The comics for our Festival were created both by professional artists and by amateurs. All comics are based on real stories that people openly or anonymously shared with our artists. These stories are about humor and tragedy, love and betrayal, acceptance and denial – just like in real life. The purpose of this Festival is to open the door to another world for everyone interested – a world next to them that they have never noticed, regarded as not noteworthy or just ignored. Thanks to the openness of the storytellers and to the skills of our artists, we have an opportunity to look behind the slightly opened door of the LGBT world, to see real people and their lives, and maybe to become more open and tolerant to people around us.
A long time ago, me and my father were walking in the VDNkH park in Moscow and he was pestering me with questions about boys. I told him that there was nothing to talk about and in return he joked that maybe, I like girls instead. After a longer pause, I hesitantly said “yes”, expecting to be executed on sight. But his reaction was just an “ou”. I was so surprised that I asked him why he didn’t judge me. (We had a big argue once when I wanted to change my name, but he viciously disapproved telling me that I won’t be his daughter any more if I do that). And he told me: “for your name-you answer to me, and for that-to God (and he is not a religious person)”
‘Oh, I see?!’
Comic creator: Martina Schradi
Martina Schradi is a German author and cartoonist. She is known for her collection of comics ‘Oh, I see?!’ depicting the daily lives and trials of people in the LGBT*I community. These are true stories about coming out in the family, at school or at work, about gender roles and discrimination. It is an anti-discrimination project exposing people to the struggles of the LGBT*I community.
Story of Kati T.
Comic creator: Kürbis17
My name is Alena Braune, my pen name Kuerbis17, and I’m a semi-professional Manga artist. I was born in 1996 and have been drawing since childhood. Manga has very early brought me into contact with other lifestyles, as there are genres specifically about love interests between boys or girls. I believe that art, as well as storytelling, is a good possibility to let people see that the things you don’t often talk about in public, are not necessarily ‘unnatural’. Which is why this festival is a good opportunity to inform about different point of views. I myself didn’t know this project until a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to draw a comic, and I’m glad I could contribute my part .Every story is a personal experience by someone, like mine which was about a simple question from a little child. When you think about it, it’s a very sad question that you shouldn’t have to ask at all. Not being able to live the life you want with the one you love, and not being accepted the way you are must feel pretty heavy upon someone.
A year ago, when my nephew saw the wallpaper on my phone (there was a photo from our wedding with Chris) he simply asked why there are two brides on that photo. I explained to him that sometimes it is like that. People do not always fall in love with someone from the opposite gender. But right now, our government is against it, and therefore he had never heard about it before. After thinking about our discussion for a couple of days (he was seven years old then) he came to me and asked why some important guys forbid other people to love each other… I cried for about an hour and he looked at me, also in tears…
Artist: Elias Ericson
I’m a Swedish comic artist and illustrator born in 1994. LGBTQ matters are incredibly important to me and they affect me and most of my friends daily. My activism through comics started off as venting and ended up being spread over the Internet. Other than LGBTQ, I often talk about mental health. These two topics tend to go hand in hand because of the oppression we face.
The first trans-feministic comic about trans*people from Siberia. The main character and the plot of the comic are based on real-life-stories, that were told by transgender people to picture the situation of the transgender community in the Siberia region in Russia.
Yuma. Several stories.
Comic creator: Natalia Kim
1. My coming out to my children was kind of funny. I was living my life, never really caring about coming out neither about hiding it. I am very close to my children, we support each other in every step of our life. My children were 12 and 16 years old when they decided to tell me, that they know about my sexual orientation. They were suspiciously persistent about watching a movie together and planed a nice evening with tasty food in advance. It was the movie “Without men”, a feministic film with a lesbian storyline. We watched the movie while hugging each other. After the movie, I openly spoke to my children and thanked them for their support and understanding. Even today I tear up remembering that evening and the feeling how much my children love and accept me for who I am. They are 19 and 26 now, my granddaughter is 4, and we are still very close.
2. For many years, me and my parents haven’t been close. They didn’t know anything about my life. Recently they began to insist on establishing a closer relationship. It was very hard for my mother to tolerate my appearance: tattoos, shaved head, unisex clothing. And when I told my mother that I’m living with a woman she replied, “now it makes sense” and hung up the phone. The day after, my sister called me saying, that my mother writhes in hysterics and cries that I’m a freak. My sister stood up for me and told her that there are different people in the world and that this is perfectly normal. It’s funny that animes helped her realize that :). She really loves animes and also watches the genre yaoi :). After that, my brother called me (he has known about my homosexuality for a long time), and asked me to be very sensitive if I decide to tell my father. My brother was very concerned that it would be difficult for him to overcome the news. I refrained from talking to my father, but I also didn’t hide anything on purpose. My parents made their peace with it, even though they remain unhappy about my lifestyle. But now I’m a grown up, I’m strong and I’m self-confident, they don’t have any other choice but to accept me for who I am.
Biserka and Limun
Comic creator: Natalia Kim
Hello, we are Biserka and Limun. We got these names from the movie “The Parade” that we watched in the beginning of our relationship. Biserka thinks that we are very different, but I think that we are quite similar. But we still need time to understand each other. Biserka taught me how to talk about my feelings and emotions. Sometimes I drew for her comics when I wasn’t able to explain something with words. That is how the story of Biserka and Limun was born.
Story of Oksana A.
Comic creator: Lydia
At my previous work as HR manager, I decided to employ my ex-girlfriend with whom we were friends again. At work, we started a new affair and then we broke up again. She went crazy, was rude to me in front of other employees, entered into my office and threw files and documents on the floor. I had to find a way how to terminate her employment without the director asking questions about my personal life. Two months later, she finally got fired. But before that, there was an office party where our general accountant made strange jokes like “Oxana will line the girls up.” After the dismissal of my ex, our director invited me into her office and asked me: “Where did you actually meet this person? Oxana, are you a lesbian?” There was no sense in lying, so I said “Yes, how did you find out?” Then she showed me a web link sent to her by the general accountant. It was a link to my profile at a lesbian dating site. But I never registered on that website. My ex created an account for me and sent it through the general accountant with whom they had already become friends. We spoke with the director, and I understood the jokes and strange glances coming from other employees. Our discussion ended with the statement “As for me, it doesn’t matter with whom you sleep – as long as you are a good specialist.”
P.S. Three months later there were staffing cuts, and I fired myself!:)))
Story of Oksana T.
Comic creator: Lydia
When I was 14, my mom sent me to a winter pioneer camp. At that time it was REALLY HARD to arrange this. This camp was organized by some factory, so the parents of all children were hard workers, and the children were brought up by the street. First, there were no special buses, the whole crowd went by suburban train. Surprisingly, noone got lost at the station. When we approached the housing, I just froze in shock. There were two large barracks for 10-15 beds each, a “girls” and a “boys” room. You had to go through first to get to the second. Thoroughfare. And that is only the beginning…
It was cold winter, it snowed heavily. We slept with our clothes, including the jackets, on. Toilet and shower were outside, but the doors were locked up at 10 PM. There was noone I could ask for help, no camp counselors at all. We had no choice, but to use the balcony. We took shower once in three days. And then we hurriedly put on clothes and sprinted to the corps while our hair turned into icicles. We were fed poorly… Borsch consisted of red water and thinly sliced pieces of cabbage. We were given a loaf of bread for the whole group, that we “newbies” (me and 3 other people) stealthily ate within 5 minutes.
There were elder bullies, who mocked us, smoked in the bedroom so much that nothing could be seen 5 meters ahead. One night, when I was asleep, one of the bullies’ minions hurt my pinky. I woke up from the wild pain in my little finger. Later they shaved punk another guy’s head. He endured it all. The bullies incited that guy to come and grab the noses of all the newbies. A fight broke out. One of the “new” girls wrestled him to the ground, but didn’t beat him when he was down. He was already defeated. Later I found out that if that girl would have hit that minion, she would have been beaten up by the 5′ 11″ tall bully with a brown belt in karate. Moreover, he was not bothered by in the disparity of forces. That night, I cried from despair, resentment and injustice. “Why are some people so heartless and cruel idiots? Why is there gender discrimination? Why divide people into newcomers and old-timers? Why are leaders those who are physically stronger?”. I was crying because people do not think and do not evolve, and live their lives like barbarians.
On the 4th day of camp, I decided to escape with all the newbies. There were four of us. We went to inspect the area and to look for the way home, there were no mobile phones or navigators at that time. So we’d have to go out on the road and catch a car or to find our way to suburban trains. By sheer luck, my parents came to see me that day. One look at me was enough and our suitcases were packed up in silence and lightning-fast. Without telling anyone, all four of us left with my parents. After all the struggle I have called this camp “the Zoe Kosmodemyanskaya Camp”. At that moment I realized: it’s very easy to lose YOURSELF, YOUR inner world, your PERSONALITY, when you’re in a society where there is no understanding and acceptance. I have chosen the path of escaping from this terrible world, where there was neither love nor simple understanding.