Home' LOTL : Dec 13 Contents Agens is Russia’s lesbian magazine. Since
“homosexual propaganda” is illegal in Russia, how can
anyone buy this publication?
We have an agreement with kiosks that they
can sell our magazine, and we have five points
of sale in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and you
can buy it online. The kiosks were very kind
to us. It was not a problem for them to sell
our magazine, and the response to Age n s was
great. But with this law, we lost every single
advertising client we had. We are struggling
with financing. It is not an easy time for us.
Tell me about the title of the magazine and why you
We wanted a magazine that was classy and ap-
pealed to lesbians. Our art director found the
Latin word for “moving force.” It feels right be-
cause we are that force.
Launching an LGBT glossy magazine these days is
very expensive and in Russia could be dangerous. Why
not just go on the Internet?
That’s a good question. I can assure you
that we are not like you guys. We still need
printed magazines and newspapers. I was
in California last January, and I see how
you are transitioning from print media to
online and this is very exciting, but we are
more conservative and we still read a lot of
magazines and newspapers. We don’t have so
much progress [toward digital technology].
But as I look at what is going on with our
finances, I think maybe it would be a solution
for us. Because we want it to continue and
women who read the magazine want us to
As editor-in-chief of a magazine that could be
misconstrued as “homosexual propaganda,” do you
fear for your safety?
I hear a lot of stories right now that are very
dangerous: people have been beaten up since
this law passed. A lot of LGBT people are
treated like shit—beaten on the street—and
it’s dangerous from the point of view that you
want to stay alive and any minute you could
be dead. I ’m more afraid for my closest friends
and family, and I worry about how they would
be treated. I ’m not afraid for myself because
The LGBT community worldwide is worried and
outraged. What can we do to help? Many people
are calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games, of
Russian products like vodka, but will that help?
Sorry, but it means nothing. As I see it, the
Russian government will do whatever they
want. If they hate the LGBT community, they
will continue that. While [boycotting] is help-
ful from a moral point of view, my honest opin-
ion of what the West really can do for us is to
give us the opportunity to emigrate. To leave.
You’d like to see Western countries adopt more
favourable immigration laws for asylum seekers?
Yes, because I don’t think it’s going to change
here for another 10 years.
Why is homophobia so strong in Russia?
I think because we don’t have a history of
democracy. The Soviet Union fell about 12 or
13 years ago and we still don’t know how to use
democracy properly. I feel like sometimes we
are more like a monarchy, where public opinion
follows the strong leader—not only regarding
LGBT rights but human rights as well. I wrote
about the repeal of DOMA in the summer
issue of Agen s. It was very inspiring that you
guys fought for your rights. We don’t have the
power to decide what we want to do, what’s
right or what’s wrong. First we need to figure
out how to live in a democracy, and then after
that we can figure out what to do for LGBT
You mentioned you have lost all your advertisers. Will
there be another issue of Agens?
Well, we planned a really good issue for the au-
tumn. It was an issue about lesbian parenthood.
We [lined up] interviews with real Russian les-
bian families with kids, women who were open
about their names and who gave us their pho-
tos, and it was a huge deal for me personally
and for the magazine and for the community,
but after the law passed, about 70 percent of
them refused to give interviews with us.
So we don’t have the autumn issue, but I
still hope we can do this in the winter or the
spring. We need to do this because we have
some opportunities here—for example, a lot
of lesbian couples use in-vitro fertilisation,
which is legal here for lesbians.
That seems quite contradictory, that lesbians can
access IVF in Russia.
Yeah, exactly! And single people can adopt, so
there are some lesbians and gays who adopt
as single persons and raise the kids with their
partners. Russia is kind of weird.
Did you have any sense that Putin would move in this
direction and make gay people scapegoats?
When we decided to start the magazine, most
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