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Anna Anisimova: Coming Out For Human Rights

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Anna Anisimova, one of the founders of Vykhod (Coming Out) remains optimistic.
    Photo: For SPT

Coming out was a surprisingly easy process for Vykhod (Coming Out), St. Petersburgs main gay rights organization. While other LGBT advocacy groups faced difficulties in registering as non-profits and suffered harassment, Vykhod managed to avoid most of the hurdles placed in front of other NGOs.

Although that part of the process was easy, for Anna Anisimova, and Vykhod, that straightforwardness has long since come to an end. A year and a half ago, St. Petersburg passed a law prohibiting gay propaganda, and a similar law was enacted at the federal level a few months ago, provoking international outrage. Anisimova has been with Vykhod since its foundation in 2008. In addition to working as the organizations executive director, she also serves on its board of directors and coordinates the groups activities, which range from public demonstrations to free, individual psychological counseling for members of the LGBT community across the country.

As Anisimova tells it, the passage of the recent law on nontraditional sexual relations, has made life more dangerous for members of the LGBT community in Russia, giving those, who experience hatred, rage, or hostility toward LGBT people the feeling of legal justification. Anisimova sat down recently with The St. Petersburg Times at Vykhods office in the city center to talk about what is one of Russias only bulwarks against hatred and ignorance.

Q: What was the idea behind founding Vykhod?

A: Vykhod was founded in 2008. The original members met at an event organized by the Russian Gay Network during a spring protest against homophobia. At the end of the rally, a few of us decided that protesting against homophobia in St. Petersburg once a year just wasnt enough. We thought that it would be great to create an activist group that would hold events to spread awareness about issues concerning the LGBT community, particularly as it exists in St. Petersburg, and to fight against the current problems that the community faces, in particular those of discrimination and silence in the face of hate crimes.

Our first event was a Day of Silence, held in early May 2008. Around ten people helped organized it, and it was the first time that a Day of Silence was held in St. Petersburg. Afterwards, we decided that we would have to sit down and seriously get to work on creating a new organization. At the start of 2009, we registered Vykhod with the St. Petersburg city government.

Q: What motivates you?

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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