Making Out For a Queer Revolution: Roman Gunt and Nick Gavrilov Capturing LGBTQI+ Russian Youth

Konstantin (@konstfil_) & Sasha (@dokush) kissing in front of the State Duma Building (which introduced the Gay Propaganda Law in 2013).
Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

9 couples of young queer lovers gathered outside key institutions (political institutions such as the Duma but also landmark sites) in Russia to protest with a kiss-in demonstration against the barbaric treatment of queer people in Chechnya.

‘We decided to shoot this project after the news of prosecution and police torture of LGBTQ+ community in Chechnya. I was shocked by the cruelty and primitiveness of it all – it’s a crime against humanity’, Gunt recalls in an interview with Dazed.

Drawing on many different aesthetic references, from fashion photographer Jurgen Teller and Lotta Volkova to experimental musician Clara 3000 , 23-years old Saint Petersburg-based creative-director Roman Gunt is one of the leading voices of the underground fashion collective Generation Z and organiser of queer rave ГРАНЬ (edge).

This young and creative Russian queer wave is making clear the connection between art and identity politics in uncertain times: according to Gunt, ‘Russia is in state of some kind of hibernation but people involved in fashion and art fields trying to do their best to unit people’.

It is important to recall that in 2013 a Gay Propaganda Law was introduced to ban the ‘promotion of traditional sexual relations to minors’, and since then it has incremented the stigma, harassment and violence against LGBTQI+ people. 

Nastya (@tvoemyaso) & Ilya (@gingerbearded_bread) kissing in front of The Bronze Horseman, an equestrian statue of Peter The Great in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

To respond to this climate of fear, Gunt joined forces with photographer Nick Gavrilov to celebrate the positivity of queer youth, who do not want to give up and fight against institutionalised discrimination. 

‘This project is primarily a story of each couple, an invitation to their personal life. The LGBTQ+ community is now growing and becoming stronger in Russia, and the most important thing is to support them,’ Gavrilov says. ‘We wanted to channel positive energy that would affect the future’. 

Yana (@beziz.yana) & Rita (@mrgrt_0) kissing at Apraksin Dvor, an old flea market in Saint Petersburg. Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.
Darina (@mozbie) & Olesya kissing on the subway.
Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

For Gavrilov and Gunt, a strong sense of community offered them the key to give a platform to those who are underrepresented or made invisible in the mainstream media. Queering the space is the main outcome of the project, which is infused with a spirit of freedom and radical tenderness.

Alexander (@sashazntc) & Anastasiia (@misshaskyy) kissing inside the Hermitage Museum. Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.
Marta (@_marta_maa) & Vitalija (@njeprawda) kissing outside Palace Square. Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

Egor (@thundereon) & Misha (@goldinsidedaddy) kissing outside the Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg. Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.


Veronika (@allomamanbobo19) & Sasha standing on frozen Fontanka River.
Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

Dmitry (@dmitry.slo) & Alex (@sandy__rousseau) kissing outside the Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral. Photography: Nick Gavrilov, Creative Direction: Roman Gunt.

For more info on Gunt’s portfolio:

https://www.instagram.com/romangunt/?hl=en

https://www.behance.net/romangunt

https://www.vfiles.com/news/i-tried-to-escape-my-reality-through-fashion-producer-romangunt-on-his-st-petersburg-shoots

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