3rd stage of this year's world cultural conferences after Budapest and Bucharest:
St. Petersburg/Stockholm -- The third and final stage of this year's ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) world rainbow cultural conference took place in St. Petersburg on September 23rd with discussions, art work, films and musical performances -- part of the biggest queer cultural festival ever in Russia and free from any harassment or bans by the authorities.
"This was the first International Festival of Queer Culture in St. Petersburg and the biggest event of its kind in Russia," says ILGCN co-ordinator Polina Savchenko. "For 10 days the city saw theatrical performances, concerts, photo exhibitions, poetry slams, seminars, workshops and discussions at different venues of the city (both LGBT and non-LGBT) -- and information about the Festival was widespread both in the LGBT community and in the general society."
"I was very happy to get this opportunity to tell the audience about Helsinki´s 10th Tribade Day & Night Festival and to sing some of my songs," says Finnish ILGCN co-ordinator Anne Jaaskelainen, also
co-ordinator of the annual Tribade festival.
ILGCN Grizzly Bear Honors St. Petersburg Organizers
"We were also happy to show some Nordic films and samples of the travelling ILGCN & Tupilak (Nordic rainbow cultural workers) art and photos at the conference," says Bill Schiller of the ILGCN Information
Secretariat in Stockholm. "And we were proud to hand over the ILGCN 2009 'Grizzly Bear' honoring those struggling in especially ferocious homophobic environments to the organizers of the historic Queer Cultural
Festival in St. Petersburg."
Nordic participants were especially grateful for support and accomodation from veteran ILGCN Russian co-ordinator Alexander Kukarsky, also participating in the ILGCN conference and founder of Russia's
oldest gay organization, Krilja (Wings).
"The organizers of this year's Queer Cultural Festival believe our goal has been successfully achieved -- unification of different queer people around values of openness, tolerance and mutual respect," adds
Polina. "The audiences included gays, lesbians, transgender and heterosexual people, all enjoying the events in a friendly and open atmosphere and celebrating diversity. The feedback from both LGBT and
non-LGBT audiences is the same: 'We appreciate the atmosphere which is inclusive of all, it is a powerful message, when one social groups recognizes and stands up for the rights of another."
"As a result of the festival, different human rights groups and organizations have made plans for future collaboration and the festival organizers of St. Petersburg have been empowered to continue full
participation in the social and cultural life of their city. ," Polina concludes.
The initiator of the festival was the St. Petersburg LGBT organization, "Coming Out," but many organizations -- both LGBT and non-LGBT-- joined forces to co-organize the event. Especially
appreciated support also came from the consulates of Netherlands and of Sweden, represented in person at the festival's inauguration.
Earlier and Future ILGCN Conference Sites
Earlier 2009 ILGCN conference stages took place in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in May and in the Hungarian capital of Budapest in July (see ILGCN press releases).
Discussions are under way about the sites of the stages of the 2010 ILGCN world conference -- with proposals from Belgrad - Serbia, Gothenburg - Sweden and Warsaw - Poland (July 16-18 dur More information: ILGCN Information secretariat email@example.com