Opening up to the society

Psychologist's comment. LGBT personal experience
Maria Naymushina
a psychologist of LGBT-group "Raduzhny mir"
There is one very painful moment in the decision to publicly come out: when people start to leave and turn away. It's very scary. But even worse is the moment of waiting: when a person is in a point A and fantasizes about how everyone will turn away from him. Many people whom I have had the opportunity to communicate with tell about this, but at the same time I have never heard any really monstrous stories. That is: there was an expectation of a catastrophe, but it did not happen. This, of course, does not relate to children of priests or simply very religious people. Although in America there were cases when the family repudiate the church, and not the child, but this is rather an exception.

I personally consider that opening up is better. Less neuroses, less stress. But there are those who choose to be in a point A constantly. There are those who hate LGBT activists. They say: "Why are you giving away and giving us away? They will soon begin burning us at the stake!

Everyone makes his own choice, and this is a very difficult choice. I do not decide for everyone, but I know that it often happens like this: a person decides to be silent, and then he enters the community of people who are open at least within the community, and the views change quickly. I see it throughout four years that I work in "Raduzhny Mir". Because when such a community appears in a person's life, he regains a sense of normality. In my practice there were situations when a person considered himself defective, unworthy of normal relations and love. A couple of years pass, the attitude to yourself changes, and love comes.

To open fully one should ripen. If a person believes that now is not the time to do this, it means that he does not have the resources. I am very scrupulous and attentive to this, so that not to push anywhere, to hurry up, "not to drag by the horns." Sometimes I am even inclined to slow down them. Sometimes it happens that a person visited a rainbow flash mob in St. Petersburg, returned and said: "That's it! I am going" I say: "Listen, maybe you will wait a week and come around?". If a person is really ready, then in a week he will really go and begin changing his life. And if he returns to his usual life and realizes, for example, that in case of a public coming-out he would lose his source of income, his house, some other basic things and decide to wait - this is also correct.

When a person is sitting and fantasizing about coming out and what happens after that, it is better to immediately list certain risks and look for ways to solve potential problems in advance. Teenagers do this "automatically". For example, they estimate in advance where they will spend the night if they are driven out from the house.

Also do not forget about physical security. Homophobes do not often kill. More likely to die under the wheels of a car than from the hands of a homophobe. But this if we are speaking about the societies where a progressive stratum that protects LGBT rights is already being formed, and the subject is somehow in the space of public discussion. What is impossible in Perm becomes absolutely real in Chechnya or Tajikistan.

Recently I am inclined to think that it is impossible and not necessary to prepare yourself to the manifestations of homophobia from the society, softening the soil of own consciousness, so that later, when someone will conditionally start to "rape" me, it would not be so unpleasant to me. Suppose I come to gynecologist. I am 36 years old and I have no children. And the gynecologist says: "Ah, you have no children! And what about abortions? Have you got any? You know, you do need children, you probably have migraines. In any case you will be geriatric mother..." and so on. If I had prepared myself - well, these are gynecologists, they are probably tired, tortured, they are fighting for Putin's plan to increase the birth rate - I would have sighed and said nothing. But she gets not into her own business at all! And in the situation when it does not threaten my life and health, I would say: "If you continue this dialogue now, I will go to your manager. What you do is called reproductive violence and pressure".

Indignation and hysteria are not always bad. If you are ready to protect your rights or the rights of the child, it is necessary to do this. Protection is the healthiest reaction. If in transport someone got up on my foot, I would not stand and think: may be a person had a bad day, may be it's not my foot, or may be my feet are too big? You should take the other's leg and throw it off. Off your foot or throat. Pain is something that should not continue. Discrimination and hatred are pure violence that cannot be tolerated.

Yes, we do not always have resources for protection. You need to seek them, and they are usually found in the outside support.
In 2015 Molotov cocktails were thrown to our office. Who did this, we do not know. We didn't report to the police: they would interview everyone who comes to Labris. That is, in this way we would set up the community. No one was hurt, but decided to move.

Then on 17th May people from radical activist movements attacked us - they broke into the event on the International Day of the Confrontation of homo / bi / transphobia and had a catfight. One of the participants received injuries.

We were undergoing that injury for a long time. We were recovering. Without even noticing that we began choosing closed places for events, made closed accounts in social networks. We had no incidents since that time, but little has changed in society. Like in 2015 people continue speaking in the language of hate. I myself feel this, I was regularly threatened in personal messages. I try not to respond. I know that these are only comments, no more.

We keep on working. We want to make this world better.
Sanjar, Kyrgyzstan
My advice is not to put off or wait. I personally can't spare my time on deliberation and time to gather myself up. You have to act.
Nicole, Azerbaijan – the Netherlands
The most visible stories are violence against trans women. They are absolutely real, I know these people, their cases are handed over to the police. I know the cases when trans women were robbed, raped, beaten, cut, tortured, something was burnt on their body. And when we go out to shout at all sorts of actions with posters, people ask: "Why are you yelling? Everything is okay!" It may seem that everything is fine, but - no, it is not.

I will keep on supporting the community. Everyone can say "Everything is bad, we need to get out." But my point of view is: if you do not like something - let's change it together.
Helena, Kazakhstan
Now I myself go to the prosecutor's office, to the courts, I write appeals to the police. I see the situation differently and I understand that here, too, it is possible and necessary to fight for justice. But the desire to protest for the sake of protest went away. Now the possibility to achieve changes inspires. Well, you never know in advance what your action will cause real changes. Maybe it will be easier for one person to deal with himself, and this is already a change. And then he will become an activist and will help others. He will help happen new changes already inside these people. Or he will not be afraid to come out for the defense of own rights, to be public, and this will cause new results that are important for all of us.
Yulia, Russia
Now I live with a simple rule: if someone asks me about my orientation in a new group of people, I will tell the truth. Just because I don't want to lie to people. To all the rest the advice is simple: open up only to those people whom you trust and only when you are ready to this. Unfortunately, in Russia there will be for a long time no such thing when anyone could inform about their orientation. Take care and be careful.
Denis, Russia
Recently I was not asked if I was gay. What will I answer if someone asks, I do not know. On the one hand, I do not want to be what I am not. On the other hand, I do not want any troubles. It is hard to bear bullying and to be forced to accept other people's values, and you find yourself in a kind of "depressed" state.
Dima, Russia
I came out to all friends, to colleagues and professors at the University, if the chance was presented; and when I started publishing, I came out to newspapers and magazines – as a writer and film critic who happens to be a lesbian; and then to make it more fun and more effective, I decided it's a great idea to come out on cooking shows, quiz shows, daily political and crypto-political shows, right-leaning dailies, in popular women's magazines…

Meanwhile, of course, not forgetting to keep coming out in the streets, in the elevators, at the gynecologist, to taxi drivers, at the pharmacy… Indeed, when you have a same-sex partner, each small step of your daily life, like taking a stroll, walking the dog, grocery shopping, going to the movies, sitting at a café, etc. becomes a prospective political battlefield.

In this sense, the crucial thing is to awaken the need for solidarity and understanding for all the coming outs we all have to do to be true to ourselves, and be proud of how by coming out we all add to the truthfulness and authenticity of the societies and communities we take part in, or belong to.
Mima, Croatia
Text: Vladimir Sokolov, Mikhail Danilovich, Anastasia Sechina. Translation into English: Irina Galina.