QUEER RUSSIA: Intro

Queer scene in Russia, despite all the hardships it faces, is still strong and kicking hard. Allow us to introduce you to it with our new article series!

 

Russian culture can be called neither Western nor Eastern; it absorbs elements of both. This usually results in a unique combination that can be hardly compared to anything else. Russian queer culture can never be taken out of political and historical context, it cannot be judged or “consumed” from the perspective of Western stereotypes.

Its complexity and uniqueness is the reason why “mystifying queer Russian soul” (aka queer cultural stage) is so poorly covered in Western media, as it might be very, very confusing to the outsider eye. Especially after the fucked up (there is no other wording really) gay propaganda law was signed in Russia back in 2013, some people believe queer culture is RIP. But with the following series of articles I aim at convincing you: things are happening in the cultural landscape.

We’re not gonna be only talking about “after 2013” times, it would be a shame not to cover the wild queer music landscape of 90s, golden times of now no-longer-existing MTV Russia, or even go a bit deeper with Gogol’s Gay Tale (yeah, one of the greatest Russian dramatists from the XIX century appears to be gay, needless to say, I was never taught that at school, and these specific pieces from his bibliography were never mentioned).

Also, even though it might be hard to believe, but massive queer raves and parties are happening in Moscow and Saint Petersburg on regular basis, such as Back Room Party or Popoff Kitchen. Of course, Russian drag queens should be given very special attention too. At least because some of them have to live in constant fear: there are many homophobic groups that operate with impunity – may it suffice it to recall in the “Saw against LGBT” group (inspired by the film Saw), who, back in 2018, published a list of LGBTQ activists who were threatened to be hurt or even killed soon, and nothing has ever been done to stop them. Such things have to be mentioned because in Russia, potential danger and violence goes hand in hand with developing queer culture.

That’s just some of the topics we are about to cover in this little series. Stay tuned!

 

Text: Polina Korneeva
Illustration: Sonya the Moon

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