In The Closet
“Are you sure you are not recording?” Giorgi [not his real name] needs to be reassured. As a gay living in the closet, he defends his privacy and identity, fearing the judgement of what is still an homophobic society.
When we meet ,he’s browsing for a sex companion in one of Tbilisi’s cruising areas. Tucked away from the fuzz and buzz of the capital, the area transforms at night - darkness is a friend in this labyrinth of underground passages, as it provides what Giorgi and scores of others like him need to pursue their desires - anonymity. Silent looks cross, like Cupid’s arrows launched at potential partners. A returned gaze means a tacit accord is signed and the two are off to an intimate walk in the nearby city woods. As the sweltering summer heat is still clasping the city, about ten men well in their 30s are cruising.
A handful of people know Giorgi is gay. He shuns online dating and avoids LGBT-friendly bars. Like the other two times he’s been here, Giorgi drank, and quite a bit. For those who like him who do not dare coming out, alcohol is needed to pull down the inhibition and pick up the courage to go and look for sex.
Now 35, Giorgi is under pressure from his family and society to get married - most probably he’ll give in and wed. Most probably he will keep on living a double life.
“I sometimes struggle to come to terms with my sexuality, sometimes I am at peace with it. But do you think this kind of behaviour [cruising] is ok?!” he asks me, seeking approval.
A car slows down near us and the driver leans out of the window and curses the place - “a den of fags.” That moment breaks the fragile tranquility - Giorgi gets nervous, he is upset, no longer willing to talk. He politely ended the interview.