Since 2009, Saint Petersburg has been the host city to the annual International Queer Culture Festival "QueerFest". The upcoming sixth edition of the festival will take place from 18 September to 28 September 2014 across a number of venues throughout the city centre. Over the past five years, QueerFest has consolidated its support by providing a platform for free expression to the queer community and contemporary artists from Russia and abroad.
In 2012, QueerFest was largely supported by Russian radio and television outlets. Our festival has also received very positive feedback from respected artists, writers and journalists such as Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry or Vladimir Posner among others.
Of course, under the current adverse circumstances, QueerFest has attracted both sympathisers and detractors.
The organisers faced hostility for the first time in 2010, when one of the hosting venues rescinded the contract without prior notice one day before the opening ceremony. The obstacle was effectively dealt with and our team rearranged the planned event elsewhere, allowing the schedule to resume normally. The implementation of the LGBT propaganda law in 2013 cast its shadow over the fifth edition of the festival, but it failed to taint its overall success and disrupted neither the programme nor its end goal: to create a space for open discussion without discrimination.
This year, the main theme of the festival is making accessible the art of all those who are not afraid to be different. During the festival you will be able to participate in discussions, seminars and workshops lead by artists and project coordinators from Russia and Europe.
The growing animosity towards the LGBT collective, the clampdown against human rights organisations and the introduction of new discriminative legislation have all become more visible in present times. This is why we need platforms like QueerFest more than ever to provide a space without homophobia, xenophobia, social stigma or prejudice in any other form.
From 18 to 28 September anyone who believes in universal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, nationality, skin colour or religion will have a chance to meet equally-minded people, discuss possible ways of bringing an end to prejudice and enjoy our events in the company of friends in a space free from discrimination.