MYSTORY With …
34 Years, Hamburg
“Once you were in, this parallel world opened
up where everyone knew each other and you
were allowed to be whoever you wanted. …”
Published: May 2022
I come from Russia – the country that today is associated with war, violence, propaganda and homophobia. And it’s hard to believe that in my youth, in the 2000s, I experienced probably the most liberal and free time of this country. That was the time when the pop duo “t.A.T.u.” became famous in Europe and in the USA. At that time in Russia no one was bothered by two girls kissing on stage. Many girls then walked hand in hand in the streets in short skirts, like in the video All The Things She Said. There were also other Russian artists who made homosexual references in their songs and videos. I grew up with that.
When I was a student, I knew that homosexuality existed, but I didn’t identify with it. I always had close relationships with my girlfriends, even held hands and slept in the same bed. It was all harmless and felt normal. I also knew that in a parallel class there were some girls who were supposedly into women. It was only whispered about (later I saw them at lesbian parties). When I met a girl at a summer camp and felt jealous every time she talked about boys, I couldn’t place my feelings.
I didn’t realize the fact that I was into women until I was 17, after a young woman approached me in a heterosexual club and wanted to get to know me. I dated her for about a year after that and we still keep in touch (today she lives in San Francisco with her wife and child). She introduced me to the lesbian community.
The LGBT*IQ community in my hometown (population about 2 million) was quite big at that time, there was a club for lesbians and one for gays with weekly parties. In Moscow and Saint Petersburg, of course, there was more: more clubs, more parties, more people like us, but we were happy with what we had. Of course, none of this was public and you had to know your way around, but once you were in, this parallel world opened up where everyone knew each other and you were allowed to be whoever you wanted.
That’s where I found my soul mates, my best friends. I loved this parallel world, even though it wasn’t perfect either.
I was a student, had little money, lived with my parents, who raised me liberally but didn’t know about my sexual orientation at the time. While I felt so comfortable in the community, the outside world became less and less tolerant – but I didn’t realize that until later.
At the end of 2008, I came to Germany to study, without knowing how long I would stay … 14 years later, I’m still here, happily married to my wife and with a great job, leading the life I always wanted. I feel free and safe in Germany. I am grateful for all the experiences I have had and all the people I have met. I am grateful for the time I experienced in Russia and I know that nowadays it is unimaginable and sometimes even dangerous to walk hand in hand there. Nevertheless, I wish all LGBT*IQ people to find their way early and have only the positive encounters. To those who don’t dare yet, I can only say: “Don’t be afraid, you are normal and not alone!”