Gay Games 2: Russian lesbian dancers are locked away

“For some of my students, their parents don’t even know about the fact that their child is gay,” says Yulia Zhdanova, the coach of a Russian team of lesbian dancers. This is the second of four articles about gay athletes from repressive societies who competed last month in the Gay Games in Paris.

Yulia Zhdanova, heterosexual coach of a Russian team of lesbian dancers who competed in the Gay Games. (Lucas Barioulet photo courtesy of AFP)
Yulia Zhdanova, heterosexual coach of a Russian team of lesbian dancers who competed in the Gay Games. (Lucas Barioulet photo courtesy of AFP)

Agence France-Presse reported:

The dancers who lock themselves away

For a group of lesbian dancers in Russia, what should be a simple training session is often complicated.

“For some of my students, their parents don’t even know about the fact that their child is gay,” says Yulia Zhdanova, their heterosexual coach, who won the gold medal for International Latin dance at the games, which is open to all athletes.

“After another sport club was beaten by Russians, we have to lock the door when we train.

“It’s hard for us to find funds to buy our dresses. But I don’t like to fight, I prefer diplomacy.”

In Russia, homosexuality was illegal until 1993, a mental illness until 1999 and since 2013 the law punishes acts perceived as promoting homosexuality to minors.

“For some Russians, being gay and lesbian means something abnormal, immoral and almost like a disease.”

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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