This Russian web series is risking everything to voice queer stories

Here I Come defies Russia’s homophobic laws to spread hope and positivity for the country’s gay community.

Two men speaking to each other on a city street

Set in Moscow, Here I Come is a Russian web series aiming to spotlight stories of young queer adults in one of Europe’s most homophobic countries.

The show follows Roma, a struggling Armenian law student doubling as a pizza boy who, during the aftermath of an unplanned party, meets Alexey who turns his world upside down. Through distributing on YouTube, the show manages to hurdle strict anti-gay laws to display possibilities of hope, acceptance, and love for queer folk living in Russia.

In June 2013, Vladimir Putin signed the ‘Gay Propaganda’ law which has since increased hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community. Under this legislation, it is illegal to promote “nontraditional sexual relations to minors” whether that be through the press, TV, radio, internet, etc. This has caused mass censorship of the country’s queer voices, along with limiting young people’s access to valuable supports and information. Activists take on huge risks to combat these laws, and Here I Come’s show-creators Elizaveta Simbirskaya and Andreï Fenøčka are no different.

Speaking to Vice, Simbirskaya and Fenøčka discussed the struggles they faced when developing the series. Not only did they risk losing their jobs, but the cast and crew’s safety was also in jeopardy when filming scenes such as the gay-kiss near the Kremlin. Problems also arose when trying to find actors willing to portray LGBTQ+ characters as many declined due to being uncomfortable with the roles, or due to not supporting the rights of the community.

Despite the tough circumstances that queer people face living in Russia, Simbirskaya and Fenøčka did not want to focus on the negativity. Their web-series aims to provide light for the darkened Russian community and show them that there is hope.

“We didn’t want to portray gay people having a hard time with their sexuality, even though it’s difficult to live in Russia as a queer or trans person. I decided to write a story about how things can be easy, that it’s OK to be gay.”

Through premiering on YouTube, Here I Come has the potential to reach a vast audience. As well as this, they are able to restrict viewing of the web series to those over the age of 18, which helps to comply with Russian law. The platform is cost-effective and meant that partnering with a big production house wasn’t needed to fund the project, which would have been unlikely anyway given the content.

All nine episodes are available to view in full on YouTube now, and its beautiful cinematography and fast-paced storyline will have you binging it in one go.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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