Andrey used apps, but on moving to Moscow found he didn’t need to be quite so discreet any more – although he’s still in the closet at work. “It makes me uncomfortable when men talk about women. A colleague asked me which of the girls at the office I’d like to hook up with. I said I don’t date in the workplace.”
Grindr is ever popular – a hacked location file revealed several users within the walls of the Kremlin itself – but Hornet is increasingly used because of the fact you can have public images as well as private ones, revealed only on request. Reports of http://www.hookupdate.net/es/meetic-opinion anti-LGBT activists setting up fake accounts to lure and then abuse gay men (sometimes recording it on video) have made Andrey and his friends more cautious. “I don’t invite men on apps to my house. We meet up, have a conversation, go for a walk.” He doesn’t reveal his sexuality in public. “With apps, you often find friends on there who you didn’t know were gay. Then you can reveal yourself to them. In public, it’s dangerous if you’re not sure. ” He starts listing some famous public figures.
There are fewer events catering for lesbians in Moscow, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Among the most popular are women-only parties named after the US television series The L Word, run by 29-year-old Karina Krasavina.
L Word takes place every two weeks at a club in the city centre, and will be celebrating its sixth birthday this weekend. Krasavina said she has never had any trouble from the authorities. Her business partner, 24-year-old Nastya Laut, laughed off any safety concerns.
“There are so many gay women in Moscow – we’re everywhere these days,” she said. “It’s become normal. Sure, there are people who don’t understand or who are negative, but most are fine with it. My family are fine with it and my friends are fine with it and I never feel that I’m in danger. We just have a good time.”
But LGBT activist and journalist Elena Kostyuchenko said not all homosexual women are able to be so open. She said that even the venues catering for gay women often choose not to advertise their orientation.
“Many of the LGBT clubs look like a normal restaurants during they day – people come to have business lunches or whatever. Then only at night do they become an LGBT club. So even the venues have a double life,” she said.
Some men are gay but deny it
The lesbian scene has shrunk in recent years, with many of the more active members emigrating because of the government’s anti-gay agenda. “Lots of venues have closed down, I don’t even know where people go these days,” said Kostyuchenko.
What concerns many homosexual Muscovites most, it seems, is less fear for their safety or inability to meet other gay men and women, than legal legitimacy – the ability to share property with a partner, or pass on inheritances without interference from grasping relatives, or raise kids
But she stressed that it is so much easier to be gay in Moscow or St Petersburg than anywhere else in Russia. “Yes, you can have difficulties and you need to be careful but it’s nothing like it is elsewhere.”
Indeed, Moscow’s gay people seem more stoic than angry. They’ve even appropriated their own abuse: if something silly or stupid or weird happens in Europe, it’s derided as “Gayropa”.
Krasovsky wants kids; his partner, who is younger, does not. Does he worry that Muscovites wouldn’t be supportive if they say two men raising a child?