The first-ever Russian anti-homophobia campaign has bravely launched on the anniversary of a constitutional amendment that formally banned same-sex marriage in Russia.
The unflinching campaign is led by the Russian LGBT Network, which released a heartrending film depicting the love and struggle of two queer men through interpretive dance.
“This campaign is a precedent for Russia’s social advertising industry. It’s the first-ever project created by an LGBT+ organisation and a marketing agency,” said Alla Chikinda of the Yekaterinburg Resource Centre for LGBT people.
“The video has been produced by one of the country’s most successful ad agencies and it features a popular song, so it’s a big step towards recognising the importance of LGBT-oriented agenda.”
The poignant film follows two men, played by Nikita Orlov and Maxim Avdeev, as they navigate the pushes and pulls of love’s usual trials – made all the more difficult due to fear hostility outside the walls of their distant apartments in Moscow.
Expertly and sensitively performed, directed, styled and edited, the six-minute film uses split-screen imagery to show the dancers seemingly collide and interact, painting the ups and downs of their passionate relationship.
“These are two people that love each other and want to be together, but forbid themselves because of societal judgment, because of certain walls that are created around that relationship, and so unfortunately it cannot happen,” explains writer Evgeny Primachenko.
Beautiful film was inspired by Russia’s homophobic campaign ads
Primachenko was prompted to create the film in response to the homophobic campaign that drove last year’s constitutional reforms, a package of changes which included an amendment defining marriage as “a union between a man and a woman”.
A flood of state-endorsed anti-gay ads presented “the [LGBT+] community in an incredibly clichéd, offensive way – in an extremely negative light,” Primachenko remembers.
One manipulative video showed a gay couple adopting a child, with a flamboyantly camp “mother” trying to dress the cowering orphan in a glittery dress. “This is what will happen if you don’t vote for the constitution change,” the advert threatens.