“If before we were afraid that we would be subjected to violence or receive death threats, today, in fact, they are already killing us,” said one of my friends from the LGBT+ community at the candlelight vigil in Adriana’s memory. I couldn’t gather my thoughts to answer him, I didn’t know what to say. Yes, a person was killed in her own apartment. The killer continued to stab the dead woman and then set fire to her apartment. She was killed for being a trans* woman. People justify the killer, call for violence to gather the living ones [trans people] and burn them all.
It felt like my thoughts were scattered all over the park, wandered over the faces of the mourners, and erased under the suppressed tears. Ten minutes must have passed already, but I was desperately searching for comforting words to say to my friend. And I couldn’t think of anything, probably because whatever I said would not feel right or natural.
The noise of the city is heard from all sides. Nothing has changed in the city, nothing has changed in the lives of people walking on the sidewalks, rushing home from work, discussing their difficult and unbearable day sitting in cafes. Nothing has changed in our city, it’s just a trans* woman was killed and burned yesterday.
The sound of silent cries was regularly interrupted by the heartbreaking cry of Adriana’s mother. “She used to tell me: Mom, wherever I am, you can find me… I can’t find you now, I’ve been calling you since yesterday, I’ve been looking for you since yesterday and I can’t find you. I don’t believe… I can’t …” cried the mother, sitting in front of a photo of her 28-year-old daughter, lit by the dim light of several candles.
There was no lighting in the central park of the city, because nothing has changed in our city. The wind constantly extinguished the candles lit by the mourners, but Adriana’s friends and relatives who were near the picture at that moment lit them again persistently, knowing that candles would be extinguished again in some 30 seconds. It was very symbolic, like the struggle that has been going on for years, when you know that all your efforts are vain or will make 0.001 percent difference, but you stubbornly do not give up and keep fighting like the latest hopeless romantic.
The mournful voice of the mother seemed to be a comfort, helping the attendees to give themselves freedom and finally release their emotions and tears accumulated over the years that have become kind of meaningless to pour out.
Аcquaintances and strangers were regularly asking questions to Adriana’s friends that had organized the candlelight vigil: “What are we going to do? Are you planning something?”, and the answer was always the same: “We don’t know, we honestly don’t know. We can’t sober up. We don’t know yet.”
Then again silence, the noise of the city could be heard from all sides of the park. Nothing has changed in the city. Two women were walking past the park arm in arm and asking each other: “What is going on here?”
The barrier between pain and uncertain reality was broken again when Adriana’s mother was brought to her daughter’s photo for the last time to say goodbye. Adriana’s mother again helped the crowd to release the accumulated pain. “I do not believe it: No: Leave me. I don’t believe it: Let me stay a while. Let’s pretend you’re just asleep, that’s why you’re not answering my calls. I don’t believe it,” the woman’s voice went away, gradually getting lower and lower. And the usual noise of the city began to be heard again: the voices of children running, the periodic barking of dogs frolicking in the park. Nothing has changed in the lives of dogs either, neither the strays nor thе ones who have a home. Yesterday, a trans* woman was killed and burned in one of the apartments in the center of Yerevan.
I looked around, hoping to find something, anything that would help restore my ability to think. My eyes wandered hopelessly, when I turned around and noticed a group of men about 10-15 meters behind us, who at that moment started making noises, after which I heard sounds like breaking glasses.
“They are attacking, run away!” “Who are they?” “Run, quickly!”, “How did they know about the vigil?”, “Run after them!”, “Call the police, quickly!” I felt a blow on my leg and wetness: they hit me with eggs. I could not think, even the noise could not revive my thoughts. I took out my phone to record the attack, but I couldn’t press the red button: my hand started shaking. “Come here,” my friend pulled my hand.
Noise. Some mourners ran after the fleeing group with loud voices, some started calling the police, who were gathered in the other part of the park, and since there was no hope from them, people called the police to register an emergency call. One of the attendees began to cry loudly while sitting on the ground in front of the photo. Wish I was in his place.
A policeman appeared in the area and some mourners showed the direction of the group of the attackers. “Catch them, they attacked us, they hit us with eggs, stones, bottles”, “Run, catch them!”. In response to the trembling voices of mourners, the policeman announced in a phlegmatic voice: “Yes, I understand, they have already fled, what can I do?”. Don’t do anything, they just killed a trans* woman yesterday, and today they attacked people who respect her memory. No problem, don’t do anything.
On the spot, it was decided to stop the candlelight vigil for the safety of the attendees, they urged us to go home in groups, and some of the organizers and my friend agreed to go to the police for a statement.
This time we blew out the candles instead of the wind. On the candles, on the flag, on the picture… there were broken eggs everywhere. The attackers’ main target was, in fact, Adriana’s picture. There were half-empty beer bottles and eggshells on the grass.
Nothing has changed in the city, just a group of scared people, considered as potential targets of violent people, were going home in groups, the same people always go to testify and defend the rights of their community in one of the police stations.
Nothing has changed in the city, someone just killed and burned a trans* woman.
The author of the text and photos: Yelena Sargsyan