A young Russian violinist has come out on YouTube and his story is both horrifying and incredibly inspiring.
23-year-old Artem Kolesov grew up in rural town just outside of Moscow, Russia, in a very Christian and homophobic household.
His parents were pastors and regularly stated that “gays should be destroyed” and other horrible things.
“During my entire childhood I heard from my parents and the church that homosexuality is a huge sin,” Kolesov says in a YouTube video.
This was devastating for Kolesov, who realised he was gay when he was only 5 years old.
“So I started praying in secret to God so that he would make me ‘normal’. In my family I often heard that all gays should be destroyed, that they should be bombed, and that if anyone in our family turns out to be gay, my family should kill them with their bare hands.”
Kolesov explains that he was taught to hate gay people.
“I never heard anything good about gay people. All I knew was that gays are the people who everyone should hate,” he tells BuzzFeed News.
“I was scared because I knew that I was gay. I didn’t know anyone who I could talk to about it. It seemed that I was the only gay person in Russia.”
Kolesov was depressed and thinking about killing himself, constantly questioning how he could be Christian AND gay.
The young Russian catches a break
Fortunately things started turning around for the young Russian when he got a scholarship to study music in Canada. Finally he got to meet other young people like himself.
“The first time I met an openly gay person I started shaking because I know that I am just like him. I loathed myself and every LGBT person around me.”
Kolsesov now refuses to be scared anymore and wants to inspire other young people in Russia and around the world.
“For a long time, I thought that everything I went through was a curse, but now I know that it’s the biggest blessing I’ve ever received.
“We don’t come out for heterosexual people to know,” he says. “And we don’t come out for the ones who hate us to know.
“We shout and make as much noise as possible just so other people like us who are scared and can’t be themselves would know that they are not a mistake and they are not alone.
“When I was growing up I was isolated from the LGBT community,” he continues.
“Just hearing anything about LGBT people I realised that maybe if the Russian kids hear about my story maybe they could know that a lot of people are going through the same struggles.”
What an inspiring young man. Hopefully his message will reach many young people everywhere.