When we meet, Oleg pulls out a novel by journalist Artur Solomonov, which he says caused a fair share of controversy when published earlier this year in Russia. Its protagonist is an actor who falls in love with another actor. None of the major publishing houses would publish it. A small publisher finally picked it up, releasing the book with a disclaimer on the back cover: “This work does not contain homosexual propaganda and is not meant to offend people of faith.” Despite—or perhaps thanks to—the controversy, Oleg says the book is selling well.

I was born and grew up in Saratov, Russia. It’s a provincial town, built on a mix of old-fashioned Orthodox Christian values (which condemned homosexuality as a sin) and Soviet beliefs (when most people thought that homosexuality didn’t exist in the Soviet Society at all).

Read Oleg and Dmitriy‘s and Tatiana‘s stories at The New Yorker.

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