QUEERFEST Successfully Completed Its 11th Edition!
11th Russian pride festival QUEERFEST completed its successful 9-day run on 28th September. Close to 2000 visitors enjoyed a program of lectures, seminars, discussions, photo exhibitions and concerts. According to Vkontakte.ru, 23 000 people watched festival events online.
In contrast to the first 7 years of its existence, for the last 4 years QUEERFEST meets with no impediments from the authorities. Festival organizers informed the police about the festival to ensure security is provided, receiving a response that the police “rendered assistance in ensuring security of citizens and public order during the event.”
Every year, the festival becomes a space of freedom of expression for LGBT* people from St. Petersburg and regions of Russia, and an opportunity for activists and groups from the regions of Russia to share their work with new audiences. This year's Open Space program hosted 6 LGBT* activists and initiatives from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, China, and Belarus.
The topic of the festival, "There Are Other Ways", allowed QUEERFEST team and guests to explore together how to abandon stereotypes and expand our vision beyond what society and education conditioned us to see. We explored the drag queen phenomenon with Damien Frost and his “Night Flowers” exhibition (UK), unraveled gender stereotypes in photography with Tomas Gunnarsson and his exhibition “Images That Change The World” (Sweden). The lecture “Everything Was Great Until the Feminists Came” by journalist and feminist Zalina Marshenkulova gathered 260 people, blogger Dima Mishka spoke about the promotion of LGBT content in the Russian segment of Youtube, Eugene Monastyrskaya spoke about the phenomenon of asexuality, and writer Svetlana Lukyanova - about the underground queer comics in the USA of the 60-70s.
This year for the first time the festival was sponsored by Russian and international businesses. AviaSales supported travel and accommodation for two winners of an online contest, “24.7 Apart” and Solaren Hotels provided lodging for several guests, LUSH Russia - gifts for the festival’s speakers, Sloth Ethic Food donated reception appetizers, and M.A.C. Cosmetics organized a workshop for transgender people.
The festival came to a close with the concert by Digital 21 and Stefan Olsdal (“Placebo” bass guitarist), enjoyed by 300 people.
“All people deserve a safe and supporting environment to achieve their full potential,” said Stefan Olsdal. “Rights are only won by people who make their voices heard. So thank you for making your voices heard. And thank Queerfest for making your voices heard. And as the great Harvey Milk said, hope is never silent.”
QUEERFEST takes place at central locations of the city, open and welcoming to the general public, visited by ~15% non-LGBT guests.
We thank our partners, colleagues, and friends for making the festival possible: Swedish Institute, AviaSales, 24/7 Apart and Solaren Hotels, LUSH Russia, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Sloth Ethic Food, loft COM.NATA, concert hall Opera. We thank GALS group for providing our security year after year, St. Petersburg ombudsman for helping with ensuring security, representatives of consulates general in St. Petersburg, and many other colleagues and friends for their moral support! Finally, QUEERFEST would not have been possible without the help of our volunteers.