The plight of LGBT people in Russia is on all our minds. Dazed spoke with several young gays and lesbians in the former Soviet Union, some of whom had to obscure their face and use aliases to avoid reprisals at school, work or even at home.
Perhaps what is so disturbing about these interviews is that most of the subjects are just resigned to how widespread—how “normal”—homophobia and hatred is their homeland.
“I’ve never lived anywhere other than Russia, so I don’t know if there’s a place on earth where people live differently,” says Grigoriy, 17. “[Homophobia] is penetrated in my life so deeply that I don’t even feel it.”
My friends around me date each other in all possible combinations, while I get used to living with the idea that that life is just not for me. That love is not for me. And sometimes, I’m horrified to notice that I’m already okay with it.
I know I’m not wrong or corrupted. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles in Russia. If you’re straight, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, shut up and suffer, or struggle and suffer. I’m not sure which is worse.
Grigoriy lives in Krasnodar, a city of more than 700,000 in southern Russia. He’s still closeted to friends but was forced to come out to his family when his mother caught him looking at porn last year.
“The hardest thing is actually finding someone to date, because there’s no one—almost no one—who’s out where I live. It’s not like I’m alone in the jungle. I’m alone in the desert.”
He, like others interviewed in the piece, thinks of leaving Russia—but opportunities abroad are slim.
“Honestly, chances are that I’ll just rot here,” says Grigoriy. “I’m not as lucky as you. Please, don’t ever forget how lucky you are to be born where you were born. Sure, you have your troubles, but you have freedom and tolerance. You should make the most of the opportunities you have, out of respect for the people who don’t have them.”
For the full feature, visit Dazed Digital.