Days of melancholy
This series of portraits is focused on the life of gay people in Russia. It is a visual tale of melancholy, loneliness and uncertainty about the future.
In Russia the level of intolerance toward homosexuality has been rising sharply. A 2013 survey found that 74% of Russians said homosexuality should not be accepted by society. 16% of Russians surveyed said that gay people should be isolated from society, 22% said they should be forced to undergo treatment, and 5% said homosexuals should be liquidated. In June 2013 the national parliament unanimously adopted a nationwide law banning propaganda - the promotion of homosexuality to minors. Under the statute it is effectively illegal to hold any gay pride events, speak in defense of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.
This reality has driven the gay community underground, to the shadows. In Russia only 1% of the gay population dares to live openly. That is why the general mood in my work is dark and melancholic. The visual concept mirrors the idea that being gay in Russia is not a rainbow colored life. In our country rainbows have some very somber shades.
I am the only son of my parents. If I tell them that I am gay, I will get nothing for myself, but they will be absolutely devastated. All sense of their life... just bang! ... it will get rotten." Sasha Shatilov, 22 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
My mother's reaction was "it is a teenage thing, you'll grow out of it, you simply haven't met the right girl yet." The most ridiculous thing is I was already 26." Pavel Kostin, 44 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
My grandfather was a very clever and acute person. I think I was about 9 or 10 years old, I don't remember, but once he asked me directly "Are you gay? " I answered like "What's a gay?" Sasha Zhelezkin, 26 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
When my parents lived together, they wanted to build an extension, bought the dump-truck of sand and delivered it to our yard. Then they got divorced, but the sand still remained lying in the yard. So I had a sandbox, and all my friends always hung around with me." Maxim Lisak, 28 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
I haven't communicated with my mother for about 3 years. The reason is her homophobia. She said that people like me have to be killed, burned, castrated. It shook everything I knew about her and ever felt for her. It is strange that I was brought up by a person like her. How could I even have been born by her?" Jenya Pirozhkov, 25 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
I can judge girls aesthetically, well, kind of like pictures in a museum." Maxim Kubrak, 21 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
The meaning of life is to live your own life. Not someone else's, not illusory, but full. To breathe with two lungs instead of one and say "I don't need my second lung." Dmitry Musolin, 42 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
When it came to kissing a girl, I started laughing." Oleg Koptsov, 27 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
When I was 6 years old, I told my mother that I wanted to pierce my ear. She asked again if I really wanted to do it and then did it. The next day for the first time I heard people calling me a "faggot". Fedorov Anatoly, 23 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
I'm trying to prepare myself for loneliness, I don't cherish any illusions about surrogate mothers and mythical children that gays can adopt. I picture a scenario where there is no one to bury me." Dima Kasatkin, 28 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
I used to work in the criminal investigations department. You know how it happens, the colleagues say "Let's go to the steam bath, let's invite girls." I answered "No thanks. I gotta go," and people started to ask questions. Then they began to say to my face directly "What a police officer you are..." I had to leave my job because of this discrepancy. I mean, not because of a professional discrepancy." Alexander Novikov, 45 years old, at his home, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.