The war that broke out on September 27, 2020 was unexpected for many Armenians. Many of them had planned a normal day, which would pass in its daily rhythm. It should be a day off.
But Armenia was shocked by the news: “The enemy attacked at the border.” The shocking news did not leave untouched the representatives of the Armenian LGBTQ+ community, many members of which took part in the hostilities and some of them volunteered in the rear.
Due to the high rate of homophobia, many people prefer to hide their sexual orientation and that is why there are no data about the members of this community in the research on the war.
A. Kh., which identifies as a homosexual, participated in hostilities too and addresses the public with the following letter in an interview with the DiverCity NGO:
“The war began…
It was 7:30, I think (I do not remember, we were very confused). One of my friends woke me up. At first I did not understand what was going on until the sound of a bomb was heard and the windows slammed shut.
I immediately got up and saw that half of the boys were already ready (armor, helmet, backpack, weapons). We got dressed. We woke up those who were asleep. Almost all of us were ready, but the platoon commander did not know what to do (he had just been assigned to us). I approached him and said that I knew which weapon and where to carry. He trusted me so I arranged the detachments and weapons in the appropriate positions. The place was mountainous, we climbed with difficulty, but we did. I was exhausted as I climbed, and knowing that I could not stand, I shouted to find some strength in myself.
We finally arrived and immediately went to the trench. Everything had already started. The enemy was coming with small forces, the armored equipment was visible in the distance. We started firing and hit them. The enemy retreated, the armored equipment was hit by the position next to us. Panic broke out among them. The ambulance did not have time to take the wounded.
The hot moment was over and we decided how to organize everything properly but in the end we all decided to stay awake.
It was night, around 00:00 (we did not have watch to know the exact time). Then we were told on radio set that people were coming to help us. The military men came. They told us to go and have a rest. Well, it was natural that we could not leave their position because, firstly, they did not know the place, and secondly, we did not know who they were.
Some of us went to have a rest, others stayed on duty. About an hour and a half later the boys woke up and joined us (they told us that it was impossible to sleep because it was very cold in the shelter and because the ceiling was open and the wind was very strong. They could not feel their feet for 10 minutes at first).
And so we stayed awake until 7 in the morning (4 to 6 is considered the main hour of a subversive attack).
It was already day time and we went to sleep. We decided to sit next to the shelter for a while and even at that moment the enemy continued to bombard everywhere around. For a moment a whistle sounded and it seemed to us that the bomb was directly over our heads but fortunately it fell about 50 meters away (because we were surrounded by dense trees and the fragments almost did not come to us). And at that very moment we calmed down. Suddenly a loud whistle was heard again. We looked around and I felt it approaching me. But it passed… It passed right next to my neck (it was about 5 centimeters away from touching me). That moment was indescribable. Your whole life passes in front of you and you understand what life is, what it means to live, and I realized that life is given once and you should enjoy it – live freely, as you want.
Yes, I am gay, who hid his identity but that moment changed a lot in my life. I began to explore the life and look for new meanings in it. I started asking myself questions: who am I, what do I want and where should I go, am I ready to live freely, should I fight for my rights?
For a moment everyone was silent… Then they were really happy and said that it was a miracle that I did not die and I must be thankful for surviving.
It means that you still have a lot to do to change the world. For a moment I started thinking: “Yes, I need to change it but not alone, but with others”. And until the end of the war I was thinking about those questions.
Yes, I was the captain of the position! Yes, I was able to keep my position, so that there would be no casualties in my position.
It is obvious that the volunteers that were not ready for all these were lacking but thanks to my staff we were able to help and quickly prepare them for military operations.
Yeah, those who do not know me completely consider me a hero, they think that we have kept the position entrusted to us until the end but will they remain of the same opinion if they know that I am gay? I do not think so… But I am the same person and I did it not only for myself but for everyone.
Change your worldview! I am the same person with my flaws and strengths as you are, but being gay is neither a good nor a bad side. That’s me and that’s it, you can’t get infected with it.
And I am glad that the fragment passed by me, because it changed a lot in my life, because I did not fight for my life, for my rights before but now I call on everyone (to a homosexual, a child, a victim of racism, a woman whose rights have been violated or to someone else) to live their lives and fight for their freedom.
Know that life is given once and it must be lived freely!
Postscript: after all this, you may not consider me a hero but before you knew it, I was a hero for you. A Question: What has changed in you?”
Editor: Arayik Beybutyan
Proofreading: Artak Adam