LGBT Kyrgyzstan

Posted on: July 12th, 2013 by admin No Comments

GAY FREEDOM AMOUNG THE MOUNTAINS AND YURTS:  LGBT LIFE IN KYRGYZSTAN (Published in Gay Star News June 25th, 2013 )

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-freedom-among-mountains-and-yurts250613

Other than a few adventurers following the iconic ‘silk route’, a scattering of Israeli backpackers, and any number of French tourists – not many travelers seem to know about the beautiful and mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan.

Officially called the Kyrgyz Republic, it is the second poorest state from the former Soviet Union and the second poorest in Central Asia. But despite conflicts and revolts it has managed to maintain itself as a parliamentary democracy.

Sandwiched between China and a bunch of other Central Asian countries all ending in ‘stan’, this former Soviet Republic has a lot to offer in the way of snow-capped mountains, cosy yurts, and crumbling relics of communism. Somewhat surprisingly, we found Kyrgyzstan also has a lot to offer in the way of a strong, growing LGBT movement.

Only hours after our arrival to the capital city of Bishkek, representatives from Labrys, a local LGBT organization, met us at our guesthouse. Sizing up my partner and me over coffee and concluding we were harmless, they invited us back to their lesbian lair, aka the Labrys offices, and had an employee pick us up from our guesthouse the following day.

The Labyrs building lies in the midst of a slightly shady residential neighborhood and is almost impossible to find if you don’t know where it is. Past the protective walls, security cameras and locked gate, the grounds inside were full of young LGBT people.

We smiled as we walked by staff members smoking, working and laughing at YouTube videos. The women – and a few men – of Labrys warmly introduced themselves and showed us their offices and kitchen, where they fed us freshly-made strawberry jam and copious amounts of coffee.

Since it was closing time, a few of them invited us out to a local city park, which doubled as a charmingly run-down amusement park. They introduced us to the local beer, which we sipped out of half liter bottles, as we rode high into the air on a rusty Ferris wheel, watching the city spin slowly by with our new friends. We all laughed as they dutifully taught us to swear in both Kyrgyz and Russian – a right of passage for any foreigner in a new land.

Over the next several weeks we got to know a few of the women from Labrys, who introduced us to the interesting, post-soviet, nominally Muslim world that is Kyrgyzstan, and they graciously let us interview them about LGBT issues in their country…

To read the full article published in Gay Star News click on the link below:

- See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-freedom-among-mountains-and-yurts250613#sthash.4cJQb0Db.dpuf

 

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