NOVEMBER 11-13, 2016 | The Third LGBTQIA Family Conference
The conference was attended by over 250 people, half of whom were specialists – psychologists, sociologists, educators, lawyers and researchers, while the other half represented the LGBTQIA community, primarily LGBTQIA couples and families.
On Saturday, November 12, the Plenary session was marked by presentations on family diversity and the differences in modern family models, on “blind spots” in Russian psychology and sexology education which hinders Russian universities from producing specialists trained in SOGI issues, on the invisibility of certain types of partnerships in the professional community; there was also a report on the ethical aspect of the work of a helping specialist working with a discriminated community.
Psychologist, researchers and activists also presented their findings on the way internalised homophobia affects families, on the invisibility of bisexuality both in the LGBTQIA community and in our heteronormative society, on the concerns parents face after their children come out and on the pressure which discordant couples with a mixed HIV status face.
However, the Plenary session saw not only specialist presentations, but also a word from members of the LGBTQIA community: they spoke about open relationships and about the challenges that LGBT believers face in a family relationship.
The Round table discussion for specialists was a good space for practicing psychologists to discuss the difficulties they come across in their work, as well as to outline their needs and come up with possible solutions.
The issues brought up at the conference engaged not only LGBTQIAs who already have a family, but also those who are only beginning to think about starting one. A vital part of the conference was a legal seminar conducted by lawyer Tatiana Glushkova on how LGBTQIA families can exercise their rights within the framework of the Russian legislative system. More than that, LGBTQIA families had access to individual legal consultations at the conference, and 8 families took that chance.
Sunday, November 13, was a day of psychological workshops. There were sixteen to choose from, with topics ranging from the peculiarities of various unions and partnerships, parenting in and LGBTQIA family and relationship hurdles to issues of sexual and gender self-identification and choice of partnership.
The Conference truly was a hub for the exchange of experiences, knowledge and ideas, especially at the gathering of Rainbow families where a guest from Italy shared her 44-year LGBTQIA family experience. There were also presentations from LGBT organisations from around Russia that support LGBTQIA families. Their geography stretched from Saint Petersburg and Tomsk to Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.
Another important event was the presentation of the books published by “Resource” in 2016. The first one is a collection of articles titled “Peculiarities of working with homosexual and bisexual clients”, under the editorship of Natalia Safonova. The aim of the authors of the book was to give direction and supplementary knowledge to psychologists in order to establish an affirmative approach in working with members of the LGBTQIA community.
The second book, authored by Evgenia Monastyrskaya, was published under the title “LGBT families in Russia. True stories.” It is a collection of emotional life stories told by LGBTs themselves. There are stories of lesbian families, polyamorous relationships, trans* transitions, long-distance relationships, a search for one’s own identity and for someone to love.
The conference closed with a performance of the Playback#01 theatre which allowed the participants to express the thoughts and emotions they went through in the very rich three days of the conference.
As we had hoped, the conference turned out to be warm, friendly and safe.
The film is about the Third Conference of LGBTQIA-Family