“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters and fuck everyone else”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA @KASATKINA ON INSTAGRAM
LGBTQI rights activists have praised Russia’s highest-ranked female tennis player, Daria Kasatkina, after she came out as gay in a Russian TV interview this week. Ranked as the Russian No. 1 player in singles, Daria has won four WTA Tour Titles in singles alongside one in doubles. She has since criticised Russian attitudes towards the LGBTQI community, stating “So many subjects are taboo in Russia. This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming gay is ridiculous. I think there is nothing easier in this world than being straight.”
“Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay. Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point?”, she continued. Her coming out is a watershed moment for LGBTQI representation in sport and is particularly poignant considering the deeply homophobic societal attitudes in place in Russia. She has been praised by Nadya Karpova, a Russian footballer that became the first openly gay Russian national team athlete after she came out in June 2022. “When I heard the news about Kasatkina, I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud. I was ecstatic, jumping around like crazy in my flat”, Nadya expressed.
“It is so important for younger people to have role models who are like them. For them to see that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. The timing is so symbolic as well, with all the fucked-up things happening in Russia”, she furthered. LGBT Network representative Igor Kochetkov labelled Daria’s decision “monumental”, stating: “This is the first time in our history that an undisputed sports star of Kasatkina’s stature has come out. And in Putin’s Russia sport is always political.”
Notably, Russia remains an intensely difficult place to exist as LGBTQI, with numerous rules legislating against LGBTQI rights. Homosexuality was illegal until 1993, with LGBTQI existence classed as a “mental illness” until as late as 1999. A mere six hours before Daria came out, six Duma deputies introduced a bill proposing a ban on public discussion of LGBTQI relationships in a positive or neutral light alongside any LGBTQI content in cinemas. These plans would see fines issued to any event or act interpreted as an attempt to “promote” homosexuality.
In July 2022, Russian lawmakers proposed extending a ban on the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships amongst minors to include adults, too. This builds upon an existing “gay propaganda” law passed by Russian legislators in 2013, the premise of which has been used to stop Pride protests and detain LGBTQI rights activists. Parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin noted that since Russia had left the Council of European Human Rights’s watchdog after its invasion of Ukraine, it would now be free to ban the promotion of “non-traditional values”, stating “demands to legalise same-sex marriages in Russia are now a thing of the past. Attempts to impose alien values on our society have failed.”
“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters and fuck everyone else”, Daria concluded in her TV interview. What a sentiment; what bravery.
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.