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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. Petersburg’s 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 organization’s executive director, she also serves on its board of directors and coordinates the group’s 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 Vykhod’s office in the city center to talk about what is one of Russia’s 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 wasn’t 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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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