For those who don’t know me, I would introduce myself as just Elene, an ordinary 22 years old person, with a plain appearance, a little strange, and in some ways, a closed-up, who is quite critical of herself and sees herself worse than she is. No, I don’t have low self-esteem. I’m just realistic.
Childhood — domestic violence and harsh social conditions
I was a weird child, very direct with a lot of issues. I grew up with my grandmother, grandfather and aunt and uncle who were almost the same age, in difficult social conditions. We somehow made it through, just like the rest of the people in Georgia.
There was a mulberry tree near the school. I loved to climb that tree, eat the berries and observe people from up there. I used to climb that tree after school and spend 1-2 hours there, without even realizing it. It so happened that I often got a beating for doing a harmless thing. And yes, I was physically abused for being home late. Due to this, even the happy memories are hard for me to talk about.
My last field trip was also bittersweet. Before telling the story, I must point out that my grandfather used to drink. Of course, the physical abuse got worse once he got drunk. I remember how happy I was about the field trip, especially because he wasn’t tagging along. It went great, I had a lot of fun, but as I got home, I was met by my drunk grandfather. Which unfortunately meant he would spend the whole might beating me. This is one more memory which I love and hate at the same time, just like the mulberry tree.
“Because I couldn’t physically overpower my grandfather, I lashed out by breaking things or damaging walls. It’s ironic that physical abuse only intensified due to this. ”
I came to understand my sexuality and identity at a very early age. I would have been about 6-7 years old when I started school, and realized that I was bushing just like the boys when looking at girls.
I was reassured about my sexuality when I got my first phone. I was exactly 13 years old, when I knew I liked girls without a doubt. Until then, I thought I was the only one “like that”, as if I was ill. Later I read a lot about sexuality, watched a lot of things, and realized that I was not the only one “like that”.
Things were relatively easy before the age of 17. I used to calmly hide my identity, but as I fell in love with a girl for the first time, the need to come out started to rip me apart. But I was not able to make this move. I was not ready. I only told one of my classmates, as I could feel a certain sense of similarity with them and it brought on the feeling of safety.
Rejection by mother and forced coming out
I spent 17 years of my life in an abusive home. Only at that age was I finally able to live with my mother, but just like my bittersweet memories, this too didn’t last, nor did it end well.
I was working at a local market, on a night shift back then. I would come home exhausted in the mornings. One of these days my mother used the chance to go through my phone. She saw text messages between me and my first love. I think she did, because I didn’t share my inbox or Facebook password with her, and she was very curious about what was going on.
“After being outed, everyone stopped talking to me. This was all thanks to my mother. She made sure everyone knew how “sick” I was.”
This was the hardest point, a breaking one, I would say. As soon as she quenched her curiosity, she woke me up by yelling. I had just fallen asleep. She was screaming at me with the words: ”how did you turn out like this?”. She called me sick, that I was doing it because it was trendy, and many more hurtful things, and of course, physically abused me. She hit me, which hurt and upset me much more from her than the constant beating of my grandfather. I remember spending that night at home. I was worried, I couldn’t find a place. My eyes were puffy from crying. The next day I was forced to leave the house. I must also say here that this house was bought at the expense of me being abandoned with abusers. Mother worked, renovated the apartment, socialized, while I was enduring violence, and bullying on a daily basis. Because I couldn’t physically overpower my grandfather, I lashed out by breaking things or damaging walls. It’s ironic that physical abuse only intensified due to this.
After being outed, everyone stopped talking to me. This was all thanks to my mother. She made sure everyone knew how “sick” I was.” During this period, the fact that I had to go to the police in order to be granted asylum was especially difficult for me. At that time, I did not know about the existence of community organizations and other support groups, and I had no choice but to go to the police. I hid the abuse from the police. I was still looking out for my mother. I was afraid that she would be arrested. When I asked for asylum, they told me that if you didn’t request a restraining order, they wouldn’t be able to grant me asylum.
Support is crucial for queer individuals. If my mother hadn’t pushed me away, if she had listened and understood me, I wouldn’t have to go through the hardships I went through. Because of homophobia, this country is losing many educated, creative minds and people with a bright future who can change reality, which is already resembling the 90’s again.
The difficulties of queer relationships
It is hard for queer people to build relationships in Georgia, because, even inside the community darkness prevails. There are many useless boundaries and stereotypes. For example, if you are a “tomboy”, you can’t be attracted to girls with the same style, you can only be with “feminine” girls. And if a “tomboy” wears a dress, others will make fun of her, as if some jock came in dressed like that, and that is simply wrong.
I was in love twice, and got my heart broken both times. I had several other attempts at building a relationship, but I realized that we were not right for each other, so we just drifted apart every time.
“I don’t feel safe anywhere anymore. Among them, not even at home. Nevertheless, the pain and difficulties made me stronger. As for weaknesses, I only take off my “armor” when I’m alone with myself.”
The need for society’s acceptance of queer people
In my opinion, unfortunately, instead of progress, we are going backwards. The community cannot or does not properly understand others’ coming out and does not try to understand them.
I would live in a place where my identity and sexuality would not be questioned and I would be accepted as normally as heterosexuals are.
I would advise those, who are currently going through the maze called self-discovery, to get on the Internet. There are a number of good sites that have useful information. Also, I would advise you not to trust all your “friends” and not rush talking to your family. There is always a risk of being left on the street, and these risks must be properly assessed, from the get-go.
The Georgian queer activist is a martyr who most people don’t listen to because they are full of hatred. A Georgian queer activist is a doctor who tries to teach thought and vision to someone who had both; their brain and eyes removed.
Plans for the future and advice to the public
All things considered, I plan to emigrate. I know I have no future here. There is hate and scorn at every step, which even brings demise to some queer people. I think that abroad I will have a chance to do more than exist. There, I can live fully and make my plans come true.
I think, if I work non-stop, in 10 years I will have a good career, I will be able to buy a small, cozy house in a noisy town and live peacefully. This is my plan. I don’t have dreams, as I have already mentioned, I am a realist. I mostly have plans regarding my career growth.
Having a house and still renting a place in order to have a roof over your head is a financial loss. Fortunately, I no longer have to deal with physical abuse, since I have distanced myself from my family. And as for psychological damage, well, we all have to deal with that. The main thing is not to give up.
I still think that the solution to this problem lies in people. They must have the will to get out of the gutter, which they currently reside in. They should care less about what the mob thinks and accept their own children. The more such precedents occur, the better the situation will get.
I don’t think we queers alone can achieve anything, until society stops hiding under the wing of the manipulative church and only listens to it, until they realizes that a lesbian, transgender and gay person who is killed or harassed is a human being, someone’s child and needs support as a full-fledged human being and as the future the future of this country.