I am Natalie Chincharauli, a 20-year-old lesbian woman and former queer activist.
Childhood and Activism
I had a normal childhood and I was a very ordinary child. I loved cooking and experimenting, I remember I would melt chocolates into different shapes. I also had a role model, my grandfather’s sister’s son – he was always outstanding, he had a hippie sort of style. I remember that he would talk to my mother about things I could not hear from anyone else. He always broke standards, he was simple and at the same time, very different. Mentally, I used to imitate him, he is still like that and I appreciate him very much.
I never had prohibitions, I behaved the way I behaved. I was 15 years old when I fell in love with a girl, before that I also thought I was pansexual because I liked one long-haired boy very much as a child. But then, over time, from relationships and interests, even from the fact that I was less attracted to the boy’s smell and everything related to them, I realized I was a lesbian.
I was 16 when I got involved in activism. I was at the Young Greens festival, I liked their ideology, I filled out a form, they called me and I went. I started from there and then I moved to queer activism. I have always liked getting a non-formal education, attending trainings, meeting people and learning what services NGOs provide. I am still involved in this form of activism, where services are provided. Protests are not my focus at all.
Everyone in my family knows about my orientation. At first I told my aunt and uncle, who are young and very supportive of me. My mother always knew that I was involved in queer activism, I read articles on this topic to her, give her information and as an activist, she supported me. She did not know that I was a queer, but I was totally laying the groundwork for her to not have a bad reaction. As for coming out, everyone heard it when we did an interview for one of the channels where we had to talk about social issues and the services that are available for queer people, I was telling them how these services helped people. Although I asked the journalist many times to focus only on services, in the end, it was very poorly edited and it showed that I am a lesbian who is pitied by people. This was followed by a very bad reaction, my grandfather calling me, shouting horrible words, how he couldn’t imagine who i was, how could he show his face in the street and how could he look at his neighbors. By the way, then he changed his mind.
My mother was also very heartbroken. She is a single mother, She has one child, she put everything in me and maybe that causes her frustration. It was most difficult when she met my partner – she took this very badly and my girlfriend and I had to move out. There she was grilling and reprimanding me for how I left her. But it was more about the motherly selfish feelings rather than homophobia. Coincidentally, I had a job at the time where I constantly had to adjust to the role of hetero, no matter how many guys I met and only offered friendships to, I was told I had complexes. You can not tell everyone that you are a lesbian. At the same time, I am a person who tries to create comfort in the relationships with others, which, in the end, worked out very badly for me, like – everyone likes you, but in reality no one knows you. Today I say all this simply, but I remember this stage of my life was painful.
Now I have a good relationship with my mother, we live together and at this point everything is without problems. We talk, I explain, She wants to understand everything and I appreciate that. She still has some hopes, but this hope is now more related to her grandchildren.
I do not remember any bad experiences related to my queerness. I remember when I was in 10th grade, my classmates shouted very homophobic things and as soon as they heard about me, they just limited themselves to standard irritating questions, however, in the end, they still got over it. It was more annoying to have relationships with men when I said I was a lesbian, it always sparked a doubled and tripled sexual interest and I felt very bad, oppressed because of it. They became more interested… instead of giving up.
There were constant questions about “what kind of trauma do I have” and these questions came from my friends, co-workers. I was told that I had to break up with my girlfriend because “a boy would suit me better.” My partner is less feminine, which, in this respect, makes things easier, though, at the same time, it is more difficult for her on the other hand. By the way, the never said that “it will pass” but they implied it.
I have lost my childhood friend because of my queerness, no, I’ve not lost her, in principle, it just happened to me – ‘Oh, you know what, Nata, I love you so much but I’m homophobic and I’m against it all.’ I know that some people, my childhood friends, had a very negative attitude, there was ridicule behind my back, but I don’t even know the end of these stories.
“Queer rights are always left at the bottom”
It is very difficult for me to discuss and distinguish the problems of queer women, in general, from the problems of women in general. My whole understanding of this problem is related to the fact that there is no difference, but, in fact, there is, when I hear stories that children have been kicked out of the house by their families because of their queerness. For example, my friend was locked in the house and told to reconsider what she was saying. Also, the issue of equal marriage is a very big obstacle, but we can not talk about it today, because there are no opportunities for equal marriage in many countries besides us. Somehow you can deal with the wrong thinking of people, but you can not deal with the law that tells you that you do not have the right to have a family, you do not have the right to get married. Now they are taking the opportunity to have a child if you are not married to a man. This is a slap in the face for women in general, as well as highlighting the lives of queer women – if I would have a child and grow old with my girlfriend, we would be “friends” who raised a child, but now we can neither marry nor confess, nothing at all . It’s awful, but even a sense of injustice can not be felt yet in this regard, because in the direction of queer rights, before we get the right to equal marriage, there are still too many steps to be taken.
When I think about what the state should do to improve the state of the queer people, I think it should move to a direct attack and recognition of our rights. The law should be strengthened if someone speaks with hate speech about me – this should be followed by an appropriate response. However, there is no state will and queer rights are always left at the very bottom.
My girlfriend and I are going to leave Georgia. We want to live together, have a family. We do not want it to be just “girls who live together and are lesbians”. We want to be a family, to be recognized, to work together, to have the right to think about the future, the house, even something in common – why would I want my property if it could not be for my wife? Or, I can not use her property. We want to take care of our future and not just be lesbians who annoy no one and are in the shadows as much as possible.
Coming out is your strength!
I want to tell the queer people to try their best not to back down because of their queerness and not to stop. We are telling others that this is a normal story and it is only our orientation, so take this story as lightly as you can. Do not be afraid to know that Coming out is your strength. Know that you have services, know that too many people are on your side, and know that you have a big family – we are a small but big family.
The interview was prepared with the support of the Women in Georgia Foundation (WFG)