WEST HOLLYWOOD — The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special gala held at Vertigo Event Venue in Glendale, Calif., on June 2. The evening was hosted by comedians Lory Tatoulian, Mary Basmadjian and Movses Shakarian. Over 180 members of the Armenian LGBTQ community, their families, friends and supporters reflected on past achievements, and looked forward to continuing to empower new generations of Armenians who seek a platform where their ethnic and sexual identities can converge.
Over 20 years ago, a small group of LGBTQ Armenians felt the need to create an organization that would foster a sense of community and belonging. At the time, many LGBTQ Armenians had been ostracized from their families, friends and the Armenian community at large. What started as mostly a platform for social interactions, grew quickly into a formidable organization that has become the leading voice for the Armenian LGBTQ community in Los Angeles and worldwide.
Early on, GALAS realized the need to foster a safe and supportive network for LGBTQ people of Armenian descent. Various programs aimed at empowering members of the community have been launched throughout the organization’s existence. These include pro bono psychotherapy services; college scholarships; outreach to public schools with significant Armenian student populations; ‘coming out’ support to individuals and their families; and showcasing talents within the arts.
This year marked a renewed pledge to building bridges between GALAS and other LGBTQ and Armenian community organizations. GALAS also plans on doing more in terms of uniting LGBTQ Armenians worldwide by creating affiliate chapters. Raising awareness on the plight of the LGBTQ community in Armenia and throughout the Diaspora is also a priority for the GALAS. In recent years, a close partnership with the Yerevan-based PINK Armenia NGO has been developed, which aims to provide support for the full protection of the rights of LGBTQ people in Armenia.
GALAS honored several LGBTQ Armenian activists at this year’s gala, including James Adomian, Mamikon Hovsepyan, Rudy Akbarian and Azad Mazmanian.
“Superstar Award” : Openly gay comedian, actor, impressionist James Adomian is best known for his work on Comedy Bang! Bang!, Chapo Trap House, Last Comic Standing, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Adomian, the grandson of Armenian-American mathematician George Adomian, is a proponent of LGBTQ rights who recently criticized Saturday Night Live for not casting an openly gay man in 30 years.