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  • Writer's pictureAisha Kerrigan

A Fairy Tale Parade

“This is it!” Dima raised his clenched hands to his chest, his face full of determination and his smile smug. “This is our moment to shine. We’ve been waiting for a whole year and now we finally get our chance.”

His friends listened to him with awe and open mouths from the floor, cans of weak alcohol symbolically by their sides. Dima would always get excited during Pride month, otherwise known to filthy commoners as June. Nearly every flat surface of his room proudly displayed rainbow flags, even his bed covers were swapped for ones with rainbows. Ordered off Amazon, of course, since Russia doesn’t like the gays.

Dima had sent email after email after email to local authorities in hopes of getting a permit to hold a Pride parade in Moscow’s city centre. At first, they were ignored, then he received a polite warning to cease this form of harassment. Even though he hated to admit it, the reply gave him butterflies. A small sense of growing excitement, one step closer to reaching his goal. Even though the emotion was short-lived. Fleeting. Like forbidden summer romance.

But this year he received a response that granted him permission to hold a parade in the city centre. It’s the best email he’s received in his mundane 18 years of existence. He’d finally be able to join forces – and hands – with his fellow LGBTQ+ comrades as they’d sing and march into the red Kremlin sunset.

“I’ve already created an event in Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and even Facebook. I’ve invited everyone!” He accentuated the last word.

“Did anybody respond to the event?” Natasha had raised her hand before speaking.

“Well…” Dima drawled and rolled his eyes to the side. People responded, sure. Nearly every single person that received an invite responded. Just with words not spoken by those of higher society.

“In a manner of speaking…” He finished.

“I can’t wait to show off my new heels!” Vadim chimed in with a broad smile on his delicate face and announced in a sing-song voice, “They are fabulo-o-ous!”

“I’ll make out with a girl… no, all the girls.” Natasha nodded smugly. She could almost feel soft lips touching hers, tender skin on her and-

“Did somebody say ‘make out with girls?’”

Dima screamed in a girly voice when the door opened, instinctively jumping high and ripping a rainbow poster off the wall behind him. His mother carefully popped her head out from behind the wooden door and looked at the group with innocent eyes.

“Dima? Is that your poster?”

She spotted her son hiding an obscenely large rainbow sheet of paper that, even when crumpled, still gave away what it was. The joys of double-printing.

“Ohhh why did you have to ruin it? I thought you liked rainbows.”

He didn’t answer but his eyes sparkled with determination. This was his chance. Mom, I’m gay. It’s just three words. Say them, Dima. But he couldn’t say them out loud. Not when his sweet mother’s smiling face blinked at him so innocently. So purely. Like a young doe frightened off at the slightest movement. But he had to. After all, if not now, then when would he come out? Dima took a deep breath, his face hardening each passing second until there was something Schwarzeneggerian about it. Then in a heartbeat, he gave her a big dorky smile and he became her little Dima once again.

“I do like rainbows. I just don’t like that one poster.”

His mother gave a soft ‘oohhh’ as her doe eyes scanned the room and set on her next victim whom she’d bless with a quiet ‘aahhh’.


Natasha reflexively but slowly leaned back at this greeting. Never in her life has she heard someone say a name so creepily. Like a maniac when seeing the next soon-to-be missing person.

“You want to kiss girls.” Dima’s mother said all-knowingly.

The group froze, one couldn’t even hear their breath. They’re doomed. Natasha had said her sentence too loudly and now Dima’s mother knows what they are. Will she think they’re mentally ill? Will Dima lose his home and family? Or is it just Natasha who’s lost face in the mother’s eyes and is now banned from future visits? The girl could feel her heart freeze in horror as she stared at the middle-aged woman like prey at a predator.

“Don’t worry,” the mother continued with a smile, “I used to kiss girls too.”

Dima widened his eyes as Vadim and Natasha gaped with open mouths.

“All the time!” Dima’s mother added excitedly as her shoulders lifted slightly at the fond memory.

No way. She’s gay. She’s gay just like them and now she’s sharing her veteran experiences with-

“All girls used to practice on each other back when I was young. So, when they got together with the boy they wanted they’d know how to kiss him right. Ohhh! I could make my husband see stars! I’ve had so much experience!”

One could almost smell the teenage disappointment in the room. So. Dima’s mother wasn’t gay at all. She was just your typical woman from Soviet Russia where, apparently, kissing a girl is a necessary evil that must be done for the greater good.

“Oh… um… thanks.” Natasha said.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, dear.”

“I know.”

“Good. I’ll leave you alone now.” She almost disappeared fully behind the door but then opened it again and blessed Vadim with her doe-eyed look.

“Vadim! I love your shirt.”

“Louis Vuitton.” Vadim responded smugly.

Another ghostly ‘aahhh’ followed as she finally disappeared behind the closed door. The group sat in silence for a brief moment until they could hear the muffled screams of “Suka blyat!” as the woman shouted for her husband to come and eat his borsch. Natasha and Vadim gave Dima a look that asked why he’s not out of the closet yet. He managed to speak, albeit very quietly.

“I can’t tell her. She’s so gentle. So sweet.”

Natasha and Vadim stared at him silently as there was a further ruckus in the kitchen. Pans clanked as they hit surfaces and an ’I’ll pour this borsch down your trousers’ echoed from the small woman.

“So!” Dima clasped his hands together and smiled, “is everyone ready?”


“What the fuck do you mean it’s cancelled?!” Dima spread his arms as he shouted at the burly police officer.

This was preposterous. The three of them spent over an hour dressing up as flamboyantly as possible, doing their make-up, arranging large rainbow flags and writing signs for this? This is what they’re greeted with, seriously? The event they’ve been expecting for years is now cancelled and nobody bothered to send Dima any kind of warning or an official letter? What an unpleasant surprise.

“You can’t be serious!” Vadim gestured at his shoes, “I’ve put on my best pair of heels for this!”

“I wanted to kiss girls!”

“Well, you faggots aren’t good propaganda.” The officer put his hands behind his back.

“Excuse me!” Vadim gasped, “we’re homosexuals!”

“Yeah,” the police officer shrugged, “that’s what I said. Faggots.”

The three searched for a sign of mockery in his body language or expression but found none. The officer seemed to be completely genuine and, probably in his mind, he also thought he was being very respectful. Long awkward silence loomed over the youths, letting them know it would stay a while. Just then they heard a rhythmical tapping of a cane. An old man walked past the group, looked the trio up and down and shook his head.

“Faggots…” he grumbled and walked on, leaving the group with their awkward silent guest. They started to feel ridiculous with those huge flags and signs on their backs. Not to mention the bright make-up and clothes made them stand out at a moment when they’d rather be unnoticed.

“But why have they cancelled our gay parade?” Natasha asked once she recovered from the shock. “It could be a revolutionary thing.”

“Moscow could’ve made history!” Dima stomped and almost dropped his beloved rainbow flag.

“Oh, uhm…” the officer stammered, “see, you’re not good for children.”

The trio looked confused and Vadim put his hands on his hips, his brows joining forces. He loved children and he wasn’t going to take this insult.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” the officer looked at him as if he was saying something obvious, “it’s bad for child development. If they see faggots and learn that you exist then they’ll become faggots too.”

“So, what’s good for child development?” Natasha cocked an eyebrow.

“Well… girl toys for girls, boy toys for boys. Teaching them what a real family is like. Fairy tales.”

“Fairy tales…” Dima couldn’t hide the irritation in his voice as he dropped his head low.

“Yeah, you know. About Koschei or Baba Yaga.”

“Koschei or Baba Yaga…” He resisted the urge to scream. Apparently, an immortal creep and a crazy cat lady were a-okay to tell stories about but not two people in love.

“Yeah. Well. You kids best be on your way, there’s no parade happening here today or any other day.”

“Thank you for the email.” Dima mumbled sarcastically at him and his friends begrudgingly turned 180 degrees and walked in that direction.

But as they were leaving, the reality of their circumstances dawned on them. Unfortunately, there were no laws that protected them. There was the hate crime card, but who’s going to listen to homosexuals in homophobic Russia? Even if they managed to hold that parade they would be in great danger and every step in high heels would mean risk. There would definitely be people who’d try to attack them or destroy their flags and signs. What then? Would they get justice and safety from the police during that attack? They didn’t know and naturally, that upset them even more. Maybe one day they’d be free to hold Pride parades like people do in other countries and not have to fear for their life. Maybe on that day they wouldn’t be judged and harmed for celebrating their sexuality and being comfortable in their own skin. But for now, this was a daily battle they’d have to face. Good thing they were young and had plenty of fight in them.

“I can’t believe they didn’t even write us an email,” Vadim complained. His heels click-clacking through the grey streets.

“Homophobes, all of them.” Dima supported his friend and fixed a strand of stray hair behind his ear.

“All of Russia is homophobic. I hate Russia!” Natasha said.

Vadim’s heels click-clacked through the angry silence for a while longer until the three exchanged looks. Their sour faces grew cheeky smiles as they all had the same idea. They joined hands and raised them.

“I hate Russia!” The group roared in what they thought was brave defiance, a direct ‘fuck you’ to Putin himself.

“Shut your mouths, faggots!” A bald man and his partner in crime sped past them on a motorbike. But not before splatting a water balloon at the person closest to the road. Vadim squealed in a beautiful soprano as the balloon popped upon impact and urine covered all of his six feet worth of fabulous. The three friends stopped dead in their tracks. Natasha and Dima stared with jaws opened although not as widely as Vadim’s own. He stood still for good five seconds before slowly turning in the direction of the vandals and shouting in the same gorgeous soprano.

“That was Louis Vuitton!”


The door to Dima’s house slowly creaked open as the trio quietly tiptoed inside. Vadim only hoped that the sweet and gentle swearing-behind-your-back mother wouldn’t see what happened to his perfect Louis Vuitton.

“Dima,” he whispered, “I’ll need to use your bathroom. And your washing machine.”

“Of course… sure.” Dima pointed him in the direction of the bathroom. “Towels are in the cupboard.”

They separated and whilst Vadim was busy reclaiming his beauty and style in the bathroom, Dima went to his room to get drunk on 4% beer. Natasha took up the difficult task of comforting him and trying to convince him of the impossibility for a male his size to get drunk on alcohol that weak.

“I just can’t believe they didn’t write us an email!” Dima sniffed and chugged the whole can down.

Natasha blinked, both at his statement and his drinking skill. Or maybe he was able to down it all because of grief alone? One never knew with Dima.

“Really? Vadim got the urine treatment and you’re stuck on that email?”

“Vadim will be fine! But yes, I am still thinking of that email. This shows how far behind our country is. The LGBT community is barely recognized here. Why can’t we go out and let everybody know who we are?”

“Shhh,” she hugged him and stroked his hair, “it’s okay, Dima, you’re a strong independent gay man. Maybe in a few years Russia will think we’re normal. And we’ll be in children’s books like that stupid Koschei and Baba Yaga. I’m pretty sure she was secretly made to be a lesbian, anyway.”

Dima froze. That sounded plausible. An old granny who lived alone with a cat in a hut on chicken legs. That sounded pretty lesbian to him. An idea sparked in his head and he gripped onto Natasha’s arms.

“That’s it! Natasha, we need to hold a Fairy Tale parade!”

Natasha looked confused. Did the weak alcohol somehow succeed in messing with his brain? Fairy Tale parade?

“Dima, are you okay?”

“We’ll make sure we’re good for child development!”

That’s it. Natasha was certain that her friend has officially lost it. He was making no sense at all. She wasn’t sure what to say and only ended up looking at him with her lips parted and her eyes unblinking. That’s when Vadim walked in the room with nothing but a towel on, no longer smelling of piss.

“Hey, Dima, can I-”

“You’re gonna be Koschei!” Dima pointed at him, leaving his poor friend standing cold and confused in the middle of the room.


Heels click-clacked through the same street that Dima, Vadim and Natasha walked on earlier. But this time the trio were in costumes of fairy tale characters. Dima was dressed as Zmey Gorynych using make-up to paint his face scaly dark-grey and a dragon head was sewn onto each shoulder. Large wings were connected to his back and looked like a tug of a string could open them.

Natasha – dressed as Baba Yaga – wore a long grey wig with a red scarf covering her hair. A loose white shirt and a long blue skirt were adorned with traditional Slavic patterns. Despite them being granny clothes, if it wasn’t for the fake long nose that she wore, they’d look rather stylish on Natasha. Of course, she didn’t forget Baba Yaga’s pestle and mortar that she substituted with a pole and a woven basket.

Vadim, being the Koschei, also wore a long grey wig with a crown resting on his head. He even agreed to glue a beard on his chin and his gorgeous heels were hidden under a long black cloak. He carried a toy duck in his arms that – according to fairy tales – had an egg inside which had a needle with Koschei’s immortal soul.

Passers-by turned heads as the trio marched on, admiring their impressive outfits and some pulled out their phones to snap a picture. Even the same old man from earlier, thinking they were rid of their filthy ways, smiled in approval when he saw them this time. Parents stopped with their children, pointing at the three friends, so their little one would get a better look. One such mother knew just how much her little boy loved fairy tales, so she brought his attention to them.

“Look, Sashenka, it’s Koschei.”

Little Sashenka stared at his favourite character in awe and Koschei couldn’t help but wave and give him a friendly wink. Dima looked around and saw that the crowd was large enough by now. Not a great mob full of thousands of people, but just enough strangers to witness their message. This was the right moment for their great reveal and he leaned in to whisper to his friends. Vadim and Natasha nodded in approval as mischievous smiles decorated their faces.

Natasha lifted her pole and pulled a string on one end of it which made the other end shoot out confetti. The crowd clapped, but when she pulled off her skirt to reveal a short one that said “Baba Yaga was a lesbian” the clapping was replaced with gasps. Dima pulled the strings that held his wings together and they opened to show a sign “It’s okay” on one wing and “to be gay” on the other. Each letter was written in coloured marker, arranged to follow the order of the rainbow’s colours. Vadim briskly ripped off his black robe and revealed a sparkly rainbow-coloured one underneath complemented by a pair of five-inched heels. At the sight of that, Sashenka’s eyes widened in delight.

“Woah! I wanna be like Koschei!” He said.

His Slavic mother looked up and gasped in horror at the blasphemy she had the misfortune of witnessing.

“Oh my goodness!” she covered Sashenka’s eyes.

“Those faggots.” The old man grumbled and shook his head in disapproval.

But the ‘faggots’ didn’t care even as the crowd shouted insults, attempting to shame them with their words. Dima, Vadim and Natasha knew who they were and what they stood for. That was more important to them than the opinions of strangers who played no significant role in their lives. They were willing to be martyrs for their fellow gays and lesbians, bisexuals and pansexuals, asexuals, trans and any other queer or questioning men and women in Russia. They knew it wouldn’t be an easy battle to win. But when they heard a couple of approving shouts and claps from the otherwise angry crowd they were filled with determination and will to fight. With that mission in mind, Baba Yaga, Koschei and Zmey Gorynych marched off into the red sunset over Kremlin towers.

Feel free to buy me a blood sandwich you beautiful human you!

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