“I’ve only just begun” video vs. Homophobia in Russia
The burden of religious hatred and state repression has weighed heavily on queer people in St. Petersburg, as elsewhere in Russia, especially in 2012. This week, filmmaker Elias Koskimies released a sexy, poetic, and profoundly relevant video testifying to the violence undergone by queer people living under the regime, and the possibilities for triumph.
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Elias Koskimies, a Finnish director of TV commercials, teamed up with fellow Finn Kepa Lehtinen to set their haunting song “I’ve only just begun” to a baroque DIY video featuring scenes of violence and triumph. The timely and triggering music video was filmed in Helsinki and involved over 60 collaborators.
The purpose? To raise attention to the notorious municipal law banning “homosexual propaganda” which was passed in Russia’s second largest city this past March. The law makes any public statement in support of LGBT rights illegal, and equates all gay cultural expression with “the corruption of youth.” Dedicated to Venuz Vulgar and “his long journey to save his imprisoned friend,” the video contains scenes of clashes with neo-Nazis and religious zealots brandishing placards.
Tempting Russia’s vicious state censors, there are numerous scenes in the montage of a procession featuring what appears to be a drag queen as the Virgin Mary. In the context of punk band Pussy Riot’s imprisonment and trial for “inciting religious hatred” for performing an anti-Putin song in a Russian Orthodox Church last winter, Koskimies‘s video is sure to raise a few eyebrows in the harshly homophobic and increasingly religious country.