We meet a boy, Kirill, wh...

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We meet a boy, Kirill, wh...


Jeff Sharlet








POINT (4192941.386350210 7510950.917130990)

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We meet a boy, Kirill, who says he’s 18 and out. “Absolutely everybody knows,” he tells us over drinks at a little table on the second floor by the dark rooms. He’s built like a giraffe, long spindly legs and an even longer neck, unblinking dark chocolate eyes. “We don’t need gay pride here,” he says. “Why do we need to show our orientation?” He’s heard of the gangs that kidnap gays, the police that arrest gays, the babushkas with their eggs and their stones. “Everybody wants to emigrate, but not me.” He shrugs. “I love Russia. I love Moscow. This is their experience, not mine.” // Kirill says he has a bigger problem: Nikolai, hot and cold. Kirill thought they might be moving toward something, they made out one night on the dance floor, but then Kirill brought a girl with him one night, and Nikolai showed his true colors. “He was trying to seduce my friend!” says Kirill. Gay should be gay, he says, or you don’t know what to believe. // “Poor Kirill,” says Nikolai when he joins us later, speaking in very broken English so Kirill won’t understand. Kirill fools himself, he says. “For example.” Nikolai spreads his arms and then brings them together, laying his hands on the table. “Boys here tell me, ‘I am top.’ Then suddenly”—he means in bed or in the darkroom—“ ‘I don’t have erection. Will you fuck me?’ ” He wags his finger and returns to Russian. “I don’t know why Russians lie.” // Well, he does. “It is the fantasy of the beautiful life. They don’t have it. They think if they pretend, they can come closer.” He grins, his cheeks filling with color, dark as black roses. He says, in English, “I”—he pinches the air, feeling for the word he won’t share with Kirill—“lie. I. Lie.” He pops his eyebrows and spins a finger around the dim little table, at Kirill and Zhenya and me. “We. Lie. Yes?” He leans back, his tendon-and-bone arms unfolding and his fingers spreading out like batwings. He holds us all in his hands. // Kirill says something in Russian. “He asks if he can leave,” translates Zhenya. Nikolai has already waved him away. #nightshift #moscow #lgbt #documentary #reportage #truestories #picturesandwords





Jeff Sharlet, “We meet a boy, Kirill, wh...,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed July 18, 2018, http://instaessayarchive.org/items/show/2646.