Gay Literature in Russia
In the aftermath of Russia’s 2014 anti-gay law, the Russian literary community has come to rely on the work of writers from the countrys gay and transgender community.
Many of them have become bestsellers, and they’re publishing at a rapid pace.
But how do they feel about the new law?
We asked three writers and two critics from Russia’s LGBTQ literary scene what it means to be Russian and what they want to see from the next generation of writers.
Here’s what they had to say.
Anna Semenova is a Moscow-based writer and editor who has published in English, German, Russian, French, and other languages.
She is currently working on her first novel.
“The new law was supposed to help the gay community, but it’s already taken a toll on the gay writers,” she told me.
“There is a lot of fear among some of the gay communities in Russia, especially the younger ones.
Many young people have never experienced being gay and now they feel completely alone.
That’s why many of them are going to despair.”
Anna Semanova, who is gay, is currently finishing her first book.
“I think that the laws were meant to help gay people and that they were designed to benefit the majority of Russians,” she said.
“Now the majority is being denied their basic rights.”
She also believes that the new laws have damaged the Russian LGBT community’s image.
“Gay people are very popular in Russia.
I think the public knows that they exist.
So they can look at their sexuality as normal,” she continued.
“But the truth is, gay people are not accepted in Russia.”
Anna, who grew up in a conservative Russian family, came to Russia in her twenties to pursue a literary career.
“At the time, I was a very liberal person who didn’t really think much about sexuality,” she explained.
“When I got to the United States, I had a very strict religious upbringing.
My parents thought that I would grow up in an atheist family.
I never thought of myself as a lesbian or a gay person.”
But her sexuality eventually blossomed into a passion for literature.
“My family had always taught me about literature, so I thought I could use my talents to help others,” Anna told me, adding that her first love was to read.
“In Russia, there are many people who love literature.
And I think that they are just as happy to be queer as other people.”
Anna is a regular contributor to LGBT literary magazines and blogs.
“One of the most exciting things about the Russian LGBTQ literary community is that it’s really young,” she added.
“It’s also very diverse.
Most of them live in Russia and have a wide range of experience.
Some of them come from very conservative backgrounds.
They are not the most well-known or famous people in the community, so they can be a little more shy.
But I think they’re also extremely passionate about their work and they want it to be seen by the world.”
Anna told BuzzFeed News that she hopes to continue writing in Russia as long as she can.
“What I want to do is to write as long and as often as I can,” she remarked.
“Because I love writing about life.
I feel like I’m an artist who is trying to make a living and do what I love.”
She continued, “I hope that when I’m older, I can continue to write.
I want people to know that I’m here, and I’m trying to write.”
For the Russian gay community in particular, Anna has seen the law as a catalyst.
“This was not a one-time thing.
It’s a new reality for many Russians,” Anna said.
She said that she is hoping that the next wave of writers will be willing to fight for their rights.
“Many gay people don’t have any visibility in the media.
But they’re fighting for their equality.
The Russian gay and lesbian community is an active one and they are always ready to take part in the debate.
It shows that they want change.
They want it in this country.”
Anna hopes to see a more open Russian LGBT scene as the country’s future progresses.
“Russia has a lot to learn from the LGBT community,” she stressed.
“They have a lot going on in their country.
But it is so important that the country gets back to being a place where everyone feels accepted.”
Anna said that her experience in Russia has made her feel hopeful.
“For me, it was a great time to be in Russia,” she emphasized.
“Being a gay writer, I think it was very liberating.
Being Russian and being Russian, it gave me a lot.
It gave me the opportunity to feel at home.”