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Russia: QueerFest 2016 aims to be more inclusive

QueerFest announced:

ANNUAL RUSSIAN PRIDE FESTIVAL “QUEERFEST”: SEEING THE INVISIBLE

Scene from QueerFest's independent music concert, before the bomb threat. (Photo courtesy of QueerFest via Facebook)
Scene from QueerFest’s independent music concert in 2014, before it was disrupted by a bomb threat. (Photo courtesy of QueerFest via Facebook)

The time has come for the 8th annual pride festival “QueerFest”, which will take place September 15-25 in the streets and venues of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The topic of this year’s festival is “Seeing the Invisible”. QueerFest wants to give voice to the groups within both the society and the LGBTQ communities, whose existence is invisible and whose problems are silenced. These are LGBTQ living with HIV and LGBTQ with disabilities, transgender* people and people with non-binary identities, LGBTQ families and LGBTQ survivors of domestic abuse, and many more. Organizers would like to invite guests to learn and share the experiences that are often silenced or left behind.

QueerFest 2016 is aiming to be more inclusive. In addition to the variety of events and topics covered, this year’s festival is providing space for LGBTQ groups and initiatives from regions of Russia (Moscow, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk), and post-soviet countries (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine) to organize their events as part of its “Open Space” program. QueerFest will also provide sign language translation and the main venue will be equipped with wheelchair ramps.

The program includes artists and activists from Great Britain, Iceland, the US and is built around the main event – photo exhibition – featuring project “The Kids”, authored by American photographer Gabriela Herman. The traditional closing concert September 25 will be headlined by Sian Evans (popular English group Kosheen), whose debut album “Resist” received “platinum” status in the UK.

QueerFest has grown and developed over its long lifespan, professionalizing and diversifying its program, attracting well known-artists and activists, and audiences from around the world. But one thing stayed common to all the years: the extreme pressure from authorities and homophobic activists to disrupt the event, using all methods: from pressuring venues to discontinue the rent hours before the event, to fake bomb threats, to hooligans spraying putrid liquid at the event participants.

This year, the opening of QueerFest is three days before the local and federal elections. This could be a curse, or a blessing, but overall, we don’t foresee our security situation to be any different. We still have plan “B” and plan “C” in place to move the events to different venues at the last minute, to make sure our guests stay safe and our diverse and rich program is realized,” says Ana Anisimova, QueerFest coordinator.

Stay tuned to our news (Facebook or Instagram), join us online, and help spread the word about QueerFest. Thank you for your continued support!

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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