Grisha / Russia
“My name is Gregory. A very banal story, one very understandable to many LGBT people, happened to me. I mean those who live in Russia. This happened in 2011, in October. At that time I worked as a teacher of a drama group in an external school. Unfortunately, I could not be fully openly gay in this work, because in our country there is a blatant harassment of teachers, if it somehow becomes known that they are representatives of different sexual orientation. Nevertheless, in my free time, I was a volunteer and activist in the LGBT organization “ComingOut” and I still am. In that year, the notoriously scandalous deputy, Vitaly Milonov, began promoting his homophobic law banning so-called “homosexual propaganda”. And of course, the LGBT organization “ComingOut” and other human rights organizations of St. Petersburg actively opposed the adoption of this law.
We conducted a public campaign to draw attention to the problem, to disseminate information about that this law as discriminatory. We took to the picket lines. I participated in this campaign. And so it happened that after a series of pickets, which we carried out near the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, I was arrested by the police. I was detained with another activist. The police brought a charge of administrative offense against us. It should be noted that the charge was dropped due to lack of evidence. The police recorded my personal data, my place of work and my position. I calmly told the police that information. But the very next day in the press it was reported that two activists were arrested on the picket against charged under the homophobic law. And the news reports included my name and my place of work, and what exactly I do. It was published on several local news sites. At first I did not attach any importance to this.
Since I became more interested in human rights and the human rights movement, I was not afraid of any publicity and did not hide my civic-mindedness. At my work after my arrest, nothing changed. Only a few colleagues with whom maintained the closest relations knew about it. It took 2 or 3 weeks, and I started to think that maybe my detention remained unknown, and I would have no problems with the director of the school. But suddenly, the next time I came to work, I was urgently summoned to talk with my boss. I should note that from a purely human standpoint, I have no negativity towards my director. And I even think that this woman was genuinely worried for me when I started telling her about what happened and why I was arrested. She was worried about me. She felt that my position in life was wrong. She wanted to lead me on the right path. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that does not mean I have to agree with them if it seems to me wrong. We talked for almost an hour. She asked me why I do all of this? Why should I strive to take to the streets and to prove something on the rights of gays and lesbians? I answered her questions. I explained why discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is unacceptable in modern society. Our conversation seemed to be over. Then I asked – What should I do now in this situation? And she said that I have to resign from my job. I realized that she was very afraid of the publicity this whole situation could bring. She was afraid of problems with the parents of children that I have taught. She was afraid for their jobs. That certainly does not justify it. I admit, at the time I agreed to her proposal. I did not fight for my place of work.
After some time, I regretted it and berated himself for not showing resilience and not rebelling against this illegal dismissal. But I had my reasons, not to fight. I was worried about my colleagues, among whom were two gay men and a lesbian woman. And I realized that the scandal that would inevitably arise around my dismissal would attract the attention of the media, and this could in turn affect the jobs of my friends who have been more closed representatives of the LGBT community. I thought first of all about this. I understand that this work is more important to them than it was for me. On the other hand I as a LGBT activist I have somewhat changed my views on this position. The memory of that moment still makes me feel anxious and makes worry that I made a mistake. But I’m an optimist and I believe that everything that is done, is done for best.
After a couple of months after my dismissal, I was offered a completely different job, which I have been doing until now, and that brings me pleasure and satisfaction. I am currently working as a drag queen in a gay club, and in my performances I try to give people the thoughts and ideas of Russian LGBT activism. Namely that, despite the blatant homophobia and discrimination on the part of the Russian government, us, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, have no need to hide, have no need to be afraid, but on the contrary – we need to face the future, if so, it can’t be anything other than bright and cheery. Everything is in our hands.”
Would you like to help by donating? Please visit our DONATE page.