Photo exhibition about lives of LGBT teenagers shut down by Moscow authorities

Photo exhibition about lives of LGBT teenagers shut down by Moscow authorities
Photo: Masha Gelman

12 June 2015

The exhibition Be yourself: stories of LGBT teenagers in Moscow’s Red Square gallery in Elektrozavod studio was cancelled before its opening this weekend due to pressure from the local police. The show consists of two parts — portraits of LGBT teenages and texts which they had written about their lives — and was supposed to run from the 14th-16th June.

One of the exhibition’s organisers Taria Polyakova told Colta.ru that police visited the landlord of the Red Square gallery and threatened to stop his tenancy agreement if he let the exhibition go ahead.

According to the organisers, the exibition was seeking to amplify the voices of LGBT teenagers. “Today Russian LGBT-teenagers often have to lead a double life, it’s harder for them to find friends, and they often become victims of violence”, states the exhibition description. “The way to realising one’s sexuality is never easy, and it’s a daily struggle with people’s rejection and your own despair. We need to give a voice to the ones who are never heard, give them a chance to talk about their experience of discovering their sexuality and how against all odds they are overcoming prejudice.”

The exhibition has been already been cancelled once before. It was originally planned for 1 June but then suddenly stopped by the gallery space without explanation. “This event [the exhibition], labelled as an 18+, is absolutely legal, and coming to the exhibition is everyone’s individual choice, a random passer-by hardly would ever see it. But the authorities want to decide for the citizens: what they are allowed to see and know. We can see that any gallery ends up under pressure from the police and it’s illegal,” said LGBT activist Igor Yasin, another of the exhibition’s organisers, in an interview with Kommersant.

At present moment the organisers are intending to stage the exhibition unsanctioned in one of Moscow’s parks.