Pavel, recently your name often appears as a moderator and organizer of several actions of so-called "Rainbow association". Please, tell us about this organization - how it was established and how does it work?
The "Rainbow association" has appeared on queer scene spontaneously - it is a good-will participate in our educational and entertainment events. Many of them come to get an advice and moral as well legal support because we believe that LGBT rights and its protection are some of the principal goals of our organization.
...I think our mission is to exist as an organizing point of Moscow's LGBT life. It is the "Rainbow association" that plays the role of guiding light that unites gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and straight who are interested in today LGBT people's problems in Moscow, i.e. our parents and friends.
How many people, you think, are being united by "Rainbow association"'s actions? If there are not so many events, the most important is not the quantity but quality, isn't it? Tell us about them, who are they? Their age, interests (creative or political)?
The "Rainbow association" is a volunteer organization, we do not have membership, party lists and anything like that. Anybody, even who came to one of our events for the first time, can give his (her) idea and realize it with the help and support of other volunteers. In given circumstances it is hard to tell exact numbers, we have few dozens of people who on regular basis participate in our actions. They are of different age, sex, occupation and political views but they all belong to queer society and united by positive life views and wish to self-realization. Thanks to their efforts the "Rainbow association" has held all its events and reached the status of the leading Moscow's LGBT organization.
More than 1200 users are members of the "Rainbow association" Vkontakte page. It is always interesting to know how many people go out of the virtual space in real life and participate in queer actions and become a member of queer society?
I can answer this question precisely because I was responsible for invitations in Vkontakte social network on the eve of the Week against homophobia. Usually 200-250 in each 1000 of invitations sent are being replied on. And only 1/5 from this quarter finally gets to the scene. To participate in discussions and seminars come slightly less people, but in general the percentage of those who attend events is the same. It is clear that Vkontakte is not the only means to announce upcoming events and we have never felt shortage of people on our actions.
By the way we do not favor the word "queer-society" because it is vague and prefer to translate interests of LGBT society and its friends as it was announced on our web page in Vkontakte.ru.
The Russian week against homophobia - RWAHO, that was carried out by "Rainbow association" earlier in March-April this year, is likely its most serious action. Our readers would like to know about its results because the plans were big...
Yes, we had a lot of plans and almost everything was realized successfully. In the framework of the RWAHO we held 14 various events: lessons, seminars, discussions, poetry evenings, concert and women teams soccer play. And most important is that every event scheduled was realized and it was a success. Thus the "Rainbow association" team proved, for the first time, its ability for well organized work and to carry out such a serious event without any financial sponsoring. Around 2000 people visited our events.
What are the means of subsistence for your organization? Do you plan to register as a legal person (and if already done it) what is its legal form?
At present time "Rainbow association" is informal volunteer union and its name is not official. Of course we plan to start registration procedure for a NGO. But it is not an end in itself. Moreover, the Russian week against homophobia showed that it is possible to organize such actions in Moscow without big material resources but small fees from volunteers and minimum financial support from the Russian LGBT-network and other NGOs. They helped us to find places to hold events, for instance.
Did you participate in all RWAHO's events or only in those you were responsible for?
It is obvious that physically I couldn't attend all activities of the Russian week against homophobia, it had a very busy schedule and some of the events took place simultaneously. But besides poete soir and discussion on the roots of homophobia that were conducted by me, I managed to participate in other events that seemed to me of certain interest and even brought there my friends, including straights. They (straights), by the way, liked everything - the idea of the WAHO itself and its events where they were invited.
Observing the activities of the "Rainbow association" one can come to quick conclusion that mostly it is a society of creative people. They sing songs, dance, play guitar, read verses... What about a historical struggle for "gays and lesbians' emancipation"?
If you mean street flash-mobs, we have it too, as well as we participate in developing amendments into law on limitation of discrimination, for example. In this regard I frankly think that today the main goal of the LGBT organization in Russia is not only to overcome legal hurdles that hamper our lives but the fight for acceptance by the society of LGBT people as a group of men and women who have the right to live, security, esteem and self-expression. It is why I as "Charge d'affaires du art" organize poetry evenings and concerts and invite there not only gays and lesbians but our friends, parents. For them such "cultural entertainment" becomes, I believe, an "ideal vaccine against homophobia" because having seen many LGBT people who produce creativity, our relatives come to understanding that "LGBT" is not so terrible as they have thought earlier relying on stereotypes. By the way, my mother has attended the last poetry evening and she enjoyed the verses cited as well as people who were invited there.
Yes, about verses. It's interesting, how many people not indifferent to verses attended your poetic evening on April 1?
There were 15 performers, including me and around one hundred people in the audience. A small club "Elf" was overcrowded by visitors and its staff does not mind to hold another similar action in its premises!
That poetry "meeting" is not the first one. Who needs it? Do you think that you create some kind of rainbow queer reservation for every LGBT who writes, tries to write?
For reference - in 2006-2010 I was busy with development of network society "Gay poetry" and this project successfully existed for 4 and a half years until I've lost interest in it. I've understood that it is useless to create a reservation for poets on the grounds of their sexual orientation. On the other hand our evenings have steady popularity among poets as well as their audience. For many of them it is the first opportunity to read publicly for understanding audience, and for me, as poetry amateur - it is a place where I can explore new poetry talents and to enjoy their verses. Ad rem, no one prohibits our authors to perform on other, non LGBT, events. Rather more popularity, I believe, harms nobody.
Personal question - when your book will be published?
The book will soon be on sale and its presentation is scheduled on May 17. Follow the announces!
And the last question. Saturday afternoon Moscow gays or lesbians often feel lonely and dream of having someone who would wait for them. What can the "Rainbow association" offer to LGBT singles in the next weekends of April?