Russia’s Queer Social Media Generation

Homophobia and Russia fit together like twins. Russia is known as one of the worst world powers for LGBT people. Besides these facts, in recent months a few youngsters established an online queer culture that looks very Western. Discover social influencers like Misha Maksimov, Tasha Tale and their entourage!

In the country where you can get imprisoned for 15 days for organising a Gay Pride and where the  ‘golden shower’ was invented, young queers are collecting hundreds of thousands of followers on  their social media. How do they do that? Just by showing how they live their lives. And waving a rainbow flag is just a part of that life. This will not be a very academic piece of writing. First of all this article wants to show positive image of the LGBT-movement in Russia. Second this article will have some gossip in it. But it is our task to show that youngsters around the world are fighting for equality.

As long as you don’t explicitly say you are gay, they won’t have a ‘problem’ with it.

Let me begin with Misha Maksimov. The 18 years old Moscovian has 334.000 followers on Twitter, 258.000 fans on YouTube and 225.000 people on Instagram. In particular on that last social medium he is feeling comfortable about his sexual identity. His Instagram Story looks like a city guide through Moscow with a rainbow flag on his back. ‘Tasha Tale’ and Kristian Kostov are two very good friends of him. You probably remember Kristian as the guy that got the second place on Eurovision Song Contest this year for Bulgaria. Bulgarian and Russian press are spreading rumours about his sexual orientation in the last weeks. He is definitely good in not answering the question. Tasha Tale’s YouTube-videos have been watched over 6 million times. On Instagram she is posing with her Vans and a rainbow flag. Remarkable: there are no subtitle for the image. This summarises exactly the perception of the metrosexual Moscovians on LGBT-issues: as long as you don’t explicitly say you are gay, they won’t have a ‘problem’ with it. That’s why Misha is always waving his rainbow flag, but never uses the word ‘gay’.

You should not expect a YouTube video with the title ‘Coming Out’ like Ellen Page, Troye Sivan and Tom Daley made, in Russia. What happens if you still try to do this? The 23 years old violinist Artem Kolesov can tell you everything about it. As part of the Дети-404(‘Children-404’) project, that has to help Russian youth with psychological problems attached to the discovering of their sexual orientation, the United States emigrated violinist made a coming-out video. From the moment he put it online he is not any longer on speaking terms with his parents. He also fears to be arrested from the moment he would arrive back in Russia. A similar story can be heard by the previous Kontr TV-presentator Anton Krasovsky. In 2013 he came live on air out of the closet. He was immediately fired afterwards. Nowadays he is a full-time LGBT- and HIV-activist.

Homophobia is more buried in the Russian society than just Putin saying to Oliver Stone that he does not want to shower next to a homosexual male. The queer culture in metropoles like Moscow and Saint-Petersburg cannot be compared to these in Western Europe. But there are a few youngsters that are going against the grain. They are living their lives like they want to live it and meanwhile they are convincing a lot of young people inside homophobic Russia on equality. To end this article I would like to quote LGBT-icon Troye Sivan: “Let yourself be the person you’ve secretly always wanted to be”.

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