Luka Ablotia is a 17 years old queer teenager from Abkhazia. He started discussing his sexual orientation from and early age, but before that was the road of self acceptance, which started in Georgia and continued while living in France. It was while living in France that he realized that coming to a foreign country, the difficulty of adapting to the environment, caused him to have a homophobic attitude towards others. However, the support of the people employed in the educational system and the people around him made it easier for him to accept himself, and today, when he already lives in Georgia, he knows that in the future he wants to participate in changing the environment, building an equal country.
The 17-year-old talked to us about his experience, family and future plans.
Identity discovered at an early age
I knew about my orientation from a young age. As a child, this was manifested by different interests from other boys, for example, I did not like the games that others played. Later, I wanted to express myself with piercings, earrings, or other signs, but I couldn’t say it, and it led me to oppress other people. I made fun of people who wore earrings, I was also homophobic, but I left that period behind.
Homophobia as defense mechanism and self-acceptance
I spent my childhood in Georgia. When I was a teen me and my family emigrated to France, this coincided with my homophobic period- when i was 11-13 years old, at the age of 14-15 I started accepting myself and came out.
When I came to France and saw that there was acceptance, I started going to school where I saw a lot of different people, it was scary. I thought I was the only teenager who couldn’t be who they wanted to be. It was this realization that led to my homophobic attitude, it became a kind of a defense mechanism.
During this time the whole European education system- the school psychologist, principal, teachers and the society in general supported me and other teenagers as well. I also actively followed various Georgian LGBTQI+. And even though my attitude was negative in the beginning, internet and support from people changed my perceptions.
I constantly had to fight with myself and the environment, and at some point I realized that I have nothing to lose – I live once and I better do something that can be useful for queer people, other teens.
I first came out to my sister and her friend and their reaction was quite positive, after that I decided to talk to my parents. At first their attitude was negative but I had already made my decision. I’m a principled person and I knew that talking to them openly would be a step forward, so I didn’t stop and as a result of constant talking my mother has become one of the biggest supporters I have today, my father still has a problem. Other people and relatives tried to intervene, made some comments, although their opinion is less important to me.
Although I live in the countryside, I have no fear, but the most important thing for me is my mother, and they bully her, they worry her, and I don’t want her to worry. If the people important to me are not bothered, I have the strength to defend myself and express my opinion. Besides, when you have a firm position, they don’t dare to impose their opinion on you or point you to something.
School environment and young people who are much more accepting
I was also lucky with the teachers, apart from the fact that I have never heard homophobic statements from them, most of them also support oppressed people, although they still cannot speak openly, because clear support at school carries certain risks and may cause problems.
According to my observation, young people are much more accepting and listen to different opinions, however, often, school and environment do not share enough knowledge with us, which is a big problem. Thoughts against LGBTQI+ people are caused by myths and lack of knowledge. Most of my friends and close people express their support openly. I think openly talking about my orientation changed some things in my countryside to some extent and teens also started expressing themselves more freely. After I started freely talking about my orientation in school, another student also found the courage to come out. It was important for him to feel and see support from people around him.
Future plans related to LGBTQ activism
My plans for the future are connected to Georgia, although I might go abroad to study. I think most actively that I want to participate in changing the environment. That’s why I decided to become a queer activist and do something worthwhile in this direction. The events of July 5-6 had a decisive influence on this decision, because I saw thugs on the streets attacking journalists and activists, and the police did nothing to protect them. From this moment on, I know for sure that I should get involved in activism and at least change something. My professional goals are related to journalism because I believe it will give me leverage to speak openly about topics that are important to me.
Advice for queer youth and their parents
.My advise to other queer teens would be to evaluate their surroundings. If they do not expect their family’s support and or acceptance, they should not consider coming out before gaining strong footing, their safety is the priority. I also would want teens to know that homophobia is not a smart thing, as hate destroys its carryer. Also to always think about their education and being more informed on different issues, this increases the level of acceptance.
When you give birth to a child, you take on the responsibility of loving and raising them unconditionally, we are born as different people, and the support of parents determines our future to a large extent. I still believe that even those parents who kick their teenage children out of the house love their children, but are forced to do so because of pressure. It is important that they determine who is most important and not decide how they will treat their children because of the opinions of others.