17th of May is a celebration for me, a shared birthday for queers that is associated with great pain and sadness, because in Georgia we are not allowed to celebrate. We are not allowed to be ourselves for at least one day a year.

We have had attempts to speak up about our rights, increase visibility and acceptance since 2012. However, the homophobic background does not give us a chance to do that. We still are not able to live with dignity and happiness in this country.

We are told that we should look and act the way that society wants us to. Of course, there are some brave and confident people that nowadays go outside looking the way that they enjoy, but at what cost: so much suffering, bulling, anxiety, persecution, cyberattacks are a constant part of such lives.

It doesn’t really matter to me if I am able to go outside on 17th of May. It matters to me to be able to go outside peacefully and safely, the way I want to, every day of the year. Not only does the state not provide preventative measures to protect us, it does not even fulfill the anti-discriminatory law. It appears that this law has no value or power.

What kind of freedom of speech are we talking about, when I am only allowed to walk through police carton like an animal, stand in front of the cameras like an exotic creature, as if to protest something, and then go back through the carton. I do not want to be a chimpanzee inside a cage, that is taken away from danger with yellow buses, like some kind of an exhibit. I should be able to protect my right to live without those cartons.

To those queer people, that still have not found any supporters and are alone, I would like to say that they should not be scared or ashamed of anything, that they should not hide. It might seem comfortable to live in the closet, but it’s only temporary – a day will come when they will find their supporters that will fight with them and for their rights. Homophobia and Transphobia is like a Pandemic – someday it will be over.

I’m not just saying this, to make myself feel better. If we compared how much has changed since 2012, when we were being chased with a stool to be killed, to today, we will see that change still happens. Today I can freely go out while wearing colorful clothes and an earring with my friends.

Small changes might be difficult to notice, but they are still as important: for example, policeman training programs. When I used to call the police in 2012 in cases of violence, they would always ask me whether I was a “faggot” or a “transvestite”. Now they don’t ask me anymore if I’m a member of “sexual minorities”. It is also important that nowadays there is much more information available about Queer people in Georgian language, whether its articles or videos. It is crucial that such information is reliable and of good quality. These changes are the merit of those activists who was not afraid to speak up, of those organizations that work without a break, and of everyone who chose love instead of hate.

This still does not mean that we can be calm – there are some Neo-Fascist groups getting stronger in Georgia, whose one of the objectives is to harm queer people. I really love life, and I want to be alive, I do not want to fall victim to hatred or lose my friends. We deserve to be able to say that we lived a dignified life and it was all worth it in the end.

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