Natia Gvianishvili, 30, Tbilisi

I gave a name to my identity at the age of 17. It was not difficult at all because the realization that I was lesbian came naturally to me. I have liked the company of women since childhood, both socially and emotionally, and when the sexual aspect was added during my puberty, it fit just perfectly.

The most painful experience that I’ve had is connected with my closest friend. We had been friends since the 10th grade at school and I thought I could discuss anything with her. Despite this, it still took me a lot of time to break to her something that I had known for years. Sometimes the urge to share happiness with someone is bigger than the urge of sharing unhappiness. At that time I had just started relationship with my first partner and I thought to myself “I’ll let my friend know that I’m doing well”, but I was in for a terrible disappointment. I think it was the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my life. Since then, the circle of my friends has been limited to my community. It may have been an unconscious decision. During that period, I distanced myself from all my hetero friends or the people I had met outside the community.

I came out to my mother on 3 March 2009. She remembered the date, not me, and she recently reminded me of it. She has a bitter memory of it because back then she didn’t take it too well. I understand such parents: they are confused, they don’t know how to deal with the new reality. My mom did need some time, but she adapted. I had never heard anything homophobic from my parents even before that. After a while, she was afraid every time I wore an LGBT or feminist T-shirt. She would make scenes if she saw me leaving home dressed like that. We had rows and she demanded that I did not walk around in those T-shirts.

After 17 May 2013, when we were almost slaughtered… Actually, in the beginning my mother wanted to go to the rally – good thing she didn’t go… My partner was at the rally too and I did not get on the bus before I found her. Had my mother been there, something horrible would have happened. After those events, she saw me worry and fret. One morning, when I was leaving home in another LGBT shirt saying: “Join us, stop homophobia!” I expected my mother to protest again, so I prepared myself for another fight. My mother just looked at me and said: “Nice T-shirt! I want one.” I started crying. This was her showing me support. I always fondly remember that morning.”