Russian Teen Fights Homophobia on Twitter
With the Russian government passing its new laws on gay "propaganda", it has effectively created one of the most hostile climates on the planet for its LGBT citizens. LGBT Russians face discrimination, entrapment, and violence, and are unable to go to the authorities should they become the victim of a crime. This has caused many gay Russians and LGBT advocacy groups to go underground, often relying on the anonymity of the web to stay safe. One activist is choosing not to remain anonymous, though, and has taken to Twitter to advocate for his fellow LGBT Russians both nationally and globally. The account is @ru_lgbt_teen, and currently boasts almost 700 followers. The account's administrator recently say down for an interview with Vice Magazine.
"Generally speaking, you have a gay teen being seen as a 'disenfranchised deviant' in the eyes of society and the state. People are different, but the male members of society are trying to avoid having anything to do with gays, [because they don’t want anybody] to think that they are gay. In Russia, gays are not people."
In terms of the actual content of the account, much of it is standard fare for any teenager on social media: personal life updates, snapshots of his daily activities, his periodic struggles with depression. His current home, however, as well as his willingness to display his homosexuality, makes it much more revolutionary. He also tweets updates on Russian news, as well as homoerotic historical depictions of men from Russia's artistic past. Thanks to the release of the Vice interview, many have also reached out and expressed their support for the Twitter account, which he occasionally retweets.
"In real life, I do not know of any other LGBT teens. But on social networking sites, I talk with several kids from other cities. I would not say that their problems are drastically different from my problems. Not all of them know what it means to be an outcast at school, but they know firsthand what it means to be an outcast in society as a whole."
He also occasionally tweets the desire to leave Russia and seek asylum abroad:
"I would very much like to leave Russia. I would say that for me, it is a kind of an obsession at the moment. I can't be granted asylum, because I cannot prove school bullying, and I do not have the mental health or the mental capacity to protest to help the gays. But that does not mean that I am not doing anything to leave Russia. In the fall I will start learning German, and I plan to study for a few years in Germany. For me, this is one of the most accessible options in terms of my financial situation."