“They Hate Me In Vain – LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia” is the first docufilm to address the reality of LGBT Christians in Russia. It was made in 2013 by Yulia Matsiy, independent Russian director and filmmaker who resides in Milan, Italy.
The film is a trip through today’s Russia where life for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has become increasingly difficult following the 2013 law 6.21 prohibiting the so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
The law, which claims to “defend traditional Russian families and minors from homosexual propaganda,” has in reality legitimized violence against LGBT people, promoted bullying, stifled freedom of the press and deflected attention away from the country’s real social issues.
Interviews, original footage and testimony recorded live by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Russia tell the story currently unfolding in the country. The film spotlights the current situation of LGBT Christians who a minority in the minority in Russia. They are looked upon with discomfort by the majority of LGBT people and Russian churches single them out as sinners and excommunicate them.
The film features:
• the most well-known figures in the Russian LGBT movement: Andrew Obolensky, Nikolay Alexeyev, Valery Sozaev and Yury Maximov;
• the Bishop of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church, Volodymyr Wilde;
• Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Pastor, Jim Mulcahy.
The film presents:
• footage of protest demonstrations held by LGBT people in Moscow;
• material from Russian language websites documenting violence against LGBT people;
• exclusive footage of the 6th Eastern European and Central Asian Forum of LGBT Christians held in Kiev (Ukraine);
• testimony from numerous Russian LGBT individuals.
The title refers to the Gospel of John 15:25. According to the official Russian Synod translation, this phrase literally means “They hate me in vain”. It reminds us that Jesus himself was persecuted for his ideas, which turned society’s accepted morals on their head.
English Title: “THEY HATE ME IN VAIN – LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia”
Italian title: “INVANO MI ODIANO – Racconto sui cristiani LGBT”
Russian Title: “ВОЗНЕНАВИДЕЛИ МЕНЯ НАПРАСНО – Рассказ о ЛГБТ-Христианах”
Genre: Documentary, Length: 66 minutes
Language: Russian/English, Subtitles: English
Director: Yulia Matsiy, Production: independent, year 2013.
FACTSHEET: They hate me invain (file pdf)
Young Russian director Yulia Matsiy lives in Milan, Italy, where she graduated from NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Film & New Media. She currently works freelance with numerous ad and communication agencies. In 2012, she served on the young people’s jury at the Milan Filmmaker Film Festival.
Prizes and acknowledgements:
• “Best Subject” Prize at the Instant Movie Festival 2013 – Milano 48 ore –for the short film I’m going just for a weekend (on LGBT issues).
• Special Mention for the short film Konstantin (on LGBT issues) along with the projection of three of her short films at the festival “Tracce Cinematografiche Film Festival” in the city of Nettuno, Italy, 2013.
• Festinal Winner with the First Place Prize for 60 seconds against lesbianphobia Arcilesbica Zami, Milan, Italy, 2010.
• “Audience Choice” Award for the short film Gamble – Let’s Bet You Do It, Milan, Italy, 2010.
Her work has participated in the following festivals and cinema events: VII Rassegna SteNik 2013 (Aprilia); Camaiore Film Festival 2013 (Camaiore); Festival delle Culture Indipendenti 2013 (Rome); Horror Project Festival 2013 (Rome); Videomaker Film Festival 2013 (Casalnuovo di Napoli) G.A.L.P. Italia 2012.
Select short films are available on VIMEO and YouTube.
Contact the director or organize a viewing of her documentary “They Hate Me In Vain – LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia” by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Yulia is an anti-conformist, a provocative artist and very sensitive to social issues. For her film ‘They Hate Me In Vain” she chose to tell the story of a minority within a minority. It makes clear that LGBT Christians exist (in Russia) and that they are no different from other gay people or from other Christians; they only difference is how society treats them.”
– oldtrashwithcigarettes.com, web magazine, September 6, 2013
“They Hate Me In Vain – LGBT Christians in Today’s Russia is the first ever film about gay Christians in Russia.”
– MilanoPost.info, October 16, 2013
“In just over an hour, Yulia gives a nearly complete picture of what’s happening in Russia. … Three years in the planning, the film was made in a matter of a few months – right at the same time Dutch filmmakers were arrested in Russia as they attempted to film young gay people.”
– ilgrandecolibri.com, November 18, 2013
“This documentary highlights the contradiction between the fundamentals of [Christian] faith and the practice of hate, which is what Russian nationalists are doing. Indeed, this is one of the film’s main themes: the current situation of lesbian, gay and transgender Christians in Russia and neighboring countries. They are doubly marginalized; they are rejected by Christians and stigmatized by the atheist majority of gay and lesbian Russians.”
– cinemagay.it, December 2013
“There’s a line in Yulia Matsiy’s documentary “They Hate Me In Vain” about the life of gay Christians in Russia that really captures the essence of this film. Yuri Maximov, a leader of Russian LGBT Christian group “Light of the World”, says, “No homophobic law, in Russia or elsewhere, will ever be able to take away our will to love and be together.”
These individuals are harassed by the police, attacked by gangs of thugs and risk arrest if they speak publicly about their homosexuality. It’s admirable that they can still hold on to hope and find meaning in these difficult times they are facing.”
– Gionata.org, January 22, 2014
“They Hate Me In Vain is a documentary by independent filmmaker Yulia Matsiy about the situation of lesbian and gay people in Russia. The film’s title refers to a verse in the Gospel of John. Indeed, Jesus himself was the first to be persecuted for his revolutionary ideas.”
– TuttoMilano, supplement to Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, p. 85. January, 23 2014
This site was made possible with the contribution of the Gionata Project