As being away from my hometown, I got used to thinking a lot. Not like I never loved it before, but now more generally, in a way like I’m the ambassador of my country here.
I come from Georgia. No, not the state of America, It’s located in Caucasian region. No, we aren’t Russia, also they are our neighbours (unfortunately) We are independent, ancient country fighting, just like others, against racism, sexism, homophobia and other sicknesses, humanity somehow managed to create.
Georgia is one of only a few countries in the former Soviet space that directly prohibits discrimination against all LGBT people. Since 2012, Georgian law has considered crimes committed on the grounds of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity an aggravating factor in prosecution. However, homosexuality stays to be strongly condemned by some people, especially, highly traditional, Orthodox Christians. Consequently, homosexuals are often targets of abuse and physical violence. Since 2014, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been outlawed. Moreover, recent street tensions in the country over LGBT rights have generated unprecedented media coverage and public discussion of this previously neglected topic. 17th May of 2013 is the date, first Georgian gay parade was held. Unfortunately, it became pretty memorable one. Avenues and squares turned into battlefield. The gay rights activists holding the rally were met by thousands of protestors opposing homosexuality, who were allowed to break through a police cordon and violently pursued them, beating and throwing stones at them. Six years have passed since, but the condition in this area is still heavy.
One can hear mostly, that Georgian people are friendly, hospitable, kind and loving, but we also need to say out loud that some of us are sick with a disease called homophobia.
In October 2017, Georgian footballer and then captain of Dutch club “Vitesse,” Guram Kashia wore a rainbow-striped captain’s armband for “Vitesse” in support of LGBT rights, leading to a backlash in his own country. It caused huge protest, hate and even request to ban one of the most successful Georgian footballers from national team. In 2018, he became the inaugural recipient of UEFA’s #EqualGame award for his act. Sadly, it all indicates that hate blinds homophobic people so much, they can’t even appreciate things, whole other world can.
In 2019, Georgian movie “And then we danced” directed by Swedish director Levan Akin was announced. The film is about Georgian young gay couple also dancers of traditional dances and their lives with all the troubles, dreams, goals etc. It hasn’t premiered in Georgia yet, but already received huge amount of protest and criticism only because of plot. Movie has been shown on many different film festivals, including Cannes, Chicago, Montreal and Odessa. Won various awards, received great reviews and got nominated on Oscar for best foreign movie.
However, It still is an issue, should the cast attend premiere in Georgia or will it be unsecure for them. And it’s just a movie… successful one, by the way.
One of the characters in this movie says several times that the main hero is too soft while dancing and there is no place for softness in Georgian dances. Yes, we are passionate, brave, forceful and devoted to every move, but in my faith none of this is rejected by softness. We also were taught to be affectionate, tolerant and respectful and those things do reject aggression.
And then we danced… yeah, we have been dancing for centuries and we’ve been hospitable, friendly nation for centuries. That’s why homophobic people are blinded and don’t really understand the values which brought tiny country like Georgia till today.
We have so much to offer to the world… so many artists and so much to say. Only if we don’t drown everything with darkness of hatred, we will dance.
And then we will dance…