LOS ANGELES –– The GALAS (Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society) held its second annual Queernissage in Los Angeles on June 4. The event featured a market with various creatives from the Armenian LGBTQ+ community.
Before the event, a Twitter user expressed her disagreement with the event, which caused other users to tweet about crashing it. The GALAS had security present because it believes it is the best practice for large events. Natalia Sookias, the main organizer of the event, said she messaged the woman who originally tweeted her disagreement, and asked her to kindly delete the tweet. She eventually did and despite the backlash, the event continued – hosting 21 vendors with the help of 20 volunteers. There were no incidents at the event.
Sookias is a GALAS board member and owner of Sooki Studio, a Los Angeles-based ceramic studio. She expressed how the intimacy of having a space where people can feel included and welcome was a priority for the organizers. This allowed the talent of Armenian artists to be on display at the event.
“We’re just scraping the surface of reaching out to LGBT Armenian artists and pulling them out of the woodwork and having them feel safe and welcome … and be able to celebrate both parts of their identity without having to choose one,” she said.
Glendale’s Mayor Ardy Kassakhian was also at the event to show support to the community.
“If someone’s going to threaten this group of people, I’m going stand there with them and make sure I’m there and present and show myself as a mayor of a large Armenian community — saying that I am here to serve every Armenian,” Kassakhian noted.