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“Being gay in my county means there’s always a huge fear of being beaten by homophobes.”

“We are not ghosts – we are alive!”

My name is Roman and I was born in Kazan, a capital of a Muslim republic, located in the middle Russia. Despite the insuperable attraction to guys, I tried to date with girls because my kin always fervently took interest in my private life. But it was undoubtedly unsuccessful!

I was really scared even to add any gay app for dating or talking on pain of being caught by my friends or classmates, especially from Muslim families.

I faced homophobia in my college, my work and, especially, in my family. Due to it, I was cast down by my family coerced to leave my home. Fortunately, I could pull myself together to realise my dream to move to Moscow.

Living in a big megapolis looked easier for me. I didn’t miss my hometown whatsoever! When I settled down in the capital of Russia, I came out for my family and my friends. Unsurprisingly, their reaction was terribly negative. One day my mom and my stepfather yelled at me about my errors in DNA and mental problems with a lot of humiliating phrases. Even so, I love my parents and attempt to keep in touch with them.

Nowadays, I’ve accepted myself despite a lot of painful things which occurred with me in the past. Additionally, I always try to improve gay-living in Russia upholding human rights of exactly the same guys like me. I take part in protests against the
tough policy of the Russian government, the gay-propaganda law and a lot of violence cases ignored by the police and the Russian society!

There wasn’t any romantic reason when I first met my boyfriend Mykhailo. First of all, it was a common chat on the Grindr app during the breaks between my work at the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the biggest gay-events around Europe. I hadn’t believed someone could find any relationship through the app until I met Mike. It appears to me, that it wasn’t just a physical attraction to hook up with him. We spent almost all the time together invited each other to take lunches in cafés or get walking in Stockholm’s parks simply for our own amusement.

We even worked together in a press centre, so as not to leave. An old Swedish restaurant called Pelikan has truly become a place of our feelings. There aren’t only perfect Scandinavian meatballs, but also a lot of memories about our first days. Moreover, our lush love affair didn’t end as just a holiday fling. I visited Mike as a friend for his family in two weeks in Ukraine and overcame a highly strong customs control due to a military conflict between our countries. I really wanted to see him again vowed to be there at all costs.

Being gay in my county there’s always a huge fear of being beaten by homophobes who are upheld by governmental politics, or to be fired from my work at any time.

There isn’t any confidence in my future. I also don’t know how I start family and raise my kids among homophobic society where the overwhelming majority thinks I need to get any treatment or be destroyed. All doors are closed before us. We want to fully exist for the society in our states. We are not ghosts – we are alive!
We are the same people, like someone else, made of flesh and blood, with own experiences and feelings. But, unfortunately, we are all not understood. For how long? The answer is still unknown.

Click here to read Roman’s boyfriend Mykhailo’s account of growing up gay in the Ukraine.

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