Thursday, 18 July

Lilit and Mary: Two Women Living Together in Armenia

“A woman’s love for one another is such a beautiful thing”

I first read about Lilith in the newspaper. This woman had the courage to publicly announce that she was sexually molested at the young age; a cause she is championing on behalf of other women. Later we met on the internet, even though that “virtual” contact wasn’t all that active.

Our first meeting was circumstantial. Considering my traditional sexual orientation, let me confess, I was surprised that Lilit is not like me and million others. She is bisexual. Lilit is over 40 years old. She says that for a long time she had been like the rest of us – heterosexual. “Many years ago it   happened that I met a girl. She suggested it. We got friendly and started living together.”

According to Lilit, she discovers her own feelings over time and under certain circumstances. In this case, the girl living with her had gotten sick. She discovered her attraction to a person of the same sex during the time she cared for and nursed her. “I thought that was a onetime thing in my life. Although we were living together, I could not imagine our set-up to be a family”, she remembers.

I ask her if she was happy. “I would have been happy, if tensions hadn’t flared up in our personal relationship. She started deceiving me, and I am not the type of person to live a lie.  So my pride did not allow me to continue my relationship with her. But the same thing could have happened between me and a man.”

After living with the other woman for year and a half, she was forced to flee the town; to put some distance between the two of them. She went to Jermuk with a guy she knew who had been courting her for awhile. They were together for about five months. “I am not physiologically repulsed by the opposite sex”- confesses Lilit, “Men do not disgust me sexually”.

“She had been working at a gas station”

Two years ago Lilit met Mary. “When I met her, for the first 15 minutes, I did not know that she was a girl. She had been working in the gas station for four years. Everybody thought she was a boy, named Martin.  She told me not to call her with her real name”, Lilit recounts. “If I was told five years ago, that I could live with a woman, have a family, be happy, and not need anything else, I would not believe it.”

Lilit’s friends know about her sexual preference. It’s her parents that have been and remain the main problem. She does not want her parents’ circle of acquaintances to know about her personal life – it can cause problems for her parents.

“When I first told my father, he did not understand me. I told him, dad what don’t you understand, do you like women?” He said, “Yes.” I replied “So do I, am I guilty? No I am not”…

“A woman’s love for one another is such a beautiful thing, I don’t know, maybe because they are similar, that is why women understand each other better. All of my friends consider Mary and me a family. I don’t think that my family is different than any heterosexual family in any way. The only thing is not having children, for which you can undergo some procedures.”  My old girlfriend’s 15 year old daughter once told her mom, “I really like Lilit’s family.”

“Sex isn’t important for me”

Lilit does not hide the fact that she is bisexual, but she emphasizes that her bisexuality does not stem from sexual desire, which is the case with some people. “Sex is not important to me,” she assures. “If I love someone, my first priority is for the person to be happy.”

Lilit says that Mary, who is younger than her, is quite sensitive and can get as emotional as 13 or 14 year old unpredictable teenager. “She has masculine traits. Sometimes she falls in love, and that is the end of everything. She comes to me crying, and I comfort her… Our relationship is very strange. I have chosen the most complex of human relationships,” says Lilit.

“Do you get jealous?” I ask her. “I do, when I am relegated to the foreground. I am not jealous of the sex, because that should not become a fetish”. Lilit says Mary has matured lately and does not fall in love anymore. “Do you rule out the possibility that, for example, one year from now you could be with a man? I ask her. “Do you know why I rule it out? Because I will not allow myself to be with another if I have a lover.”

“But theoretically?” I continue.

“It’s hard to say categorically – it won’t happen to me. Even in the most conservative families, it can’t be ruled out that one of them turns out to be gay. Won’t the family persecute them? I know people who’ve been thrown out of the house by their parents.  There is this story about a lesbian girl who was forced to get married. She would pull her nails out to avoid having sex with her husband.”

Intolerance in Armenia is the problem

According to Lilit, the biggest problem for the same-sex minorities in our country is the intolerance of the society. And the reason for the homophobia is because when people think gay, they immediately imagine the way they make love. For heterosexuals it is something unimaginable and incomprehensible, and creates an adverse reaction toward them.

“I too have gay friends, and their physiological relationship is unimaginable for me. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t prevent me from loving and accepting them. Heterosexuals also don’t understand gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals, but they are not required to love and understand them with their heart and soul – only to be tolerant of them. The traditional Armenian model is to dictate forceful marriage upon girls (men too). I know women who live with their husbands, have children, but continue dating girls. There are husbands who are aware of these meetings, but don’t say anything, aren’t jealous, and consider that to be another world outside their realm of understanding – that the person dating their wife is not a man, but a woman.”

Lilit laughs. There is joy in her eyes. Meanwhile she confesses her disapproval of married woman seeing other women. “One of my acquaintances says that she loves both her husband and her girlfriend. But I do not understand that. What I mean to say is that when a third and fourth person appears on the scene, the relationship between two individuals becomes abnormal.  I can’t accept that.”

Lilit was 20 years-old when she was baptized in the Armenian Apostolic Church.  However, she doesn’t accept the church’s negative view of same-sex minorities.

Buddhism as a philosophy of life

The teachings of Buddha, both as a philosophy and way of life, are closer to her heart. Accordingly, after death, each person is reincarnated on a higher plane in the next life, and endowed with better living conditions and higher intellectual capacities as a reward for the virtues displayed in their past life.

“If you were to be born again, what would you change in your life?” She does not think long to answer my question.

“I would not want to be born in Armenia. Armenians reincarnate in Armenia because, from Buddha’s point of view they failed the most important mission in life, to be tolerant. To my understanding, Buddha’s most significant commandment is – if you can’t benefit therefore don’t damage, and intolerance   breeds hatred.”

According to current statistics, 2% of females in the world (4 million) and 4% of males (12 million) are homosexual.

Lilit is not particularly concerned with the numbers for Armenia.

“The most important is to be a good human; there are all kinds of people. Everybody is the same, with   the same strengths and weaknesses. It just happens that certain individuals can fall in love with a person of their own se; nothing more. Otherwise, there is no difference.”

P.S. Names in the above article have been changed.

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