'Beaten And Tasered': One Man Opens Up About Being Gay In Russia
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is becoming easier in most countries, as the modern world becomes more accepting of something that is natural.
However, some nations openly speak out about their disapproval of homosexuality. Russia, being a prime example.
Recently, in one province, Chechnya, there were rumours of 'concentration camps' being set up to either 'treat' or murder gay men - although authorities denied all knowledge of their existence.
Certain images are also banned and labelled 'gay propaganda' by the nation. In a list of 4,074 prohibited images, this one of Vladmir Putin is numbered 4,071.
Russia's justice dept just banned this photo of #VladimirPutin in drag. Have never wanted to share anything as much pic.twitter.com/fyfKQ5RJ7T
- Michelle Mac Mullan (@MichelleMacM) April 6, 2017
But what is it like to live in Russia as a gay man?
LADbible spoke to Alexander Kargaltsev, a 32-year-old Russian, who sought asylum in America, and now is applying for full citizenship.
He moved across the Atlantic in 2010, and plans to remain in the country where he now works in film.
"Growing up in Russia, it was near impossible to meet guys," Alexander said. "There were bars and clubs, but it wasn't safe to go there."
In an extract from his application for citizenship to the United States, Alex describes leaving a gay bar one night.
"I was once attacked," he writes. "And beaten by an organized mob of anti-gay protesters, while several uniformed state police officers stood by watching. The police refused to intervene when my friends and I pleaded for help.
"I am afraid that if forced to return I will continue to suffer assault, severe discrimination, and constant harassment, and I will be injured or possibly even killed."
Even when inside a club, he was once locked-in due to there being a large number of protesters outside. After waiting several hours inside a silent club, Alex made his way out, but was soon met by 'four of five skinheads who shoved us, and then began punching us repeatedly.'
Although Alex was on the gay scene before the invention of gay dating apps, he told LADbible that they aren't safe in Russia. "Even that is a trap," he says. "People could attack you."
Alexander Kargaltsev. Credit: Facebook
In his written statement, he describes the moment he went to Mayakovskaya Square, Moscow, a large open space in the city centre, to meet a man who seemed 'sweet, kind, interesting and attractive'. Alex soon found that he was wrong in his judgement and had been set up. "Instead of my date, four large men were waiting for me, they said 'here you go, faggot' and began to beat me mercilessly."
"I've been beaten at a gay pride," he said. "We were walking the streets and the police came over, I was beaten with batons, tasered, and most of my friends were arrested, it was scary."
Throughout state school education, Alex found growing up tough. He was raped as a 14-year-old by his chemistry teacher, and constantly bullied by other students.
When asked about his sexuality by his parents, they attempted to blame each other. It would seem almost that there is a lack of education, and understanding throughout.
Alex supports this argument. He says that there is no sex education in Russia among its state school, and the man at the top, Vladimir Putin, openly speaks against homosexuality.
His university application was even thwarted by his sexuality. He claims that the dean 'realised immediately' that he was gay.
"He paid little attention to my responses to his questions, and told me ten minutes into the exam that the university did not want gay men studying there, and that I would be rejected because I was gay," Alex said.
He was concerned that should he not get into university, then he would be forced to join the military where further problems awaited.
"I have heard stories from military veterans and read in the press about how gay men are treated in the military," he said. "And it is much worse than even life in Moscow."
More extracts from Alexander's US application:
- I fled Russia because I was repeatedly physically attacked and threatened for being gay, both by Russian government officials and private parties.
- Government officials either refused to help me or advanced a culture of tolerating attacks and constant discrimination against homosexuals.
- [When younger] I hoped that my interest in men was only a disease, or something I could grow out of.
- If I am forced to return to Russia, I will be attacked again, tortured, and possibly killed.
- I was taught my whole life that being gay is completely anathema to the Russian way of life.
Despite moving to America seven years ago, Alex continues to keep an eye on the news in his home country, and also the recent rumours coming from Chechnya.
Alex said: "The President of Chechnya says there are no gays in the area, which means they have left or been killed - I think the government should educate people. It doesn't happen in Russia because Putin wants to remain the president, and remain popular.
"It's too complicated to have concentration camps," believes Alex. "But the atmosphere is definitely there."
Moscow and St Petersburg are the only two cities in the whole of Russia where there are 'open' gay clubs.
"Everywhere else is bad," said Alex. "I believe there are bars in other cities but they are hidden, quiet, there are no signs, no banners, you have to know where to go. Moscow and St Petersburg have clubs that are open, which you can find online.
"I stopped thinking about it all when I moved over, I felt shame and bad things in Russia. I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there, and I stopped when I moved over here. No one cares [here] and everyone is respectful.
"I feel much happier here."
Having read through Alex's application, it presents a worrying situation in Russia, and you feel America is undoubtedly a better place for him. It seems that an inherited, propaganda-led belief is what is stopping the nation from moving forward.