9th October, 2003 - Moscow. The Russian National GLBT Center "Together" announces the third issue of the KVIR monthly periodical, the only Russian magazine for gays, bisexuals and those interested in gay issues (www.kvir.ru). This magazine is aimed at the "non-online audience", people living in regions, and those who visit www.gay.ru rarely.
This magazine is a non-profit project designed to provide society with correct and diverse information on homosexuality, to increase public tolerance of homosexuals, as well as to provide support to and unify the gay community. Due to lack of financing, the Centre is regrettably forced to charge a nominal fee for the magazine (Rb50).
The magazine is distributed in clubs, saunas, bookstores and intimacy shops in Moscow and other Russian cities such as Saint Petersburg, Tver and Vladivostok. The name of the magazine, "Kvir", stems from the English word ‘Queer’. It is a high quality, full-color 64-page magazine for those interested in gay issues.
According to scientific estimates, gay and bisexual people constitute 10-30% of any society, which means several dozen million people in our country. Despite this fact, there have been no printed media for the gay population until very recently. The only reliable source providing information on gay life in Russia thus far has been www.gay.ru with more than 3 billion visitors in the last six months - 30% of the entire Russian web audience.
While "Kvir" is aimed at readers who seldom visit www.gay.ru, is not the printed version of the website. The magazine is a stand-alone project set up, designed and run by an independent team of professional journalists, designers and publishers.
In the magazine readers will find discussion of the most pressing issues of the day, comments on literature, an events list for the month, and news of gay issues. Each successive edition will focus on a separate issue: thus the second edition concentrates on ‘First Dates’, and the third on ‘Coming Out’. In addition the October issue will include the publication of a Gay Guide to Russian cities (clubs, cafes and venues).
Professor Igor Kon said "Today Russia is a country where there is low tolerance to those who differ from the majority in any way. This results in homophobia, due to the common perception of homosexuals as camp and ladylike [Together comment: the only openly-gay Russian pop star is said to fit this description]. But in fact the vast majority of gay people are identical to straight men in appearance and behaviour. The existence of such stereotypes within society gives birth to a series of social problems for gay and bisexual people. For example teenagers, especially those living in regions with low living standards and lack of access to the web, face isolation and low levels of understanding even from their own relatives, let alone from general society. Information on gay life provided by mass media is often incorrect, biased and even scandalous. This prevents gays and bisexuals from coming to terms with themselves, leading to suicidal tendencies and unsafe sexual behaviour - heightening the risk of AIDS. We hope that the new magazine will help both society and mass media to discover the positive side of gays and bisexuals - a side that is unfortunately seldom noticed by the population at large".
He continued: "’Kvir’ is one of the Center’s social projects (all of ‘Together’s projects are non-profit), intended to inform and entertain the Russian gay community and promote safer sex. It will also raise self-acceptance levels within the gay community, which according to research is inversely related to the level of unsafe sexual behaviour, and should raise the social adaptivity of gay people".
Ed Mishin, head of the Russian National GLBT Center ‘Together, said: "Previous attempts to set up gay life periodicals in the post-Soviet space were made by well-meaning enthusiasts, but the majority of such attempts proved a failure. Such periodicals, with low design, artwork and print quality and poor content (e.g. pornographic pictures and stories, and adverts for ‘escort services’) are of no interest to readers today. Our project is quite different in terms of design, artwork and print quality, as well as the thoroughness with which we have compiled the content. Our commitment is to an interesting and high quality periodical, affordable and useful to the majority of our readers".
Ed Mishin, tel: +7 (495) 507-4623
GLBT Center "Together" is a non-profit public organization whose aim is to fight for equal rights for gays, lesbians & transsexuals in Russia, to secure the right to privacy, to help create long-term relationships, and to promote involvement in gay community life.
We are the only GLBT community-based organisation, working exclusively with GLBT in Russia at the national level. Our Initiative group has been working on GLBT issues for five years and consists of 30 volunteers with expertise in different areas including art, psychology, literature, sex life, project management etc.
The Center’s running projects are www.gay.ru with more than 50.000 daily visitors; www.gayhealth.ru addressing safer sex matters for those engaging in same-sex intercourse; self-help groups for gays and lesbians; and cultural projects (e.g. the staging of a play on safer sex which was shown in all of Moscow’s gay clubs). Projects in the planning phase include a survey on the gay community, a Gay hotline and a Moscow GLBT Community Centre.