A gay Russian violinist comes out on social media

A gay Russian violinist comes out on social media


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2017

Artem Kolesov, first violinist of the Chicago-based Yas Quartet, has been outraged by reports of gay oppression in Chechnya. So he decided to publish a video testament on being young, Russian and gay.

Artem, 23, has addressed his statement in Russian (with English subtitles) to his homeland, aware that in doing so he could face penalties if ever he returns.

This brave, heartfelt, sometimes tearful confession is compelling viewing. It is as much about being Russian in the 21st century as it is about being gay.



  • Tom Gossard says:

    Deeply touching and inspiring!

  • anmarie says:

    What a brave, beautiful soul.

  • Nick says:

    What an extraordinary tale told so movingly and beautifully! And what courage this young man has shown in his short life. I gladly stand for him and shout “Bravo!”

  • John Borstlap says:

    Very Russian, very touching, very courageous. Let’s hope it will help, somehow, somewhere, in that dark nation.

    Amazing when you think about it, that such taboo exists for some 2000 years (begun with noble Christianity, the religion of love) and that before that ominous conceptualization, there was not even a word for homosexuality, as there was never a special word for someone’s personal taste in something.

    • Az Opera Fan says:

      The Torah explicitly forbids men lying with men, and the Torah has been around a lot longer than Christianity. Tolerance and acceptance of people’s differences are slowly changing, thank God! Too late for Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde, Tchaikovsky, and other great men. Now if only the Muslim world, Russia and China would learn to live and let live.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The Jews always had their own, original ideas.

        And as far as the Russians, Muslems and Chinese are concerned, that’s only a couple of million people. The wagon of progress is a heavy one to draw.

      • Fan says:

        What makes you think homosexuals are persecuted in China? It has never been formally criminalized. Since 2000 it has been dropped from the official list of mental illnesses. It’s true there are not a lot of parades, but legalizing gay marriage has been openly proposed on the national level.

  • Marg says:

    He is very courageous. I wish him the very best. His message will help many more than he will ever know.

  • Bob says:

    You are such a brave, good peson. Bless you and hopes for a happy life! ❤️

  • Jim in NH says:

    Courageous and inspiring. What an amazing man you are in the true sense of the word. You should be so proud of this video, Artem. Good bless you.

  • Wolfried says:

    My world is proud of Artem, wishing his family will love him and become a part of my world where everybody may be the person he wants to be….
    One thing I am certain of, Artem gives life to a lot of boys and girls by this video and we all are grateful for that!

  • François says:

    Очень трогательно. Спасибо тебе, Артём! Прекрасной жизни тебе! Прекрасной музыки и любви. Будь счастливым и делай других счастливыми.

  • François says:

    Очень трогательно. Спасибо тебе, Артём! Прекрасной жизни тебе! Прекрасной музыки и любви. Будь счастливым и делай других счастливыми.

    Very dramatic. Thank you, Artem! Wonderful life to you! Beautiful music and love. Be happy and make others happy.

  • Scott McBride Smith says:

    I admire his courage and honesty very much. He’s an inspiration.

  • Patrick in Virginia USA says:

    Thank you Norman for sharing this. Even for someone who has been out for years, his message comes as balm. What a brave and decent man. It gives me hope that Russians may some day come to respect all of their other countrymen.

  • Debra Kadabra says:

    I feel I am being persecuted because I self-identify as a cat. My psychologist told me I can grow out of it, but I doubt it, think I will be a cat all my life. Please give me sympathy, and I wish to claim benefits as a special minority.

    • John says:

      Oh. Shut. Up.

    • John Borstlap says:

      But cats are NOT a minority. Gay cats perhaps? But then, they don’t need special benefits, since humans are quite tolerant about their pets’ personal tastes. But cats who can read and type, are definitely a minority, and should be eligible for special benefits, on the condition that they follow regular educational curriculae, take a job and pay taxes.

  • Paul MacAlindin says:

    Good for him! It’s terrible that anyone, never mind someone as talented as he is, is forced to absorb so much of other people’s s**t and be brought to the point of self destruction. I guess his video is one big step for him on a long healing journey back to a full life. He’s done it with authenticity, dignity and pride, already light years away from where he found himself. Ultimately, the experience of being different, outside, vulnerable and hated will be grist to the mill and only make his art and life stronger. Great to see someone so self-aware and open!

  • Slawomir Dobrzanski says:

    What a moving testimony. Good luck to you, Artem!