POST EVENT PRESS RELEASE for the Fifth Family LGBTQIAPP+ Conference
It finally happened. We were able to run all of its events in a new format – #ConferenceNonStop
When it turned out that we couldn’t have all of the events under one roof, the organizing committee made the decision to prolong the conference and run its events separately at different venues.
Two events were held on December 15 and 16: a series of feminist presentations titled “What’s wrong with traditional family values?” and a full day of workshops, round table discussions, and manifestoes.
We are grateful to our partners, the Goethe Institut in Moscow and the AIDS.Center for providing a safe and friendly space for us. Over 300 people took part in those events.
One month prior to that, on November 10 and 11, the dates the conference was originally set to run, our speakers made their presentations online with around 50 viewers watching the live stream. We also held two offline workshops, which 40 people attended. Another event that marked the 11th of November was the webinar of Lyuda Orel and Trixter, which took place at the same time their offline session was meant to happen. On November 14th Danila Gulyaev presented his seminar in Moscow – it was held openly and 50 people attended.
A number of recordings of the conference presentations were published on Resource LGBTQIA Moscow’s social media pages. The #ConferenceNonstop (which can be found using the Russian hashtag #КонференцияNonStop) will continue in February. We will be hosting open events, posting videos of past talks, and publishing a collection of articles based on the conference presentations.
What happened? Why was the conference cancelled on November 9, the day it was set to open?
Starting November 7 the organizers and volunteers of the conference started receiving threats and insults. On November 9 such calls were made to the venue as well. We were forced to cancel the conference because not only the participants of our conference, but all the participants of that venue were under threat. The danger proved to be very real – the volunteers of the conference were attacked on the night of November 9 after the conference had been cancelled. They were attacked in the street – someone sprayed pepper spray on their faces. This happened in a public spot near the conference venue. Two people were left with burns on their eyes and face. We called an ambulance and the police and that same night witnesses of the attack testified to the police.
We found an additional venue in order to hold the conference on November 11, but some homophobes became aware of the address and started threatening the organizers and participants of the conference again, forcing us to cancel the second part of the event. The security guards we hired escorted the participants out of the venue.
After that incident, the organizing committee made the decision to change the format of the conference completely. The conference would be held openly, with the addresses of the venues posted online and available ahead of time.
Why did we decide to take this path?
When we analyzed what had happened, it became evident that we are most likely to be able to ensure the safety of an event when it is held openly.
The events we held on December 14, 15 and 16 confirmed this hypothesis. The most important outcome is the realization that openness means safety.
We drew the police’s attention to our safety in the street and notified them about our event. It is the police’s duty to ensure law enforcement in public places and we will continue demanding this from our government.
But most importantly, by being open we stopped the homophobes from starting a “witch hunt”, persecuting and intimidating us. Their illegal actions – their threats and persecution – became visible, were publicly condemned and did not happen again.
In the future we will continue openly turning to the media and attract public attention to our large-scale events and to any injustice or breach of our rights.
Finally, openness restores our dignity and truth, our self-respect and confidence in our values and actions.
Other outcomes of the conference:
– The events of the conference received an encouraging response: all kinds of people and communities expressed their support. This showed us public opinion can be shifted to condemn the actions of homophobes and support the work of LGBTQ+ organizations.
– We have started developing a strategy for the actions of the homophobes to be condemned in order for the guilty parties to be punished.
– We have strengthened and broadened our partnership with friendly institutions, organizations and initiative groups and will keep working on it. We are open to collaboration and will be glad to co-organize events which reflect our shared values.
– We have received 250 000 rubles as donations towards the conference. These funds have allowed us to run the conference on different dates at different venues and ensure participants’ safety. This has shown us that the LGBTQ+ community is responsible and active when it comes to activities that are organized for them. With this in mind, we believe that we can set even more ambitious goals.
We are thankful to all those who took part in the conference, who shared our concerns and helped us. Thank you. There is power in community.
Our further plans are to openly hold the remaining events of #ConferenceNonStop:
– at the AIDS.Center
February 5 (Tuesday), 7 to 10 p.m.
“How gay culture affects us and we affect it”, a training seminar by Danila Gulyaev
February 12 (Tuesday), 7 to 10 p.m.
“Traditional values in a “non-traditional” family”, a workshop by Tatiana Klimenko and Elina Novgorodtseva
February 19 (Tuesday), 7 to 10 p.m.
“Fluid identities, fluid families: hasn’t this gone too far?”, a presentation and discussion by Evgeny Brazul-Brushkovsky
February 26 (Tuesday), 7:30 to 9 p.m.
“Diagnosing and preventing STDs and HIV among LGBTQIAPP+s”, a seminar by Yury Tyulenev
February 13 (Wednesday), 8 to 10 p.m. at the “Forpost” club
“Time to be together”, a performance by the “Aquarelle” playback theatre
As of March 2019 “Resource” is going to regularly host webinars, so watch this space.
We are looking forward to seeing you at our 6th Family LGBTQIAPP+ Conference in November 2019!