On Tuesday, July 19, top Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina came out as lesbian in a YouTube interview conducted by vlogger Vitya Kravchenko. She also shared that she is currently dating Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako, later confirming the news with an Instagram post of the two of them together.
At 25 years old, Daria Kasatkina is the world’s number 12 tennis player, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open earlier this year. She currently lives and trains in Barcelona, Spain. In the interview with Vitya Kravchenko on his YouTube channel, the tennis player came out as lesbian, answering with a firm “Yes.” when Kravchenko asked if she had a girlfriend.
Speaking on her decision to come out, she said: “Living in the closet is impossible. Not for the long run, no. It is too hard. It is pointless. You will be completely focused on that until you choose to come out.”
She then added, “Of course, it is up to you to decide how to do it and how much you tell. Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and f**k everyone else.”
The conversation between the tennis player and Kravchenko then veered to talking about the situation that LGBTQ+ people face in Russia nowadays. Kasatkina said that, were she still living in her home country, she would never hold her girlfriend’s hand in public. “Judging by how things are going there, it will never be OK,” she said.
She was referring to the fact the LGBTQ+ community in Russia faces constant discrimination, with the country ranking third to last in the recent ‘Rainbow Europe’ index published by ILGA-Europe, which lists countries in Europe based on how LGBTQ+ friendly they are.
One of the main issues in Russia is the so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law, which was introduced in 2013 to censor queer content for minors and has been used to threaten and intimidate LGBTQ+ activists and persecute queer folks in the country.
— Daria Kasatkina (@DKasatkina) May 30, 2022
Recently, Russian officials proposed to further expand the law to include adults, an action that would completely outlaw content on LGBTQ+ issues and themes in the entire country. These stricter rules are currently under discussion in the nation’s parliament and lawmakers hope to introduce them later this year.
In discussion with Kravchenko, Kasatkina spoke of the notion that some people in Russia have that being gay is a choice. “Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay. Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point? It is important to talk about these things. It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support,” she said.
The tennis player also mentioned that what inspired her to come out was lesbian Russian footballer Nadezhda doing the same thing in June. “Not only did Nadya help herself by coming out and get this burden off her chest, she has also helped others,” Kasatkina said.
“I believe it is important that influential people from sports, or any other sphere really, speak about it,” she added.
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