Russia’s QueerFest: ‘important as never before’

Russia’s 12th annual QueerFest will start tomorrow, Oct. 8, in St. Petersburg. “In the current times of aggravating state homophobia in Russia,” organizers say, “such events are important as never before.”


English-language promotional banner for QueerFest 2020.

The St. Petersburg-based LGBTQ group Coming Out, which organizes QueerFest, announced in an email today::

The Coming Out LGBTQ group is proud to announce that its annual week of queer culture (aka QueerFest) starts on 8th of October in Saint Petersburg.

The festival starts with launching the “TransMongolian” photo exhibition by National Geographic photographer Álvaro Laiz (you can also visit it online).

The programme also includes a discussion with the exhibition author, a public talk concerning the problems of LGBTQ parents, workshops, lectures with famous journalists and psychologists as well as some night parties.

On Saturday night, October the 17th, it all closes with the concert of popular Russian-Tajik singer Manizha. Several renowned brands such as Lush have agreed to become the partners of QueerFest this year, and the streetwear outlet Volchok has even launched the first Pride Collection in Russia in honour of the festival.

Scene at QueerFest 2017. (Photo courtesy of Coming Out)
Scene at QueerFest 2017. (Photo courtesy of Coming Out)

Taking part at all events except the clubbing part is free of charge for everyone, yet in compliance with Russian legislation we have to restrict admission to persons above 18 years old exclusively. For all those willing to join from any parts of the world, online broadcasting is available via the QueerFest website.

Participants and guests of the festival will be able to celebrate diversity, exchange their experience and points of view, make new acquaintances and receive support from opinion leaders and experts in various fields.

We believe that in the current times of aggravating state homophobia in Russia such events are important as never before. Ongoing repressions against gays in Chechnya, hate speech on state-controlled TV, recent homophobic amendments to the Constitution – against all odds we will keep on fighting for our rights and promoting our values peacefully. And we do hope that international community & media won’t miss the opportunity to stand out in support of Russian LGBTQ.

The first QueerFest was held in September 2009 and then every year at the end of summer. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coming Out team had to choose between the dates changing and trying to organize the entire event online. Eventually, October was chosen as the final option.

For more information, see the QueerFest website (in English).

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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