Tamar Iveri: “I do not want to see the sexual movements of naked men in Tbilisi”
23:54, July 4, 2013
"This letter will be translated and distributed among world's all big theater administrations. According to the reaction, one can see how progressive-minded person you are. Your letter has once again shown us that Vienna and Milan cannot do anything with mental darkness and freakiness" - these and similar messages were posted on Facebook about the world’s famous soprano, Tamar Iveri who sings in European theaters, after she emotionally responded to newly emerged issue of homosexuals and the subsequent results.
"I was absolutely proud of the fact that Georgian society spat so well at the rally that was organized by your team .. the organizers spoon was dropped not in ashes (spoon was dropped in ashes is a Georgian idiom and means that your goals or wishes did not come true, your efforts were worthless) but in the matter, which is on the bottom of the toilet in the countryside... Do not bring Western “fecal matter” to the mentality of the Georgian people” wrote Tamar Iveri to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili after the famous events of May 17.
The singer is currently in France, where Magazine “Sarke” interviewed her about these events.
- Mrs. Tamar, your letter and appeals and claims got great support on the one hand and outrage on the other hand on social networks in Georgia. What made you send this letter from Europe to the President and the people?
- Of course, in such situations to live according to the principle "Silence is gold" would have been the easiest for me. You will stay as a person with a Hollywood smile, talking about your creative work, “white” and “chubby” for society. But there are moments when a certain event in your country really hurts and bothers you and then your play or performance somehow becomes secondary, something patriotic is waking up in you. I am glad that I have several colleagues who did not stop thinking about their homeland and did not lose interest in ongoing events after their stomachs were filled by Euro honoraria. We are publicly expressing our different views. There are some exceptions: whatever should happen in Georgia, they still prefer to write just about their own success. It is their right and I do not judge anyone.
As for my famous status (FB status, probably. T.G) that caused such huge positive/negative response, I will say one thing: On that day, as readers might have noticed I was very agitated and absolutely sincere in expressing my opinions. at the end of the status I even apologised to readers if they had found it impolite. Generally, violent and fascist thinking does not characterize me, like others have already described my personality. On the contrary, all injustice, violence to people, animals incredibly hurts me ... this issue, as well as engaging in prostitution, has always existed and exists in society. These people are equal members of our society and they are our friends too. My agitation was caused by the turmoil and accidental or deliberate promotion- propaganda, which in those days was passing through the media. My friends were calling and telling me that children were talking about gay parade all day long and that they could not take that anymore. When we do not tell them what that (gay parade) is exactly, they surf the internet and ask us to take there. Some Russian media outlets are happily circulate an ironic phrase, "Grudzinski pederasty" (Georgian Pederasts, aka, Georgian figgots) all day long.
I have a very good relationship with the president and his wife, and perhaps that status would have surprised them , but at that moment the moral interests of the country were more important than friendship. I am sorry if all these was assessed as homophobic expression by the people in ambush.
- A discussion broke out in Georgia after the events of May 17 - whether homosexuality is inherent or acquired, immoral or the norm. What do you think about this issue?
- American doctor and scientist, Charles Socarides cured many of these "acquired" patients. They returned to their usual family life. As for the people who were born with this, this is already an inherited thing and I think no one should try to change and lecture them.
We do not want a discussion about where all of this is coming from in a person. I think this is the same phenomenon as a human being born left-handed. If I have such a child, I will accept her as she is and I will love any kind of her. But the fact is that some people esquare it after entering the circle and following the fashion. How can you otherwise explain the case of a man who has a wonderful wife and children and in his 30-40 becomes such? Often, men when they are little boys are victims of violence and that is how they lives go to that direction.
Propaganda in Georgia is definitely not needed. Everyone knows that in countries where there is propaganda, birth rate has incredibly declined. Ok, The Netherlands, Belgium and France will bear the demographic problem, but Georgia has a differnet burden on its shoulders, not to mention the constant unrest and lost territories.
We can see that in this country religious factor is strong , that is why such facts cause more anger. In Europe religion and churches have almost turned into tourist attractions. These things were the cause of the controversy, which prompted Pope Benedict to leave the post and the German press has clearly indicated about it. So, regardless of all Western values and their indiscriminate promotion-propaganda, for Georgian organism these things are perceived as foreign bodies.
Particular irritation was caused by stubbornness, when the Patriarch, the whole nation, clergy as well as secular part asks, not to hold a demonstration in the holy place where the Kashueti church is located and where the day before the funeral of the national heroes was conducted... you have information that it could lead to tensions and you ignore opinions of everyone. You invite to a duel, and then you are surprised by the negative reaction. They could have done that in the suburb, like in front of the US embassy, if there was such a need to express their opinions. If you ask me, it will be better to have a square like in European countries, even the empty area in front of the embassy, where people who are craving for publicly expressing their feelings could express them. In my opinion, they were just tools in hands of Bobolas (Rich and influential people T.G) standing behind them, who "ordered the music" (ordering music aka setting the rules, lead the way T.G)
For me those girls and guys who loudly declared on May 17, “I am gay,” are standing higher than "elite minorities" on TV, and on "Facebook" keyboard. Such scared Kurtkvitas (Bunnies T.G) are examples of anti-bravery. If they were disturbed, why didn't they get out and stand by their side?
It would be nice if we get from the west what amazes us and we should not get bad, defective, immoral parades. We should not turn the churches into tourist attractions, areas where you take photographs, we should not take elderly parents to shelters, begin sexual life at the age of 12 ... I think any normal-minded nation takes from other nation what they will benefit from. Diplomatic and political relations are also built on it. They say stupid learns from her own mistakes and smart from other’s mistakes. This expression applies to an individual, as well as to countries.
- You have lived in many European countries and you have probably seen many demonstrations held against homophobia, as well as gay parades. In what kind of means of expression do these happen there?
- I have come accross gay parades several times. I want to believe that something like this does not happen in Georgia. It is absolutely unacceptable for me - a theatrical performance with man’s huge phallus figures, naked man with almost just a fig leaf, sexual movements, fondling and oral kissing of each other. Transgender people also participate in these parades, they behave with more dignity, and just dancing along. The most "impressive" participants were fat, hairy men with bellies in women swimming suits and bras. Such things, of course, are not held in the town center. As I said, they have their own areas. Ambulances and police are mobilized. There are negative and abusive remarks too from the people, but unlike Georgia, here lives so multinational, multi-religious people, with different opinions, orientation or traditions and situation does not escalate to the disperse. The Catholic Church somehow does not intervene in such actions. They do it on their territory, and they do not do it in front of the the city's main church and tourists.
My friends who are representatives of sexual minorities tell me that such parades are unacceptable for them, but the difference is that in Europe mentality is different and the situation is different... There are no territorial and demographic problems, unrests and do not sit permanently on a barrel of gunpowder (Georgian idiom - when the situation is tense and explosive) . Here they do not even bother themselves to think where to stand, on Russia’s or Europe’s side. If a pension or salary is cut then, yes, massacre can begin! It has happened once, when I was escorted by Molotov cocktails, CocaCola bottles and water cannons to the Bastille Theatre.”
- After publication of your letter many people warned you in Georgia that they would translate it and send to European opera theatres.
- Yes, and it has been sent. It makes me laugh that after the publication of my status they started translating and sending it to some European theaters - Hurry up, Tamar Iveri is homophobe and block her as a singer! I have a European career for almost 15 years. All theaters, agents and my colleagues know, how "homophobic" I am. The world of opera has many famous faces from sexual minorities. Above all, they know how I treat their representatives. I have been a so good colleague and friend that one spun status (FB status - T.G) does not really change their impression of me. Moreover, there are many among them whom I have helped to advance in their career. Typically, these kind of steps are impossible to take for homophobes.
- Do you know who specifically sent your letter to European operas?
- I do not want to be specific, about from whom this is coming.The fact is that this does not come from ordinary people, but from the higher ranking people. Some of them might have been on this mission in Georgia. Those who should understand, will understand. It is against my dignity to argue against “keyboard braves.” First, they should do a half of my work and then I can invite to the debate. Just one thing surprised me: They admit and declare that democracy and freedom of speech exist in the country. And if you exercise your freedom of speech, they are ready to stone you to death. We cannot live with this pseudo values.
- In response to this they would say that the confrontation on May 17 happened for free speech and free thought
- The elite picked up this - It was terrible violence, religious despotism should be condemned. I understand, I too agree that such violence should not have happened. Some Katabas-Barabas-like (Katabas-Barabas is a Georgian version of Mangiafuoco from Pinocchio - T.G ) priests really behaved shamefully, and I'll say it outloud. We sinners need the priest, first of all, to calm us down and forgive our sins. But we should also think that a lot of political parties cannot gather 5 thousand people and priests could gatter 15 thousand by their influence. Maybe someone should look into the souls of these people, doesn't the coin always have two sides?
- Many have heard of the Amsterdam red light quater, in your letter you reminded the President of it - “perhaps you have seen it many times” you told him. What is happening on that street?
- Red Light District - These are quarters where everything is permissible. Drug selling and buying is a normal business. Half naked men and women or in swimming suits are posing in the windows. They pay the rent and pay taxes to the government. Tourists can go there in the daytime, but they are not advised to go there at night. Because you will either be robbed or not return home at all. It is normal to have sex on the chairs right in the streets in the evenings, not to mention every kind of parade.
- With regard to your letter many recalled Tchaikovsky's sexual orientation, and asked if youn sung arias by Tchaikovsky.
- I sing and will sing Tchaikovsky arias. I will not make comment on such a stupid comparison. So, I should not have sung with a gay conductor and should not have performed with a gay colleague during these 15 years? Fortunately, Tamar Iveri is not a princess of darkness, as they tried to portray me. What can I say about deport from Austria or Österreich, on the contrary, many people are proud that I am the only singer who ever took the Mozart Grand Prix in Salzburg and works there for many years. If democracy exists anywhere, it is probably Europe. It is important to be strong in your work and generate income for them and talk whatever you want to talk about.
In Georgia, I basicly sing at “Iavnana” charity concerts organized by Paata Burchuladze (Georgian Opera singer T.G). I am glad, he is doing such a great job and I always try not to bail on him. Unfortunately, lately, I was busy for the Patriarch’s night in Paris - I was in Australia and I was very sorry [not to attend T.G].
Years will pass, governments will change, but we should remain as beloved persons for the people. We are known for our work, we are loved for our work and not for these issues, this interview is about. I want to live in Georgia, where I as a female singer won’t need to give such interviews and will talk about light and lofty topics. From now on I will probably be more careful because I saw that if you have a different opinion you should have a horse harnessed (Georgian idiom - when you do something risky you should also be ready to run away) or to say in more modern terms, you should have a plane ticket in your hands.
- Does your husband share your opinions?
- Yes, Raul’s opinion coincides with mine. He is a religious man and a truth teller. Although he too has many friends from sexual minorities, that rally, stubbornly conducted in the center of the city was unacceptable for him. Especially because one of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan was his close friend and he was very saddened by that.