“More than half of Russians believe that members of the LGBT community are mentally ill”
I realised that I was bisexual late in life, at the age of 25. The realisation changed me a lot. For the next year or so, I struggled to understand who I was and the prejudices I had held on the issue. Since then, I’ve lived with my girlfriend for the last two years. Neither my parents nor hers know that we are ‘queer’. The only person who knows in my family is my stepsister.“Homophobia is something that is openly expressed in Russia”More than half of Russians believe that members of the LGBT community are mentally ill and need medical treatment. They think they should be segregated from the rest of society, or should at the very least keep quiet about their 'disease'. This kind of intolerance only got worse after the city adopted the homophobic law.There are very few people who are 100 percent open about the issue. We’re a community that doesn’t stand out and goes largely unseen. It’s difficult to live a lie all the time, so I’ve tried to make sure I’m surrounded by people who care. I am open about my sexuality with my friends. At work, I talk about it sometimes, but only with certain people.Homophobia is something that is openly expressed in Russia. For example, if I came out to all of my colleagues, I’m sure there would be some who would say ‘You want to have a child with two mummies? But you’re going to raise a pervert!'“There are a lot of gay people in Russia who are also homophobic”There are a lot of gay people in Russia who are also homophobic. For example, I know two women who have lived together for the past 10 years, but they have never, to this day, come out as lesbians. They can’t even imagine raising a child together without a man involved. There are a lot of women who are hard on themselves because they are ashamed. In a lot of cases, these women are left to deal with their issues on their own, because seeing a psychologist is something that’s still looked down upon here.“The queer fest…was a chance for me to be myself without hiding anything”The queer fest was a really important event for me. It was an opportunity to meet other members of the LGBT community, and also a way to meet different artists to discuss their work. It was a chance for me to be myself without hiding anything.