‘My Russia’ is the Dazed mini-series telling the stories of Russia’s revolutionary youth today. Emboldened by social media, their attitudes towards the state are ever-morphing, their protests growing ever stronger, and they’re breaking new frontiers. Here, young Russians tell their stories on Dazed.
“Yes I carry pepper spray in my handbag – a harsh one,” says 20-year-old Andrey Petrov. “All of my friends bought pepper spray, stun guns and batons too. A month ago I got myself a stun gun, and by the way, I’ve already used it.” Andrey is a striking young Russian, obsessed with makeup, and a social media star in his own right, with huge followings across his Instagram and YouTube channels.
In this Dazed film Boys Don’t Cry, directed by Turkina Faso, we meet three young Russian men who love wearing makeup navigating their everyday lives in Moscow, in a country where the government aggressively withdraw rights for LGBT people. Earlier this year, 20 activists were arrested in St. Petersburg for challenging the persecution of gay men in Chechnya and the following month Vladimir Putin announced that it was “his duty” to stop gay marriage.
“I used to watch Party Monster and Rupaul’s Drag Race. I always wanted to literally pour everything I had at home over my face and go dance” – Gevorg
Freedom to express yourself publicly can prove difficult in Moscow – makeup is equated with effeminacy, and consequently, homosexuality. The stories that these young men tell are honest, the lives that they live brave. “I used to watch Party Monster and Rupaul’s Drag Race,” says 24-year-old Gevorg. “I always wanted to literally pour everything I had at home over my face and go dance.”
Despite the state’s determination to make life difficult for LGBT people in Russia, director Turkina Faso believes that acceptance is growing in the country and attitudes are shifting. “I do think they (these men) are brave and they are strong in their intention to be themselves,” she says. “But Dima wears makeup in his office and all his colleagues like him. Gev shows his female clients tricks or cool looks. Andrey has amazing looks and knows a lot about cosmetics. Their relatives eventually accepted them, after misunderstanding. They just want to be free to express themselves, they don’t want to be in prison or harmed on the streets.
“Russia will change and become more open. It takes time. I love my country and culture, my friends are amazing, openminded people. So I believe the amount of us will increase, we will change the reality.”