Russia: LGBT Life through Personal Stories.

Some go to the action and try to behave openly. Others live a normal life, without advertising their orientation, and do not understand what they need to fight for.

While other countries of the world legalize same-sex marriage, Russia is tightening legislation. LGBT people from Russia talked about the difficulties they faced and whether they felt safe in their own country.

Some go to stocks that rarely end peacefully, and try to behave openly. Others live a normal life, without advertising their orientation, and do not understand what they need to fight for.

Nastya , 38, journalist; bisexual (Stavropol, Petersburg):

  • I’m open bisexual. This does not mean that I am talking about this when I meet people. No, I just do not hide. Sometimes it is difficult, because in Russia you never know how to react to this. Being open to Russia may not be safe.

Of course, I was not so open while working at the university and in the public service. Gradually, I began to realize that it was better to look for work, where I would feel comfortable in this regard. Now I am in a wonderful team, where my orientation is accepted as the norm by the majority of those people with whom I interact.

I became open after the fireplace (coming out – “opening”, “exit”) in front of my parents. It was 29 years old. I didn’t want my parents to learn about my homosexual experience not from me. I realized the exit not as a bisexual, but as a lesbian. So it was easier at that time. I did not want many explanations and parental hopes that I could still “become heterosexual.” Parents accept me. They don’t understand much, probably to the end, but they respect my personality, and most importantly – they love me. We did not conflict with my orientation. But I understand that if I have a family, same-sex, with a child, and we come to stay or stay in the house, then, most likely, it will not be presented to the neighbors as something that the daughter came with his wife, or partner, and a joint child .

Do I face rejection? Yes. One day, a guard in a pie asked me and my beloved to stop hugging. More precisely, he said: “Do not do it,” when we stood just embracing. He argued that “moms with children” are watching. But I can defend my borders. So he walked away, and we continued. And I think that there is nothing more important for a contribution to changing the attitude of an intolerant majority towards LGBT people than being visible, continuing to hug, dance as a couple, continue kissing in the subway and other public places.

What do I feel is a real threat? I am vulnerable as a mother. I have a minor son, he is 16 years old. And the state appointed me as his enemy when it passed a law banning LGBT propaganda among minors. I am a beautiful mother, an interesting person, who has something to appreciate and respect, and at the same time I am bisexual. That is so possible! And I insist that this is possible, and I will not hide meaningful relationships from my child, parents, friends and the whole world. But I understand that if someone does not like my behavior, this trump card can be played out, and women from guardianship bodies can appear on the threshold.

I do not feel as free as I would like, I do not feel safe. But I believe that Russia will become free. Including from the reinforced concrete framework of ideas about the “correctness” and “incorrectness” of someone’s personal life.

Alexey , 38, economist, designer; bisexual (Petersburg):

  • The first time I faced homophobia, when I lost my best friend. Her boyfriend from Dagestan, learning about me, forbade her to communicate with me. But in full, I felt homophobic aggression, becoming a LGBT activist six years ago.

Many closed LGBT people can think that everything is in order in our country. Until you take the guy by the hand in the street. Or you can not put a rainbow ribbon on a backpack.

On my first action in the center of St. Petersburg, where we produced colorful balloons, a few dozen ultra-right thugs came. One man with a cross screamed shrilly that we needed to hang and bury. Three meters from me, some guy snatched out a gun and fired at one of the protesters. Nearby, a mob raged with closed handkerchiefs on faces that chanted insults. We had to curtail the action five minutes later under pressure from the police. We left by bus, and in the evening I found out that an angry mob attacked the bridge with a bus with migrants, broke windows, beat people [according to another version, the nationalists attacked buses with gays, and the bus with migrants fell under their hands]. In this case, no one was punished.

Then I realized that we need to deal with it. Both my grandmothers were in besieged Leningrad. And here fascism is back. And then I went to the newly created “Alliance of heterosexuals and LGBT for equality.” A lot of things have been in these six years. And the first picket on Nevsky, when he was afraid to raise his eyes, and a hail of stones on the Field of Mars, and torn posters, and attacks, and hard detentions by the police. Threats on the Internet have become a familiar background. But we did not stop, we held dozens of actions, and now we are used to us in St. Petersburg. True, I lost my job last spring because of activism. After the comic action “LGBT special forces” I came to work from law enforcement agencies. The employer chose not to take the risk and get rid of me.

However, I consider myself a very happy person. During these six years, I accepted myself much better and began to live more openly. It’s great when you can not lie, do not hide, and just be yourself. Fortunately, no one turned away from me. I believe that we will be able to ensure that in Russia they will also treat LGBT citizens normally. But it takes time and effort.

Andrei , 29, teacher of English; gay (Rostov-on-Don, Petersburg):

  • I do not hide my orientation behind seven seals, but I don’t advertise deliberately either: of course, in the profession of a teacher it can do much harm. I already had a bad experience. I had to change the previous job because of a conflict with the parents of the students: someone got wind of my orientation, and they started harassing me. For four months I went to work, like a guillotine (denunciations rained down on the leadership), in the end I decided to quit and live peacefully. At the same time, I have excellent relations with the administration of this institution, they respected me as a teacher and did not stick my nose in my bed.

I’m not ashamed to talk about who I am and what I am, but not a walker to gay parades. That’s not mine. Most of my acquaintances and friends know about my orientation. These are very different people: and loners, and with families. Most often, the surrounding calmly perceive my orientation. People in most situations really don’t care at all. All these stories about the brutal life of the average homosexual – let’s leave the lovers to ponyt. True, people from my professional world are somewhat harsh in this regard. But in general, I do not feel oppressed, I do not understand what I have to fight for if I am gay.

My family doesn’t know that I’m gay. Many times I tried to confess to my mother, but decided to leave everything in its place. I’m so calmer. It is enough for me that I know that I am gay.

There are, of course, negative reactions to my sexual choice (and there were many), but I’m not rokhlya, I can answer. Do I feel safe? Oddly enough, yes. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Those who are negative about LGBT, I have nothing to say. And I do not think that I should say anything.

The attitude of Russians towards gay people certainly changes, but which way depends on the specific place. In a small town or outback gay will certainly be hard. In a big city, everything is different: there are many special institutions, more opportunities to get to know people like you.

How to make Russian society more tolerant? For me, no matter how trite it is, you need to start from yourself. Each of us. Who am I and why in this world, what benefit can I bring? It seems to me that these questions are deeper and more important than who has what orientation and who is sleeping with whom.

Dasha , 31, gardener, carpenter; Lesbian (Petersburg):

  • The fact that I’m a lesbian, they know not all with whom I communicate. Firstly, my personal life is not a topic that I am ready to talk to with the first person I meet. Secondly, I’m afraid. I know how our beautiful society treats homosexuals and queers [eng. queer – representatives of sexual and gender minorities], how much hatred, contempt and ridicule flow in our direction. And I also know about violence against LGBT people – both boys and girls. I know about gay murders. It all sounds scary.

I try not to show tender feelings for my girlfriend in public. I do not want all these sidelong glances, giggles and stupid questions like “and who among you is for a boy,” I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention and, possibly, unpleasant attention.

Before, it was even harder for me – my family did not know about my homosexuality. I did not tell anything, because I was afraid that my mother would not accept me. But once I realized that it was unbearable – to be silent and live in fear that someone would accidentally tell my mom about me.

My kaminat occurred a little over two years ago. It was the happiest day of my life: Mom said that anyone loves me and wants me to be happy. Her phrase: “My poor girl, how have you lived with such a burden all these years ?!” – I will remember forever. Then I talked to my younger brother, he took everything very calmly. After that, my life seemed to start picking up speed: I gave up journalism, because of which I earned a lot of frustration, became a gardener and a carpenter, stopped the difficult relationship and met a man who seemed to rediscover me myself.

But all this happiness is overshadowed by constant fear. In Russian society and at the level of state policy, people like me are considered marginal, something nasty, depraved and shameful. Some people even consider gay a threat to society, a threat to children. I can understand why so many people completely hide their homosexuality: it’s safer.

In Russia, the situation is not getting any better. In order for the attitude of society towards LGBTIC [LGBT and intersexual] to change at least somehow, it seems to me that more than one generation should be raised, educated on the principles of equality, respect for the individual and inalienable freedoms, and not only on ideas about the great past of the country. I’m not sure that this is possible in Russia. It’s probably easier for people here to be silent, afraid and hate. Although there is always hope for youth.

Michael , 25, businessman, designer; gay (Petersburg):

  • At some point I was tired of living a life that was closed: I had to hide, dodge, it took a lot of energy. When I opened up to my parents, it became easier for me to open up to other people and accept myself. My mother took her normally, her father went into a prolonged depression, he tries not to raise the question of his personal life anymore.

There are many difficulties. First, it is the inability to feel safe: it is some permanent sense of threat. Secondly, the impossibility of the manifestation of feelings on the street: when there is some kind of restriction, it is strongly suppressing, it introduces a depressive state, causes a feeling that I am not like everyone else, and something is wrong with me.

I have not yet encountered an aggressive reaction. But since I do not feel safe, I try not to shout about it.

I would advise people against LGBT people to go on a course of therapy and take up their personal life. But this requires courage and courage, and often those who have a negative attitude towards LGBT people, are cowards.

In Russia, everything is getting very sad, not only with LGBT people. In my opinion, everything connected with the LGBT theme will be discriminated even more from a political point of view.

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