Isa Shahmarli, 20, was the chairman of Azad LGBT (Free LGBT) group in Azerbaijan. Yesterday he hanged himself for one simple reason – he was gay. In his last message to the world, which he posted on his Facebook page, Isa, whose name means Jesus in Arabic, said: “This world is not strong enough to bear my colors. Farewell.“
I am not going to speculate about the last drop that pushed Isa to this horrible step. But I am going to address the fault, just because it is time.
Dear people of Azerbaijan,
We are all to blame for his death. Yes, each and one of us. Those of us, who treated homosexuals like we treated women, or animals – as the lowest sort; those of us, who disowned our children for being gay, or created an environment in which they simply could never come out to us; those of us, who stood idly by and watched gay people being degraded and looked down to at our schools, universities, families, or even on the streets; those of us, who praised openly-gay celebrities, but could never stand up for gay rights in our own communities; those of us, who had gay friends, but never defended them when we should have; and finally, those of us, who were gay, but never fought for social acceptance – we are ALL to blame.
Many of you will argue, that we are not as bad as Russia, or the Middle East, but I will argue back that we are not good enough either. And until we do something about homophobia in our society, it will never go away.
The last time we made use of being free, rich and comfortable, we created the first opera in the East, built the first school for girls and established the first democracy in the Muslim world. Now it is time to champion other things that truly matter, like tolerance, understanding and acceptance – the most human colors.
For Isa, who died for our sins.