October 11 is the international day of Coming Out. A recent documentary film about LGBTI people “Listen to me. Untold stories beyond hatred” is a major example of coming out. LGBTnews talked about the film and about the international day of coming out to the executive director of Pink Armenia, Mamikon Hovsepyan.
-Mr. Mamikon, people who were shot in the documentary film “Listen to me” are basically coming out by telling their stories. Can LGBTI persons’ coming out change perceptions and attitudes of the society towards this community?
-When people discover the fact of their being a representative of LGBTI community, others see and realize that their professor, neighbor or someone else who they love can be a representative of LGBTI community. The best thing about the film was that there was a variety of people; they had different specialties, age, and sex. That is to say, they had different identities. 10 people at once share their stories in the film related to their family, career development or challenges, and other events of their lives. They share the fact that they are LGBTI community representatives, but at the same time, they show that their lives do not differ from the lives of other people. I mean being an LGBTI person doesn’t make your life different from the lives of other members of society. Coming out is a powerful tool in the battle against homophobia, and in that sense, I strongly believe it is going to make a big impact.
-Isn’t it too shocking for the Armenian society to see 10 people coming out in one film at once?
-I think it was a right move to show 10 people coming out in one film. If only one person honestly comes out, society reaction can be diverse and contradictory. It is also possible that that person will be targeted. But in case of 10 people, it is quite obvious that they exist, they are in different spheres and they differ from each other.
-What are some of the things being done in order to present the film to general public after the pressure sparkled around the film and after failing the screening of the film in the frameworks of “Golden Apricot” film festival?
The film is being presented in a number of festivals. That is why it is not freely available at the moment. We keeping organizing private screenings. Once film is freely available and people will have an opportunity to watch the film without being under the influence of other’s opinion, they will realize that those people’s lives are also interesting; they will realize they shouldn’t criticize them just for their sexual orientation and gender identity.
-What festivals is the film presented to?
It is referred to international festivals; both documentary and larger-scale ones. We have also presented the film to Armenian festivals; one of the most well-known festivals in diaspora is “Arpa” international festival, which included our film in the programme. It has also nominated the film in the list of documentary films. The festival starts at the end of October and ends at the beginning of November.
-As far as you know, out of the regard for the pressure around the film, haven’t the heroes regretted for coming out?
Some of them had already honestly come out for those being around them, and others, about who nobody had any idea before, feel much better now. That is because they do not need to hide or cheat and appear in the society as they are. First of all it is for their peace and secondly, it is for the society, so that they accept people just as they are.