When I was commissioned to write an article about Armenia’s gay community, I did not anticipate the problems I would face finding people to talk to. It took me a month to arrange the meetings I needed, each of them laboriously set up via a mutual friend.
My first contact was Argam Babayan, who was to be the focus of my article. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals tend to lead hidden lives in Armenia, and I had never met a gay man before, so I was as nervous about the meeting as he was.
I was due to meet Babayan at his home, which made me all the more worried, and the unlit stairway of his apartment block did not help matters. But it all turned out well – he was open and helpful, which helped me overcome many of the prejudices I felt.
At first it was strange talking to him, as I had never met a man with dyed hair or such a flamboyant style before, but I soon learned he had more serious reasons than I had to be concerned.
“Yesterday I was humiliated. I’d left home and was waiting for a bus when one lad from our courtyard came up to me and started shouting and swearing, and then he hit me,” Babayan told me.
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