Yes, you read well. A QUEER culture festival in Saint Petersburg... attended by 2700 people. Photographers, dancers, poets, scientists, musicians from Russia, Sweden, Israel, France and Italy delighted and inspired audiences for 10 days. At least 160 publications have been printed publications in major St. Petersburg newspapers and lifetime magazines, as well as on the internet media. Most encouraging of all, 90% of all these publications are clearly non-homophobic reports – not scandalous or “yellow-press”, the like of which has never before been seen in Russia! 16 300 people visited the site of the Festival www.queerfest.ru. All this makes the Festival an unprecedented success in drawing attention to LGBT rights in Russia.
This is cruelly necessary, because this success has not been obvious. The Union of Artists Exhibition Center (formerly planned as photo exhibition venue), under the pressure from the St. Petersburg authorities, terminated the contract only one day before the opening of the Festival. But within 24 hours, a new venue was found, hundreds of people still found their way to the opening, a letter in support of the Festival was signed by 1600 people and 30 organizations. Just after the show, the milicia irrupted in the club and threw us all out on the street in the middle of the night, because of a "bomb alert". We could all go back after an hour in the freezing rainy night - and continue to celebrate our rights.
"Homophobia": Océan on Stage with Eyes Wide Drag, ironically the last performance before the milicia irrupted into the backstage area
On Friday night, there was an interesting panel about art and politics, being an artist, or be a citizen. But - you can not divide, you are - even as an artist - a citizen. You can not chose, you cumulate - in case you're an artist, however with a film, a painting, a photography, a performance, your mission is to transport a clear message, inspire with your interpretation of life, your perspective. It is political the very moment you express yourself - as an artists. And it is your responsibility to articulate a clear message, make yourself understandable. But ths doesn't make you less a citizen, and certainly not more than a citizen. Because as a citizen, you also have the choice - so keep silent or speak out. No need to go on stage. The street is enough.
and as a little bonbon for hardcore-fans, here you can see yourself what the show looked like: