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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, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Years Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Childrens Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Swedens cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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