Princess Freak with Adrineh Der Boghossian and Nancy Agabian

Hello!

Today we meet Adrineh Der Boghossian and we’re talking about the book that saved her life: Princess Freak by Nancy Agabian. And Nancy joins us for the conversation!

Adrineh Der Boghossian (no relation!) is is an editor and avid reader who currently works as a project manager for a Vancouver-based book publisher. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Adrineh has lived and worked in Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, and Yerevan. In Armenia, she taught at the American University of Armenia, researched factors affecting media trust at CRRC-Armenia, and translated articles for various online media.

Nancy Agabian  is a writer, teacher, and organizer. She is a Lambda Literary Finalist and winner of the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction. Her new novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and is out now.

If you recall, Nancy was our very first guest on This Queer Book Saved My Life in conversation with Carmen Maria Machado. Season 1, Episode 1! It’s an amazing full-circle moment to have her back to discuss how one of her own books had a life-saving impact for today’s guest: Adrineh Der Boghossian.

Princess Freak documents through poetry and prose texts Nancy’s coming-of-age of as a shy, funny, bisexual Armenian-American woman who flees the small town of Walpole, Massachusetts to tell the stories of her family.

Connect with Adrineh and Nancy

Twitter: @_adrineh_
Instagram: @adrinehmacaan

Website: nancyagabian.com
Princess Freak newsletter (for updates about a reprint): nancyagabian.com/mailing-list
Instagram: @nancyagabian

Our Bookshop

Visit our Bookshop for  new releases, current bestsellers, banned books, critically acclaimed LGBTQ books, or peruse the books featured on our podcasts: bookshop.org/shop/thisqueerbook

Princess Freak is currently out of print. You may be able to find a copy through online retailers of used books. Sign-up for Nancy’s newsletter for updates on a reprinting (see above).

To purchase The Fear of Large and Small Nations visit: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9798985969238. For December Nancy is donating a portion of the book sales to the Women’s Support Center in Armenia.

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Credits

Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Jonathan Fried, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Stephen D., Stephen Flamm, Ida Göteburg, Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.
Permission to use clips from Literary Lights: Nancy Agabian in conversation with Aida Zilelian provided by the International Armenian Literary Alliance.
Music and SFX credits: visit thiqueerbook.com/music

Quatrefoil Library

Quatrefoil has created a curated lending library made up of the books featured on our podcast! If you can’t buy these books, then borrow them! Link: https://libbyapp.com/library/quatrefoil/curated-1404336/page-1

Transcript

[theme music]

J.P. Der Boghossian: Hey everyone. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian. If you’ve listened to one or more of our episodes, you always hear me say as part of my introduction that I’m the founder of the Queer Armenian Library. This is the world’s first library devoted to works by, about, and for people who are Queer Armenian. But, it’s also for queer folks who want a different cultural take on what it means to live in this world as a queer person.

You’re about to listen to a very rare episode for a podcast: A Queer Armenian host, having a conversation with a Queer Armenian guest, about a ground breaking book by a Queer Armenian author.

Welcome to This Queer Book Saved My Life!

[theme music ends]

J.P. Der Boghossian: My Armenian family’s surname is Der Boghossian. And when you’re growing up you see it all around you because you’re around your family. But as I got older, I didn’t. I never seemed to come across other Der Boghossians. In the US, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Miller, or Thompson, or Walker. So, imagine my delight, when I got a message on social from someone with the last name Der Boghossian! AND they were part of the LGBTQ rainbow!

Adrineh Der Boghossian: My name is Adrineh. We happen to have the same last name, Derebogosian. I work for a professional book publisher. My job is a project manager. I work with authors, editors, designers, and basically just shepherd a book through from start to finish to publication. So I really, I’m an avid reader. I love books. I think anybody who works in publishing must love books.

J.P. Der Boghossian: Part I of our story today: A different trajectory. Like so many guests on this show, Adrineh wasn’t necessarily looking for the book that saved her life, you could say it was waiting for her, as a book she needed, but didn’t know existed. And then one day, she’s in New York, at Blue Stockings, a feminist run bookstore.

Adrineh Der Boghossian: I was at a university and at a time when I was kind of learning or shall I say unlearning a lot of what we’ve been sort of told, learning about, you know, women’s rights, trying to also determine about my own identity in terms of coming out as queer or bisexual or gay, like, you know, trying to have these conversations with myself and coming across this book that is very small.

in size, you know, is kind of not, maybe doesn’t catch your eye at first glance just because the colors are very muted and it was just on the rack. And of course the last name, as any Armenian knows, we go looking for last names with IAN. It’s like, oh, is this person Armenian?

J.P. Der Boghossian: And that person was Armenian! The book was a first of its kind. Literally, in that it was the first collection of poetry and performance texts published by an author identifying as bisexual and Armenian. That book was Princess Freak. And the author was Nancy Agabian.

Nancy Agabian: I’m Nancy Agabian. I’m a writer and a teacher and a literary organizer and a caregiver.

J.P. Der Boghossian: And this is a full circle moment, because long time listeners of the show will know that Nancy was our very first guest on This Queer Book Saved My Life, Season 1 Episode 1. All the way back on June 21st, 2022. In that episode, Nancy shared with us the book that saved her life: In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado and I recommend going back and listening to that episode after this one, because Nancy, Carmen, and I had a truly fascinating conversation.

Nancy is the author of the memoir Me as Her Again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter, which was a finalist for a LAMDA literary award and shortlisted for William Saroyan International Prize. In 2021, she won the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction.

AND, we have special BONUS content for you today. Nancy’s released her new novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations. I’ve read it, you need to too. And, after this episode, I’m including clips from Literary Lights, where you can listen to Nancy give a brief reading from her novel and then is in conversation with Aida Zilelian.

As for Princess Freak, I asked Nancy how she came to write it and she told me that it evolved out of the time when she first moved to Los Angeles.

Nancy Agabian: It evolved out of a time when I had just moved to LA. I was like a baby, a 22-year-old had just graduated from college. And you know, had lived a very sheltered life in an overprotective Armenian family. And I knew that I couldn’t really explore my sexuality. I had just, I came out in college, I was like 20 years old. And I also didn’t think I could be an artist if I stayed within the proximity of my family. So it was these two things that just felt like I needed to get out of there.

J.P.: Once in LA, she joined a multicultural workshop for women led by Michelle Clinton. The goal of the poetry workshop was to write into your silences. Now, as an art major in college, Nancy thought about doing performance art, but felt too shy about it. So she saw this workshop as a way to begin to explore that.

Nancy: And it just was such a safe space, creative space. I just felt like such a fruitful place for me to tell stories that I didn’t know I needed to tell, like why we didn’t talk about who we were racially as Armenian-American, struggles with coming out. Like, it just was this incredible audience of like-minded women from diverse backgrounds.

J.P.: And that experience built a collective voice in a way that Nancy hadn’t experienced before.

Nancy: The first time we did a reading in the workshop after like eight or ten weeks or whatever it was, it was just like an incredible moment of feeling seen and like that I hadn’t felt before. And yeah, it made you feel less alone, and it made you feel, helped you put yourself into perspective.

J.P.: And for Adrineh reading Princess Freak was a revelation.

Adrineh: It was just really validating finding a book, finding someone writing about being queer and Armenian, because I hadn’t come across anyone like that in my life before.

J.P. Der Boghossian: Here’s my conversation with Adrineh and Nancy.

[music]

J.P. Der Boghossian: Tell me more about that experience of how you were either seeing or not seeing your queer Armenian identity before you found Nancy’s book.

Adrineh: At the time, you know, surrounding myself with more and more queer people, mostly women who identified as queer and a lot of the people of color. And you know, again, kind of the unlearning that comes with maybe whether you’re in university or whether just at a time in your life when you’re sort of questioning things or coming to question what you thought about yourself and about maybe society, whatnot. And then trying to find your place in it and also these questions of like do I identify as person of color, am I white, where do I fit in and I know this is a topic that’s also come up in Nancy’s work I read an article I think from you that just finding again someone else explicitly saying what I’ve been sort of questioning or thinking about in my head and finding trying to figure out where I fit in within the spectrum of in terms of like ethnicity or yeah.

JP: You mentioned the word unlearning. What were you unlearning in the moments of, let me restate that, sorry. You mentioned the word unlearning. Can you unpack for me what unlearning meant for you as you were trying to understand yourself in the world as a queer person, as an Armenian person?

Adrineh: Yeah, I think like, you know, as an Armenian person, maybe thinking like, in terms of kind of a traditional upbringing, you know, get married, have kids like just what you feel like is the norm or is normal and what is expected, definitely within my own family. And I think, again, and Nancy’s too, been mentioned in this book about the expectation that you’re going to marry an Armenian and an Armenian man, specifically someone of the opposite gender.

And just kind of like questioning all of these expectations of myself as a young woman, I guess, and just issues with my family, which, again, is reflected in Nancy’s work and that’s where I can also relate to that and unpacking that and realizing that I don’t have to be you know live that way or be kind of in a specific yeah have this specific experience

Of course, things also like sexism, you know, experiences that we have grown up with or feel but haven’t been able to name or really didn’t know just kind of felt like this isn’t right but not having an outlet or avenue to express that and therefore finding myself within this group of like queer, mostly women of color who were also activists who were like questioning and just kind of coming into my own within that space but not necessarily finding the Armenian perspective, which is what Nancy’s book brought to me.

JP Der Boghossian: When you were first reading it, what were the pieces that stood out to you, if you recall?

Adrineh: [laughs] Yeah, I did actually reread this book before on this podcast so I can like, you know, make notes.

Nancy Agabian: Haha.

JP Der Boghossian: Well, I’m curious about when you, if you can recall from when you first read it, what were the, what were the specific pieces that you felt were speaking to you the most?

Adrineh: I think her relationship with her family, because again, I also, for example, I did actually make some notes about how Nancy came out to her mom but not to her dad. Same in my situation. It was the same.

She mentions things about longing and guilt. And I think, wow, how Armenian is that? I just felt like every phrase, turn of phrase, like this is actually a book that I highlighted. I don’t now highlight books, like with taking like yellow highlighter and like, but at the time and definitely there were things that just sort of like jumped out at me.

I can show you one that I had. She says, it says, it’s on page 24, my friends are getting married and having babies and I still think about being loved enough.

JP Der Boghossian: Yeah absolutely, share it with us.

Adrineh: Not to say that my friends were getting married and having babies at the time, but definitely on that path, if we can say, and my feeling like, oh, I’m different from them and not wanting the same things and questioning other feelings like being loved enough. Yeah.

JP Der Boghossian (18:11.314)
May I ask where you were at in your coming out journey when you found Princess Freak?

Adrineh (18:17.618)
I was definitely in the process of coming out. I think I was more questioning whether I was, you know, gay, like as lesbian or bisexual, if I was, you know, also attracted to men, or really that’s just what I was kind of like taught or what we’ve all, of course we all grown up in the same mainstream society. And so just thinking like that I had to be with a man, I had to get married to a man, but just questioning whether it, yeah,

The bisexual rain arm, kind of gay, I guess, is where I was at. Because I was definitely coming out, but maybe wasn’t like fully, maybe fully out would be one way to put it.

So if I hadn’t picked up this book and hadn’t really come into my queer identity, like really accepted who I was and felt confident in that, which this book gave me, it’s very likely that I would have married the last man that I was dating, which was not that long ago. And I feel like my life would have taken a very different trajectory.

And I think it’s very powerful to say that, that a book not just saves your life, but changes it so drastically. And I am so happy about who I am now, who I’ve become, and so glad that I didn’t make a different choice, which was to get married to an Armenian man. Very traditional kind of experience, because my life has been richer for it, for sure.

[music]

J.P. Der Boghossian: Part 2 of our story in 30 seconds. First, I’m hosting a new show! It’s called The Gaily Show. And it premieres on December 2. We are presenting it in partnership with AM950 Radio: The Progressive Voice of Minnesota. The Gaily Show is all about LGBTQ culture and entertainment in Minnesota and beyond. Also it’s a video podcast! #makeuptutorials. So, you can listen every Saturday from 2pm – 3pm on AM950 alongside episodes of This Queer Book Saved My Life. If you don’t live in Minneapolis, you can use the TuneIn app on any device to listen. Or you can watch The Gaily Show anytime on AM950’s YouTube Channel or on their Facebook page. Just search for AM950. More info at thisqueerbook.com/gailyshow.

Finally, all the books on our podcast, plus a hell of a lot more are available to you to buy at our Bookstore. Powered by Bookshop.org, our books are on sale, have free shipping, and support indie retailers. Follow the links in our show notes, on our website, or go to bookshop.org/shop/thisqueerbook.

And now. Part II of our story: How to allow for joy in our lives

[Armenian music played on a Duduk]

My first degree was in theater, specifically acting. And as I reflect back on that time, I think that what drew me to the theater was the idea that I could be onstage and everyone would have to think of me as someone else: the character that I was playing. They would see a different look, hear a different voice, observe a different body. And they would have to accept it, at least for the duration of the play. I think it was very important to me that people see there was more to me. That I wasn’t who they thought I was. And, it also, quite literally, allowed me to mask myself from myself. I didn’t have to be me. Because I didn’t want to be me. That’s what I think of when I reflect back on that time. When I read Princess Freak for the first time, putting together the Queer Armenian Library, I remember being struck by the idea that you could use performance to tell your own truths. How scary I would have found that to be. So I wanted to ask Nancy what did writing and then performing her art unlock for her? When was that spotlight like?

[music ends]

Nancy Agabian: I think that creatively it was helping me to be a person in the world. I was incredibly shy and insecure the performance stage gave me a place where only I was talking, no one was interrupting. But I think I knew that I was creating in a conversation because I was going to all these performances and readings and we would do talk backs and Q&A’s.

I think it was our way to learn about each other. It was like I wanted to directly connect with an audience. I didn’t want to be glued to my piece of paper, was one thing it gave me to perform. But knowing that it could lead to conversations, that felt really meaningful. And

You know, like I would go see a performance by Annie Sprinkle or Karen Finley or Holly Hughes or Tim Miller and knew I would be so moved by these personal stories that would illuminate a queer reality, that would challenge the status quo. So it was like empowerment, you know? I think that was a big goal. So…

just being hooked into that energy, you know, helped me individually, but also to feel part of something. And I did not think much at all. Like, I didn’t think about connecting with Armenians at all at this time. That came later. I just, I don’t think I because the Armenian community in Massachusetts is its own thing. And like kind of conservative and old, old immigration, like from 19th century. And LA is, when I went in the 90s, you know, so different, so diverse, recent immigrants from Iran and Lebanon and all over the place.

So I couldn’t even imagine, like I didn’t even know what the Armenian community in LA was really. I felt very separate. I wasn’t doing performances in Glendale. I was at Beyond Baroque and Highways in Santa Monica on the west side and Glendale’s on the east side. Like the Armenian reality came later. There was one Armenian woman, the filmmaker Tina Bustajian, who was in Michelle’s workshop. And we had an amazing connection and I was very grateful for her. But it’s not like I felt like, oh people don’t understand me and Tina does, you know, it was we were all part. I think she helped, I think if I had been the only one it would have been a different story.

Adrineh:
Yeah.

Nancy Agabian: But we were like part of a crew of queer women who, you know, were like happy to be together and alive and go to lesbian bars and, you know, it was, we were in our 20s, you know, and we’re just like finding our community.

Adrineh:
Remember those?

Adrineh: Totally, yeah. I was actually gonna ask you, Nancy, one of my questions for you about this book was, if in writing it you had hoped to reach other queer Armenians, if that was part of, maybe not your main intention, but something kind of in the back of your mind, or your, yeah, if, but it sounds like you weren’t really interested in reaching out to Armenians, but maybe to queer Armenians through the publication of Princess Freak?

Nancy Agabian: Yeah, there’s a line, you know, where, and I think it’s in my gay family where I say something like, I think I’m the only gay Armenian or queer Armenian, and then I question and say, well, that’s ridiculous because there are gay Armenian people in my whole family. But I don’t, yeah, it was not.

Adrineh: Right.

JP Der Boghossian: Hahaha

Nancy Agabian: I think that came later, Adrineh, like I befriended some Armenians, writers, through Shahe Monkarian, who saw some of my poems published in a local journal, and he started to invite me to perform in Glendale. And that was hard, because I didn’t know what I was going to encounter, and you know figured there’d be a lot of homophobia. And, you know, I think…that feeling you get when you perform or stand in front of an audience and you’re really fearful and you tell yourself, well, one person, if one person gets it. And so I think that maybe was when I’d want to reach a queer Armenian, but it didn’t come until later until like people read Princess Freak and I heard from queer Armenians where I realized there was this, this value to it that I hadn’t anticipated.

Adrineh: Because I actually met you, I think, through like AGLA, or there was the Armenian Gay Lesbian Association of New York. There was that kind of connection through, so that also led me to find my own, or kind of create my own queer Armenian community here in Toronto. I’m based in Toronto, Canada, and trying to meet other queer Armenians. And so it was, I feel like I met you through that, and so I was curious whether your book, and your writing was also that avenue to reach out to other queer aliens. Because it definitely reached out to me.

Nancy Agabian: I think it came out right around the same time that I found AGLA. So it came out in 2000 and I think maybe I went to my first AGLA meeting in like 99 or 2000.

JP Der Boghossian: Adrineh, I’m curious what opened up for you afterwards, after reading Princess Freak. What were you able to do or say that was new, that was life-giving?

Adrineh: I think it was more in, after finding the book and reading the book, first of all, also it was my introduction to Nancy. I wanted to say that I was like, and since then I have been following Nancy and her work. But that was the first time I heard of Nancy and yeah, I was introduced to her. But what it did was, of course it gave me more confidence in who I was. I, as I said, I was, you know, in the process of coming out. So queer identity is one thing, but specifically queer Armenian identity and not, and kind of.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I could like my thoughts. And as I mentioned before about kind of this sort of dichotomy of white versus person of color and not really knowing where to fit in but recognizing that a queer Armenian identity in and of itself can be complete. I don’t know what to say. Like just feeling like that. of course, is valid. And it positions me uniquely within both the queer space and Armenian space, Armenian spaces in those communities. And I just wanted to echo what Nancy said about maybe not specifically about performance, but about being with other queer diverse folks and feeling like there is that sense of community that maybe we weren’t finding in kind of other spaces, I guess, and just being in those places and being able to be all of you and that you are part of this community of other voices and yeah, and just being able to kind of express yourself fully, not having to hold back.

JP Der Boghossian: Could you share a story? You were talking about AGLA, and I’ve only found AGLA through the internet. And I don’t think it’s still functioning, I don’t think anymore, but I was so jealous reading all the posts and the events that they were throwing or hosting. So I’m curious, is there a particular story that you have of a moment where you were going to an event or being in a community that was really heartwarming for you or life-affirming for you? And like, ooh.

Nancy Agabian: or even in Toronto, like, or maybe also in Toronto.

JP Der Boghossian: Oh yeah.

Adrineh: Yeah, I mean, I think, I don’t know about how AGLA kind of started, but you just sort of, you find one other person, queer Armenian, and you find another, and you know, you kind of like…connect with each other and decide like we need a space or just because we do want to find other queer Armenians. And I was trying to actually make more of a formal organization similar to like Agla, but the people that we’re coming to are like kind of, I don’t want to say events, but they’re more just gatherings.

I guess maybe meet at a restaurant or we’d meet at the local community center and our kind of make the village, we call gave me neighborhood. And people would just really wanted to like socialize. There wasn’t a need for more of a structured organization, but just a space to be able to meet other queer Armenians. And there were people who were afraid to come, who didn’t, that I knew that didn’t want to come because they were like, well, what if I see somebody else that I know, or they’re going to go tell like a family member, or it’s going to kind of come back to them and they’re not completely out. And so there’s definitely a lot of issues to navigate with just trying to get queer Armenians together.

JP Der Boghossian: Thank you for that. And Nancy, I would be curious…[laughs] Can I ask…

Adrineh: About the crochet penis?

J.P.: Can I ask about the crochet penis?

Nancy Agabian: The crocheted penis, that was, I think, one of my first ones. And it’s a series of poems. I lost my grandmother at the same time I was dating a new guy and having intense feelings about.

sex and not liking it and struggling really hard with it. So I, my grandmother taught me to crochet. I don’t remember where the idea first came about, but I, the perform, throughout the performance I crochet a phallus and I have a red, it’s a red ball of yarn, and I talk about my feelings about these intersecting experiences, and I do tie it into my grandmother as a genocide survivor. And yeah, it was memorable, because I wore white pajamas, I sat alone on a stage.

You know, with the hard light on me with, you know. I did it several times around the city, you know, times when I couldn’t see a soul in the audience because of the lighting and other times where people were really present. And I did do it for an Armenian audience at one point. And there was a couple my parents aged in the audience and they were very supportive and that was, yeah, that was life changing, you know, that could exist. And there was also someone who, a woman who was a literature professor who was really offended and couldn’t handle it, this kind of open discussion about sex and sexuality and like stormed out and she later would come to other performances and kind of, I wouldn’t say stalk me, but it was an expectation that she would, you know, respond very negatively and make a scene and walk out.

JP Der Boghossian: Really? Ew.

Nancy Agabian: Really! And it could have been a lot worse. And like at one point, I wrote about this in Me as Her again, that people were mostly in opposition to her. Like one time she walked out and people were like, oh, don’t listen to her. And then this like conversation arose out of it like what is it about sex and sexuality that’s so threatening to Armenians? And I’d never had a conversation like that in public before. So yeah, that performance, crochet penis, it did travel.

I’m glad it’s in the book. It wasn’t my idea originally to include performances. The editor, Fred Dewey, who was the director of Beyond Baroque, I had showed him this poetry manuscript and he was like, what if we put the performances in it? And yeah, I’m very grateful he made that suggestion.

JP Der Boghossian: I think one last question for both of you that’s following up on that, Nancy, because so much of queer Armenian literature is about giving voice and representation right for the first time. So I’d be curious from both of your perspectives of why is it so hard to talk about this in the Armenian community, queerness and sexuality, but also what would you like to see more of in this conversation? Like what would you want to see?

Adrineh: I think what makes it hard is you said queerness and sexuality and I think we need to start with sexuality which is that’s as Nancy just said like talking about sex and sexuality is just taboo. I’m not sure that that’s just exclusive to Armenian communities obviously but definitely I think in our experience of growing up and so queerness is just kind of I guess

The view is that it just makes sexuality more, is more top of mind, is more explicit, because we’re talking about who you love and who you sleep with. And another piece that I think might be why it’s difficult is that Armenians, you know, we’re survivors. We talk about the genocide, we talk about just in general being survivors, and anything that threatens that survival is…is going to be considered, yeah, just difficult to talk about and not welcome. And so that is where the challenge I think lies more so, the fact that it threatens our survival as Armenians.

What I would like to see more of, I mean, I’m all like more diversity of voices and we talk about, you know, queer Armenian identities already are diverse, but within our queer Armenians, there are a lot of, there is a lot of diversity, you know, experiences of people outside of North America. You know, we hear more about Canadian and American queer Armenian stories, but people outside of North America, people who are in different relationships and…just different abilities, different experiences. And I think that’s what I would just like to see more of.

JP Der Boghossian: And Nancy for you?

Nancy Agabian: I would echo what Adrineh said about the survival. I think there’s a respectability politics that plays into it. Like, oh, we don’t talk about that kind of thing, assimilate and be successful. And sex and sexuality can have this very negative connotation. I mean, I do think religion in the Armenian community is probably part of it. But I think the body, like…If part of our healing from genocide has to also be through the body. And I think some of the healing from trauma gets filtered through sex and sexuality and pleasure and like guilt about pleasure and So I Guess I would like to see more conversations about that like thinking about sex as healing and

Adrineh: Definitely.

Nancy Agabian: that I don’t know that I’ve ever heard that conversation before in an Armenian context. And I think…probably queer Armenians have discussed it and I haven’t found that yet. You know, I think it’s probably going around. Yeah.

Adrineh: I definitely think that we need more stories, like speaking about sex, but pleasure, that we can allow ourselves pleasure, but also joy, like again, talking about being survivors and, you know, history of trauma, and there’s just so much I feel like what’s missing is recognizing also the joy that we can experience and we should experience as Armenians, as queer Armenians, and to allow for pleasure and joy in our lives.

Nancy Agabian: Yeah, more queer Armenian joy. And there’s a lot of it going around, so that’s wonderful, but definitely more.

I think we need to promote the Queer Armenian Library, which has been an incredible resource and has brought so many of us together and illuminated so many other books and media that we didn’t know about. So thank you JP.

Adrineh: Yes! Yes, I second that. Thank you.

Nancy Agabian: Can you say a few words about the Queer Armenian Library, JP? Ha ha ha!

JP Der Boghossian: Ahahaha. Yes, I can. So you can go to QueerArmenianLibrary.com. But we have a managing editor, Natalie Cruz, and I are going to be rolling out a lot of new additions to the library this fall. And what I’m really excited about is that Natalie is an art historian. And so she’s going to be building out the art wing, if you will, of the library. And so there are some really amazing new entries, or titles rather, for folks to peruse. So keep checking in. I just looked, this in the mid-August we have had over 11,500 visitors to the library since it launched in November of 2020. I had no idea that we would ever reach that level. You know, you think of the community and it’s smaller. So I thought, you know, this is gonna be a great resource for folks, but to have over 11,500 visitors is just, it’s blow my mind. I’m so happy to see like when on WordPress, you get a little map and they shaded in a pink, of course, which is amazing, when you have people viewing from those different countries and like the whole world is pink. And I just think that is spectacular.

Adrineh: And I hope there are people from Armenia as well.

JP Der Boghossian: Definitely, definitely.

[upbeat music]

J.P.: I’d like to thank Adrineh and Nancy for joining me on this episode. Truly special as these types of conversations between Queer Armenians haven’t been fully had or represented in media yet, but we are changing that. If you’d like to connect with Adrineh, you can do so on social. We’re including links to her LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter accounts in our show notes and on our website.

As for Princess Freak, well unfortunately it is on back order. However, we are including a link to Nancy’s newsletter. Sign-up there and you’ll get updates about re-printings.

Stay tuned in a few minutes I’ll be sharing clips from Literary Lights. Nancy will give a reading from her novel The Fear of Large and Small Nations and she is in conversation with author AIDA ZEE lel yahn.

Nancy is currently donating book sales of The Fear of Large and Small Nations to the Women Support Center in Armenia.

You can connect with Nancy at her website nancyagabian.com. She is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. Links in the shownotes and on our website.

[theme music]

That’s our show for today. Reminder to stay tuned in less than a minute we’ll have clips from Literary Lights featuring Nancy and Aida.

I’m hosting a new show that debuts on December 2. It’s The Gaily Show! Listen live on AM950, AM950radio.com, or through the TuneIn app. It’s in video so you can watch it anytime on AM950’s YouTube channel or Facebook page after December 2. We will also have it on our website.

Our next episode of This Queer Book Saved My Life drops December 12. I’ll be in conversation with the Poet Laureate of Portland, Maine, Maya Williams, about the book that saved her life: The Color Purple.

Our podcast is executive produced by Jim Pounds. Our associate producers are Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Jonathan Fried, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olilla, Joe Parrazo, Bill Shea, and Sean Smith. Our Patreon subscribers are Steven D, Steven Flamm, Thomas Mckna, and Gary Nygaard.

Permission to use clips from Literary Lights provided by Olivia Katrandjian and the International Armenian Literary Alliance.

Our soundtrack and sound effects are provided through royalty-free licenses. Please visit thisqueerbook.com slash music for track names and artists.

We’re on social media, you can find us on Facebook, Bluesky, or on Instagram, but we’re no longer on the anti-LGBTQ Twitter. As always, you can connect with us through our website, thisqueerbook.com, and if you want to be on the show, fill out the form on the home page.

And until our next episode, see you queers and allies in the bookstores!

[theme music ends]

And now clips from Literary Lights, a production of the International Armenian Literary Alliance, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, and the Krikor Clara Zohrab Center. Featuring Nancy Agabian in conversation with Aida ZEE lel yahn.

To watch the entire event, go to armenianliterary.org

[Unfortunately, we do not have a transcript available for Literary Lights.]