Anastasiia Fedorova is a Russian writer and curator based in London. She recently founded Russian Queer Revolution, a platform aimed to uplift the voices of Russian queer youth, showing the rest of the world what it means to be Russian and queer today.
Ph: Viktoria Guyvik
Pornceptual: Tell us about your project Russian Queer Revolution.
Anastasiia Fedorova: Russian Queer Revolution is a platform dedicated to celebrating Russia’s LGBTQI+ creatives. I started it in January 2020 because in the last couple of years I kept seeing so many artists from the new wave of Russian queer culture and wanted to give them more global exposure – but also create a space where all this work could exist as part of a bigger picture. Being part of Russia’s LGBTQI+ community often means facing harassment, violence, discrimination and erasure. I wanted to show that the Russian queer experience is not just pain – but also a great deal of beauty, joy, pleasure, pride, creativity and talent.
Ph: Roman Valero
I am from St Petersburg in Russia but have lived in London for the last 9 years. I feel like in this project my job is not so much talking about my own experience – but give other Russian people a platform to share theirs, and to show how multifaceted Russian queer culture and creativity can be. This project is a visual archive which proves that the words “Russian” and “queer” are not mutually exclusive.
Ph: Nick Gavrilov
P: Living in London, you have experienced queer culture that is influenced by a different polical environment. How do you think Russian youth is different from the Western one?
AF: I am truly fascinated by people who are making a difference for the Russian LGBTQI+ community today – especially by the ones working in culture. O-zine, an independent magazine about Russian queer culture, has had a huge impact on uniting people and giving them a safe and appreciative space to share their work. I can also mention such amazing projects as Popoff Kitchen party, Dragzina publication about drag, all the amazing initiatives on sex education Sasha Kazantseva has started…
Ph: Roman Valero
I think that so many people in Russia’s queer creative community are truly visionary and incredibly powerful for taking on risks and hatred which comes from the establishment. I also think that every Russian queer person who lives openly and proudly deserves endless respect and praise, and every Russian queer person is precious and special, regardless of whether they’re out or not.
The question about differences is interesting. I think one of the aims of Russian Queer Revolution is to highlight the unique cultural background of Russian LGBTQI+ creatives – but also create common grounds and unity with queer people in other countries. I love to think that we are all unique but we have a lot we share globally – and that’s why we should stand up for each other beyond borders.
Ph: Sonya Svinopanda
P: Recently, on February 14th, there has been a pacific protest in Moscow to politicize Valentine’s Day and remind people that love is stronger than fear. Considering what has happened to artist and LGBTQI+ activist Yulia Tsvetkova , who was prosecuted for sharing body-positive art and activist Anastasia Shevchenko who faces up to five years in prison for involvement in an “undesirable” organization-as well as many other murders and imprisonments of queer activists- have you ever been scared of the possible consequences?
AF: I think I don’t really have a right to be scared – especially considering that, living in the UK, I am in a much more privileged position than activists and creatives in Russia! Every time I feel a hint of anxiety, I am inspired by their phenomenal courage!
Ph/Model: Roman Kyandzhaliev
P: The recent arrest of Navalny, Putin’s most prominent opponent, sparked protests all over Russia, having Russians take the streets to fight against censorship, corruption and police brutality. Putin has been in power for over two decades and now more than ever Russian youth is claiming and fighting for their rights. What do you think has changed?
AF: I think the internet is a big factor, especially for the new generation. Their plans and aspirations, their ways of communications, their confidence and courage emerged in the world beyond TV propaganda and fear of authorities inherited from older generations. Russia has a long history of police brutality and institutional oppression, but it’s great to see that the young generation refusing to accept it as a norm. The internet also provides practical tools for connecting and organising.
At the same time, i think we should also give credit to all the feminist and LGBTQI+ activists who have been speaking out about what they believe in, doing educational work and going out into the streets for the last decade. I think they’ve truly paved the way for the awakening we see in the younger generation.
Ph: Russia For Gays
P: How is porn culture perceived in Russia?
AF: That’s an interesting question! I don’t think I can speak for the broader Russian public – I personally have always been very interested in porn, as a cultural phenomenon and for pleasure, and I’m also pretty open about practicing BDSM. I think generally, Russian society is still very patriarchal when it comes to sexuality, body and gender. In that sense, being queer can almost be extra liberating – you’re so far from fitting into the norm that you have no choice but find your own ways to express your sexuality and your ideas of beauty and attraction. I see a lot of interesting examples of queer artists working with the body and sexuality: photographers who are more focused on intimacy and connection; or the ones who are playing with gender. The porn industry in Russia is sadly sill hugely associated with abuse, and sex work is often extremely stigmatised. I think there is a bit of a way to go till Russia gets its own artful ethical queer porn, but I’d love to see it when it happens!
P: How can we all support and help the Russian LGBTQI+ community?AF: Support o-zine.ru by donating to their Patreon. Donate to OVD-info to help all the political prisoners who are facing unlawful prosecution after the recent protests. Commission, like, save, share work by Russian LGBTQI+ creatives – there is nothing like knowing that the global queer community cares.
Ph: Levi T