As a teen, he didn’t know any queer Armenians. He later discovered them in books — and began his personal library

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The only books in JP Der Boghossian’s house as a child were Bibles and other encyclopedias. So from an early age, he searched for all the books he could find – from “Calvin and Hobbes” to “Beowulf.”

“What was magical for me was that there were other ways of life,” he said. “The country I was caught in was not the only way to live.”

Today, Der Boghossian travels around: The Anthony, Minn., Resident is co-founder and co-founder of Normandale Community College and president of the board of the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota. But he grew up in an American American family in the southwest of Michigan.

As a young man, he hoped that his faith would help him to convert. Now, he is identifying himself as queer: the only independent term used by most people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transgender. But as a child, he had a strong desire to change. He read the Bible three times, gave a sermon and tried to prove his worthiness. He expects his conversion to come before the final moments. But the conversion did not come.

Books helped him escape the confusion of knowledge. In high school, she worked in the local library, where she worked as a courier. But the librarian often scolded him for being distracted by the books he was supposed to keep.

The closest actor Der Boghossian saw in the books was William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “They are trying to move around in a cruel world and the problems that exist,” he said. “They don’t know if they are crazy or not. This started for me at another level. ”

In her 30’s, when Der Boghossian began to admit that she was a slave, she began to read books again. He realized he did not know any Armenian foreigner, and had no one to talk to about his connections. “That’s why I was trying to find books, and I realized it wasn’t easy,” he said. There is no library. ”

So he made one. Der Boghossian, now 39 years old, founded the Queer Armenian Library: an archive of artifacts from Armenia for centuries. The blog, which went live in late November, includes captions for any project, reviews, video navigation and instructions on how the reader can get the basics.

Identifying and following these books was not easy. There were no sales sections in the Armenian sales books or BuzzFeed’s top 10 list. Some blogs and magazines offer references to other Armenian books, but not enough. He developed an online tracking system to find as many things as he could. He found unpublished books and videos that had been illuminated.

What started as a curiosity about writing articles and experiences has been of interest to readers around the world. For a long time Der Boghossian felt like he had to differentiate between the sexes and its races. Now, the project has become a way to connect its components. He believes that the art, writing, video and music available in the library will also help others.

“You know, Wow, I’m not alone,” said Der Boghossian. “There are others who are like me.”

Landing page for Queer Armenian Library.

Drawing picture

‘The powers that be’

For decades, Der Boghossian has struggled to understand the meaning of being armed with the Armenians. Homosexuality would be stigmatized in Armenia, she said, and she felt ashamed and guilty.

“When you talk about expulsion from the culture of your faith, it’s not just your friends and relatives, it’s the atmosphere,” he said. “That’s why it was so dangerous in the middle of it.”

Ancient tensions remain high in Armenia. One hundred years ago, the Ottoman ruling party led a genocide against a small Armenian group in Western Asia. 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923, as a result of killings, arson, drownings, torture, disease and famine – about a quarter of the Armenian population.

The family of Der Boghossian women fled to France as refugees after the assassination, then moved to the United States in the 1970’s. Armenia’s population has spread throughout the world. In the US, 1,000 Americans live in Minnesota, while more than 100,000 live in the Los Angeles area.

As the leader of the Minnesota region of Armenia in the United States, Der Boghossian appeared on the front page of the Star Tribune in 2019, criticizing the Rep. Ilhan Omar for voting for the “current” in the election to end the killings of Armenians. After the vote became part of the political process against Ilhan in the next major war, Der Boghossian described Ilhan’s mission to rebuild trust with the Armenian party. The video, which was posted on Twitter, criticized his critics for using football as politics.

But some of the worst atrocities have not been committed in public. Der Boghossian believes that Armenia’s past suffering continues to have a profound effect on religion and human culture. For example, the faith states that fertility is more important in a family – than in other Western Christian traditions. “You have to marry an Armenian and you have to have Armenian children and that is your responsibility as an Armenian,” he said.

Der Boghossian continued, “There is another indication that patience is an option, that we are Christians, and that you should be Christians because you have relatives who died in the martyrdom because they were Christians. Then there are these two things that are happening because of the same genocide that is more intense than in France or England or Sweden. ”

For Der Boghossian, the legacy means that he grew up feeling completely out of place in his family. And as he later finds out, it means that the ideas of some of the best known Armenian writers were hidden for centuries after his death.

Two famous Armenian poets of the early 20th century, Vahan Tekeyan and the Yeghishe Charents, were homosexual. Filmmaker Sergei Parajanov spent four years in prison in the Soviet Union during the 1970’s for homosexuality and sedition. (Martin Scorsese has called his film “The Color of Pomegranates” “unchanging the timing of the movie.”)

“Some of our greatest poems, some of our greatest geniuses have to hide,” said Der Boghossian. “Even today, when everyone else is talking about sex, they’re talking about sex. No one ever talks about this. ”

‘I wish I had it when I was a child’

One of Der Boghossian’s first books has been linked to an ancient book by the ancients, “One Man Guy,” written by an Armenian American writer and critically acclaimed American novelist. “I wish I had it when I was a kid,” he said. This book shows the hope of what a teenager has fallen in love with.

The Queer Armenian Library’s cover of the book’s prizes, which are described on the cover of the book, is asked by the video’s author and advises readers where they can order it.

Screengrab for text.

The beginning of the library entry for “One Man Guy.”

Drawing picture

Reading the book as a whole brought him joy, as well as a deep sense of sadness that his coming of age was so different. “It’s not the case with young Armenians today,” he said. “It could be that way. There are many opportunities for that to happen. But that is not the case with most youths. ”

One of her favorite, which is on the big “shelf” on this page, is a 1992 memorial, “Legacy Woman’s Legacy,” written by Arlene Voski Avakian. Although the author is a man of a different age, he found great similarities in the way he tackled the topics of violence, race, gender and family.

“We also found relief when you finally read someone saying what you have been thinking,” he said. “You feel like you hear, you feel like you’re being represented for the first time. But there is also this outrage, that Arlene wrote this in the early 90’s. Why is this not readable? Why is this not being discussed so much? It just didn’t have to happen. ”

Global map

The demolition of the library has shown Der Boghossian the lines of the Armenian monarchy. When he found more Armenian literature and art than he had dreamed of when he first looked, the collection represented a small collection of Armenian literature.

“You see your country growing, and you immediately see the problems of your country,” he said.

However, he no longer sees his queen and the Armenian experience as different.

Initially, the contents of the library showed him the presence of other Armenian emperors, who link him to people who have experienced similar experiences throughout the region and generations. Now, so do the readers of this page. A visitor from the new world sees the blog, the WordPress colors that color pink on its readers map. As members of Armenian countries around the world visit the library, various countries shine pink.

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