What's It Like to Be Young & Gay in Russia?
By Alex Panisch
The implications of the Russian Parliament passing the now infamous “gay propaganda” law have been felt throughout Russia. The law has effectively made members of the LGBTQ community enemies of the state. Not only are pride marches banned and queer organizations subject to fines, but teachers and psychiatrists are unable to help gay teens by telling them that being gay is normal, as this may be construed disseminating gay propaganda to minors. Many see Putin’s signing the bill into law as a sign that the government will condone violence towards members of the gay community. With the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games starting in under a month’s time, all eyes are on Russia.
In a five-part documentary, Vice News is examining what it’s like to be a young queer person in Russia. Vice UK editor Milène Larsson went to Moscow to see what it was like living in the virulently homophobic country. In Part 1, Larsson takes a ride in a gay taxi, reports on the rise of violence against members of the LGBTQ community by vigilante groups, and interviews a woman who runs a self-defense class for members of the gay community. In Part 2, Larsson interview Nikita Gurjyanov, a 17-yar-old gay rights activist. Part of Nikita’s work is to teach young gays how to protect themselves online, as members of anti-gay vigilante groups often find and lure their victims over the Internet.
Be advised, this documentary is incredibly difficult to watch and some of the footage is extremely graphic and disturbing. Parts of the documentary may be too much for some viewers.