They called me "faggot" or "girl. I grew up in Vladivostok, on the very eastern edge of Russia. Not even to myself. So I decided to look through dating sites on the Internet. All their profiles were incomplete and lacked even the basic details, and most had missing or blurred pictures. Even Grindr, one of the most popular gay apps in the world, only showed about six people in the Russian far east.
I eventually found one gay guy who I started to chat with. Then we took his car to a dark and deserted place, and only then was he relaxed enough to show some interest in me.
Filled with dark, deserted places like this one, hidden away from society. My female friend accepted it, and she basically told me she already knew. And the funny thing is that she and I were friends first since we were classmates. I remember the day I told my parents.
We were very close; we confided in one another, so I was caught off-guard, to say the least, by their reaction. It seemed like my parents had hypnotized themselves free of the information and selectively forgotten what I told them.
And it was there that only a few months later I met my boyfriend, Max. He was the first guy I ever held hands with in public. We met at a popular gay bar on December 1, and he was talking to a Spanish guy that I was checking out.
I was interested for two reasons: And then, of course, because he was cute. I said, "Hi," and we started to talk, and I didn't pay attention to Max. The Spanish guy eventually introduced me, and the three of us spent the night together dancing, then ended up at Times Square, drinking hot chocolate and talking.
By the end of the night, I realized I was paying attention to the wrong guy, because the guy who made me feel butterflies in my stomach was Max. Big from Sex and the City. I still remember everything about our first date. He told me about his family and his childhood; As we got to know each other, I realized that we are total extreme opposites. I liked the way Max talks, he has the sort of voice you hear on evening radio. I like to watch him while he sleeps and listen to him breathe.
He doesn't know it, but I wake up first in the morning just so I can watch him while he sleeps. And he always smells good. Although he only cooks once in a blue moon, when it happens, the things he makes are delicious. I still wonder what his secret ingredients must be.
Recently Max asked me to move in with him. What if I do something wrong or mess it up? So when I got the scholarship to study dance, I got in touch and he ended up letting me stay with him at his place in Queens for a few months. We spent a lot of time talking; he speaks Russian and used to live in Nizhny Novgorod.
Soviet morality officially condemns homosexuality and deems it a crime punishable by imprisonment of seven years or more, depending on the particular offense. In the Soviet Union gay political groups or parties are illegal since they would interfere with the state's monopoly on politics. All gay sexual acts, pornography, and personal associations are illegal because they contravene the state's supposed infallibility on questions of morality. If they were to decide tomorrow that homosexuality was ok, they could repeal the anti-homosexuality laws and call-off the KGB queer-hunt in a single act.
The unfortunate fact, however, is that there is no stimulus for them to do so. It made me think about how almost nothing has changed.