Vice Has Released A Five-Part Documentary On Being Young And Gay In Russia
"People are homophobes, they are just against us and they are not afraid of police; they are not afraid of government — they just come and kill gay people."
A new Vice documentary, Young and Gay in Putin's Russia, has a crew traveling to Moscow ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics to take a look at how the anti-gay policies are impacting the everyday lives of LGBT youth.
The five-part documentary will not only explore what it's really like to live under the oppressive anti-gay laws...
...but also how LGBT youth are fighting back.
In part one of the documentary, already available for streaming online, we hear the stories of three young LGBT Russians.
Upon arrival in Moscow, the Vice crew discovers that Moscow has its own LGBT taxi service. They speak with their young driver, Artem.
As Artem explains, a gay taxi service is necessary because for gay teens, "it's difficult to live in this society." He goes on to give several examples of homophobic violence LGBT youth have encountered recently.
Artem – who is not out to his parents – isn't sure if he will ever be able to live a completely open life.
"My attitude is that I first want to accomplish something in life, and if I do, I will probably come out. On the other hand, I have plans to possibly have family by the time I'm 30. But it has to be with a woman who understands my real sexual orientation. It wouldn't be a marriage of love. It would be a marriage for the parents."
The crew then meets with Nikita Guryanov, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow. He has his own YouTube channel spreading positive messages to the LGBT community.
As a result of his videos, Nikita has been labeled a "propagandist."
Nikita makes it clear he is not afraid of any consequences that come from his activism.
"I don't really have much to fear. I have officially been labeled as a propagandist. But at the same time, I don't really spread propaganda. In this country, propaganda has a very abstract definition. No one really knows what it means. I don't tell people to be gay. I only give advice and share my knowledge."
Finally, the crew meets with a lesbian named Yulia Kozlova. She started her own LGBT self-defense classes after her favorite gay bar in Moscow was raided in October 2012.
"After that, I understood that I can be punched in the street, I can be punched in the nightclub, I can be punched at a demonstration. Just anywhere, because people are homophobes," said Yulia.
Everyday life for Yulia is not only more difficult, but quite dangerous as well.
"Because of this law, some conservative and aggressive people have decided that it's OK to kill gay people because we want to protect our children; we want to protect our society from these crazy gays. We've seen lots of suicides among young people since publishing that law, so it's not protecting [them]."