by DAVE FUMAROLA
Azerbaijan’s LGBT community is currently mourning the loss of one if their leading activists. The body of 20-year-old Isa Shakhmarli was found yesterday after reportedly hanging himself. Shakhmarli was the chairman of Azerbaijan Free LGBT, a Baku-based gay rights advocacy group.
Shakhmarli wrote a suicide note to his friends on Facebook, saying “This world is not colorful enough for my colors.” He went on to ask that his friends tell his mother that he loved her and that the door to his apartment would be left open. He also said in the note, “I am leaving. Forgive me for everything. This country and this world are not for me. […] You are all guilty for my death. This world cannot handle my true colors. Goodbye.”
Shakhmarli’s loved ones reported the suicide. Police discovered the body ad the scene, hanging from a rainbow flag. Medics attempted, but were unable to resuscitate Shakhmarli. An investigation is still being conducted to confirm the cause of death.
Like Russia and many other former Soviet republics, Azerbaijan is not the most welcoming environment for homosexuality. Many citizens have hostile views on the subject, which is advocacy groups are especially important in these areas. Harassment and attacks are commonplace for gays and lesbians in these countries. “The main reason for his suicide was that he had bad relations with his family, said Vugar Adigozalov, a colleague and close friend. Shakhmarli’s family has had a difficult time coming to terms with his sexuality, which they considered an illness.
“I wish our society was not biased. Before hating, read about homosexuality on the Internet, learn about it,” Shakhmarli was quoted saying in a 2013 interview. “I want LGBTs to be brave. If you want, you can achieve.”
There haven’t been any reports on what specifically caused Shakhmarli to go against his own words, but he inspired an entire community of people in his 20 short years. Shakhmarli’s coffin was covered in a rainbow flag for his funeral, where many mourners paid their respect to the young LGBT advocate.