Preword

Truth with Ornaments is a gay allegorical novel based on a true story. Two men. One life in exchange for another's to reset hardships to zero with the aftertaste of first love.

From the author: Imagine a book that has the powers to change a die-hard homophobe into an understanding person. I was on my way to Krasnoyarsk from Ekaterinburg when I felt an urge to speak my heart. While it was cold outside (early February in Siberia), I was burning inside.

As there was no one around to pour my soul to, I took a paper and started to write my truth in the dim light of a railway carriage. Over a night, I came out. Later I turned it into a novel, having added some ornaments. When translating it from Russian into English, I kept in my mind that words create understanding and erase ignorance.

For you, my reader, I have found special ones.

News

Russian Street of Invisible LGBT Places, 2 September 2021


The door to my right leads to Central Station, a gay club on Dumskay Street in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.


Inside, on the 14th of May in 2010, I presented my gay novel in Russian, self-published at my own risk. After the presentation, the book became available for purchase only in the city’s sole gay bookstore located in the heart of Nevsky prospect. At the time, it was hard to imagine that some three years later the notorious anti-gay “propaganda” law would be approved. 2013 heralded the starting point of politically sanctioned attacks on the main symbol of LGBT culture — the six-colored flag. To many gay Russians, the summer of that year is remembered as less iridescent than ever — it marked a step back.


The law enables the most odious politicians to score cheap political points; anything six-colored risks getting targeted. A case against Chistaya Liniya, an ice-cream company, ends up with the brand redesigning one of their wraps. More controversial cases follow.


Should you happen to explore Dumskay Street in 2021, you will fail to find any nameplate with the name of the aforementioned gay club. Its owners are forced not to have it in order to safely operate their business.


The fight for human rights has never ceased: while the local government keeps trying to create the illusion of an LGBT-free city, the rebellious spirit of Saint-Petersburg takes invisible care of anything targeted by the inhumane.


Don’t search for the gay bookstore though. We lost it; the place is permanently closed, but that will be covered in another story. While waiting for it, go to Amazon and get yourself a copy of Truth with Ornaments.


Originally published on Medium

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You Gotta Be Strong to Live Your Life in MultiColor, 13 August 2021


The life of an openly gay person in Russia is not full. Most times, it is dangerous and takes courage to live the way you are. Far from everyone can be that brave, so a lot of LGBT people make up their minds to leave the homeland for a better place, by any means, because they want to enjoy their lives in full.


hardly ever think about the price paid in bloodshed and deaths during times when life for LGBT people in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Europe has been hard. There is still a lot of work to do, as James Finn writes in his recent stories, but their lives are easier now because they have fought for it. Back to LGBT immigrants: are you ready to fight in case of need?


The other day I prepared a few creatives with six-color rainbows that will be used in photography and video supporting the promotion of my recent LGBT novel, and sent the files to the printing company I had used for the last few years. It was only next morning when it dawned on me that by sending those files, I exposed my attitude and relationship to LGBT culture, and I had taken a considerable risk of being rejected as a client.


Yesterday, upon entering their workshop, I asked for my order. “What was it?” asked the manager.


“It is multicolor,” I answered with a smile.

“Oh, I see,” he said, smiling back. “It is indeed multicolor.”


It wasn’t difficult to trace the look of understanding what was behind “multicolor” flash across the manager’s eyes — the eyes of a traditionally married man. And I felt relief to be accepted so casually. My recent novel aims for the same thing — to raise acceptance of LGBT people in a casual way.


To me, LGBT people are a big family scattered around the globe. Despite the distances between us, through communication, we share our experiences and make each other’s lives better. Getting around impossibilities and obstacles, I managed to self-publish my novel on Amazon, and now my story is ready not only to inspire others in almost every corner of the world, but also make them stronger.


Originally published on Medium

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Release of a Butterfly, 23 July 2021


It was another sweltering day in July, and I couldn’t recall such heat in my whole life. In the gym, the air conditioners were almost dead. A few buddies were more than alive and workin gout. I had just finished another rep when I spotted a butterfly in the distance. In a rage, it was flapping against the glass wall. “Chances to escape the frowsty place critically minimal” flashed across my mind as I made my way to the creature. With all gentleness, I locked it in my hands. How wild it was! I could feel its instincts beating against my fingers, and my heart took on the same beat. In a few moments, I released the butterfly through the open window.


The novelty of that experience returned to me a couple of days later and drew a parallel to my first sexual experience — there was also tension and release and freedom.


I was lucky with my first partner. Sex didn’t look to me like something dirty. It didn’t make me feel bad or caused a sense of disgust. Back then, I wasn’t aware that far from everyone experienced the same lightness and freedom on the transition from a boy to a man as I did.


There are a lot of people around who call it a sin or deem it something dirty. I think they weren’t as lucky as me with their first experience. Therefore, it is neither a sin nor something dirty, and it shouldn’t be cleaned. It should be released.


Originally published on Medium

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Losing Your Virginity Isn’t a Big Deal. Coming Out Is,19 July 2021


I could not come out when I was young because I was afraid that my family and friends would reject me. Back then, I did not know I could find great company in that loneliness, or that I should never try to commit suicide because of that fear.


In the early 90s, the Iron Curtain was lifted. I spent my childhood years with no information about people like me and felt utterly lonely — as if in outer space.


Present-day Nikolsky Sad, Saint Petersburg. About 15 years ago, I took pills to commit suicide. As I gazed at the cathedral, I started to lose consciousness. Photo by Khudyakov Vladislav.


Floating for days and nights, I raised numerous questions about my identity and fantasized about men. I was still a minor when, at a lakeside, I spotted a stranger in white and felt mutual gravitation.


After a few dates, he explained that we could no longer see each other because he was married, and gave me a glossy magazine with naked Polish guys as a present. Oh, I did not feel lonely anymore.


Should that happen in modern Russia, that man would face legal charges for promoting information about LGBT people to minors. As an adult now, I manifest — I didn’t fall victim to that man. I was and am grateful to him. I would have fallen victim to those who take sexual orientation as something that may be controlled.


I came out when I was 25 and turned the experience into an allegorical novel about gay men as people who experience love and affection. At high risk, I self-published a limited edition of the book in Russian. None of the first readers (my colleagues) knew that I was gay, and the inevitability of revelation about my sexual orientation scared the shit out of me. Some of them told me that the book changed their attitude to LGBT people from negative to tolerant. Oh, I could wish for nothing more!


Fifteen years later, having translated the novel into English, I am coming out again. This time, I am challenging the ignorance of those who, for example, promote conversion therapy in Ireland or restrict minors from access to information about LGBT people in Hungary.


Originally published on Medium

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