Five days of QueerFest have already gone by in one blink. We were meeting each other, listening and speaking with each other. Each passing day of the festival brought its own unique mood and atmosphere... And now, with half of the festival already behind us, we’d like to share with readers some feedback our guests have shared about QueerFest events.
Here is what our guests have said...:
Sergey Golubok, lawyer: "QueerFest is the most important human rights event in Saint Petersburg demonstrating a creative approach. A vulnerable and oppressed minority offers up a creative agenda, and does so very professionally and on a world-class level! It is a contemporary art, socially relevant and making each of us better."
Evgenia (on vk.com): QueerFest is my ten-day carnival of freedom. It's a territory of respect and acceptance for the uniqueness in each of us. Being able to be yourself and to get to know each person as an individual is so exciting! The right to be yourself, the right not to bend under others' perceptions of "duty" -- those are the reasons for a Festival of Queer Culture. I am smiling happily because I am once again part of this spectacular celebration!
Adm.Enot (on vk.com): "I am happy that we have such events in our country! Selfless and, probably, great people are trying to do something so that society and the government will see LGBT people and accept us as we are. They are trying to make life for LGBT people in this world better! Thank you to them!"
From our feedback surveys:
- "I wish for this festival to keep developing and to reach the widest audience possible. It is very important for LGBT people in Saint Petersburg to know that such events exist, as this gives them strength and hope. I hope that in a few years the situation in our country and in our city will allow for the festival to be conducted more publicly. Together we will win! Thank you too all those who are organizing QueerFest. It is very valuable and important for me to be present here."
- "I am feeling a warmth in my soul from being surrounded by good people, interesting photos, and in general a rainbow universe."
- "Everything is great! Hoping for development, globalization, and achievements!"
- "Everything is wonderful, the atmosphere is great."
Denis (on vk.com): "I went to QueerFest today. I'd like to share how pleasant it is to be in the presence of people who, despite all the hatred directed at them from our society, nevertheless remain so open and full of life. I am in awe of their courage to be themselves and to fight for their rights!"
Irina (on vk.com): "Yesterday I was at the meeting with Boris Dittrich. I liked it. He was a pleasant person with a very interesting biography."
From our feedback surveys:
- "I'd like festivals like this to happen more often."
- "The inspiring words from Boris are very valuable for me to continue by own work."
- "Thank you for organizing this festival. It is interesting and has a positive influence on LGBT people (in my opinion), as well as bringing positive emotions. Best of luck to you in your work. Thank you."
- "An excellent and inspiring meeting."
Nadezhda (on vk.com): "On September 19, the workshop "Women in the LGBTQ movement in Russia" was held by LBTQ space "Magma" in Saint Petersburg.
Men write history, and they write it in their own interests. With LGBT history, the same thing happens. It's enough to look at the news: gay movement, gay parade, gay, gay, gay.
The event was created in order to look at history from another perspective. The workshop was in three parts. First, we remembered those initiatives that came to mind without doing any research, and shared what we knew.
These initiatives were: the "Archive of lesbians and gays" in Moscow organized by Elena Gusyatinskaya, the lesbian-feminist magazine "Ostrov" organized by Olga Gert, the "Children 404" project organized by Elena Klimova, the direct actions organized by Elena Kostuchenko, and the parents' club in Saint Petersburg.
Then the organizers and participants of the event collaborated to remember the history of the LGBT movement starting with 1991 (the breakup of the USSR) and women's contributions to this cause.
We remembered Olga Zhuk ("Tchaikovsky's Fund"), and Masha Gessen (the first report to the United Nations Commission On Human Rights).
Some Saint Petersburg organizations and initiatives started by women include: "Coming Out", QueerFest, Side by Side film festival, a psychological support group, and a legal support group; Hana Kochetkova's research into "corrective" rape, which she has been conducting since 2014; also, of course, Internet resources starting with the VolgaVolga website (the first website for lesbians), all the way to the forum "Mir hardkornogo lesbotstva" (roughly: "World of hardcore lesbianism")
Among women we talked about were lesbians, bisexuals, and pansexuals. We also spoke about people who do not identify within the binary gender system.
The event wrapped up with a small discussion about people's impressions, experiences with sexism, and erasure or invisibility within activism."
From our feedback surveys:
- "This is a wonderful project. First of all, it gets at the heart of the festival's theme, and secondly it is a very, very important concept for Russia, where individuality is not valued or discussed. Let's further explore this topic! And promote this project!"
- "It is an enormous joy that Sarah is with us through these days. I haven't ever encountered a project in my life that touched me as much as "The Identity Project." Sarah is doing an enormous work for queer communities not only in the USA, but all over the world -- and her participation is QueerFest is proof of this. She is giving us love and inspiration! Thank you, QueerFest."
Illara: "I really liked the event, all of the presenters and the discussion afterwards. I heard many different and inescapably true opinions, and this diversity as well as the necessity for all of this discourse was both pleasant and impressive."
Bella Rapoport: "I am very glad that QueerFest exists, and I hopes that it lives on for a long time. I didn't expect an invitation from Asya to participate in this event, but I am was very glad to. I think it's awesome, and it's also a rare opportunity for me to express my identity (an opportunity I usually don't have, outside of maybe Facebook), and this is all very important. Today's event was helpful to me, as everyone who spoke after us gave me a lot of new information."
Asya Hodyreva, "Crisis center for women": "I am very happy to finally be a participant in QueerFest, as I've already attended for four years as an audience member, but this year we were able to organize our own event. I am very glad that we can finally unite the feminist agenda and the LGBT agenda -- it is long overdue, as we are working in the same direction."
Daria: "Really, today's event raised a lot of questions that hadn't occurred to many people. Women are a unique community, in which there are its own rules. In reality, it's not as simple to live in this community as it may appear. And a big part of this event was dedicated to overcoming these difficulties, and helping us understand that an important part of our lives is fighting for our own rights, ideas and thoughts. In general, today's event had such an atmosphere of openness and trust, it was very nice to be able to hear thoughts that are often hidden, all in front of such a large number of people -- it can often be difficult to open up even to one person, even a person close to you. This aspect of QueerFest, this trust, is a key part of the events for me, allowing us to understand that everything is not as scary as it may seem."
Yulia: "It's my first time at QueerFest. I came here and, at a minimum, I will have food for thought. At a maximum, I have been inspired to read new things, to meet some people, and to think somewhat differently than before."
From our feedback surveys:
- "I really liked the brochures about complex and little-explored topics that are not studied enough (such as trans* people in Russia)."
- "I like that events such as this one give us a chance to be with people who are close to us in spirit and values, and to discuss shared problems."
- "I wish for QueerFest to grow and to develop. May more and more people become guests and participants in the festival! Also wishing you luck, patience, and strength!! God save us. =)"