The 8th annual pride festival QueerFest opened today at a spacious art space in the center of St. Petersburg, in a warm and festive atmosphere. Over 220 visitors (up to the maximum limit of the venue) enjoyed the photo exhibition «The Kids» by Gabriella Herman from the US, who addressed guests in a recorded video. Other speakers were representatives of diplomatic missions of the kingdom of Netherlands and Sweden, representative of ILGA-Europe, Swedish human rights organization Civil Defenders, artists and activists whose art is presented in the program, and of course the festival’s organizers.
«The space for civil freedoms is diminishing in our country, it’s true. But it doesn’t mean the space for our human rights work has to diminish. The happy truth is that the more the space for civil freedom contracts externally, the more this space is expanded internally – inside the communities, inside ourselves. We become stronger, more diversified, more aware. We might not have the power to change the repressive laws, but we have the power to invest in people: to establish dialogue with the society around us, to find new allies, and to continue empowering the LGBT people of Russia. What can be more important?» said in her words of greeting Polina Andrianova, head of «Coming Out,» the group that organizes the festival.
The event took place without interruption and not a single counter-protester showed up.
«This is the first time in 8 years that we experience no attacks or pressures on the festival opening reception,» says Ana Anisimova, festival’s coordinator. «This is a great relief, but it’s only the first day of the festival, and we need to keep «on our toes.» No matter what lies ahead, the festival’s program will be realized in full, as is every year.»
There are 9 more days of the festival ahead, featuring workshops and discussions on the topics ranging from «Moving Beyond the Binary Sex and Gender», to «Intersex: Invisible Reality», to the final concert on September 25th by the lead vocalist of Kosheen, the UK «platinum» group.