Kyrgyzstan. And everything was great, except, as it turned out, it was impossible to eat Canadian food – it was tasteless and all the rest of it. There was processed porridge made from something unrecognisable with pieces of fruit, fatless cheese, skimmed milk. And, even worse, soy.

A barbeque turned into a real trial. The coals were very good – clean, they burnt easily and came in a special clean sack. But the meat… The hostess took several ready-cut, freshly defrosted pieces of bison out of a packet. (They have bison in the same way as we have yak.) These were simply dropped on the grill without any sort of marinade. As a result, the guests were left miserably chewing on bison “leathers” and dreaming of a Bishkek shashlik.

Incidentally, in the “gay” quarter people prefer to hang out on the streets and in cafes. But, in contrast, for example, to Amsterdam, the gay community in Montreal is well-dressed 50 to 60 year olds, almost pensioners, who happily and piercingly coo at tables and on benches. The benefit of one’s own quarter is that there is complete freedom, no sideways glances and no shaven-headed fascists with clubs. Naturally, a question occurred to our two delegates: “But where are all the young people?” As it turned out, 18-20 year olds are generally found sitting at home at a computer. There, in the cybersphere, they get to know people and earn money. Life in Canada is very expensive, but the average monthly wage is all of 1500-2000 Canadian dollars [about USD 1300-1785].

The main impression was that the boundary between sexual minorities and straight people in the West is being eroded away to the point of being invisible, externally at least.

And the coexistence of these two worlds is becoming more and more problem-free and peaceful. If after so many centuries of incomprehension and extermination (even in Soviet legislation there was a criminal article for gay male sex) mankind can still realise that “different” does not mean “enemy”, then maybe the gays from their quarter of Montreal hope that they will be able to reconcile Arabs and Jews?

How unexpected and interconnected everything in this world is!

Olga Dyadyuchenko.


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