Russian tennis star hits back at LGBTQ+ remark after coming out as gay

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Russia’s Daria Kasatkina has hit back at claims that she was influenced by LGBTQ+ “propaganda” weeks after coming out as gay. The world No 9 publicly addressed her sexuality in a YouTube video at the end of July and has since been open about her relationship with former Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.

Kasatkina recently came out as gay in a YouTube video with Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko in which she confirmed that she is in a relationship with a woman and opened up on the difficulties of being gay in Russia, as one of the country’s few openly gay female athletes. The 25-year-old has since received criticism from those in her home country, including politicians who claimed she was trying to be “trendy” or change her nationality.

But Kasatkina received a mass of support from those in the tennis community and beyond who praised her bravery for coming out and addressing the hardships of what it was like to be gay in her home country, admitting it “surprised” her before being forced to respond to those who believe she was influenced by Western LGBTQ+ propaganda.

“I honestly prepared for the worst. I thought it would be dark, knowing our mentality,” the top-ranked female Russian tennis player told Ksenia Sobchak. “But in the end, I was surprised how everything turned out. How cool. Not everything is as bad as I thought.”

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And she was quick to silence those who thought her sexuality had been influenced by LGBTQ+ propaganda, explaining that nothing of the sort was around in Russia even if it was possible to be swayed. “I grew up with no gay boys or lesbian girls around me. Nothing affected me,” she continued.

“The maximum that happened was the Tatu group (Russian music group). I don’t think orientation can be promoted at all. It’s either this or that. Nothing influenced me, but I still like girls in the end.” And the six-time title winner admitted that she felt the opposite living in Russia, struggling to accept herself as she tried to hide her sexuality.

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Kasatkina explained: “It took me a long time to accept myself because society is pressing. Even if you begin to understand something, you think that it is something wrong. You begin to suppress it yourself, through force to meet with those whom you do not want to meet. It doesn’t make you feel any better, just disgusting.

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“And you start hiding, leading a double life. And at some point, you already cease to understand who you are. Not so long ago, I came to the conclusion that I do not care at all.” The 25-year-old also addressed claims that she came out as gay to improve her chances to changing nationality to another country, something Russian State Duma deputy Biysultan Khamzaev accused her of.

Laughing off his claims, Kasatking joked: “So let’s write it down. Now I am writing to the immigration service of some country: ‘Guys, I’m for girls, so give me a passport.’ It’s a shame, of course, when deputies make such comments about their citizens, who have done nothing wrong, they just admitted who they are. If this is enough to block a person from entering the country, it is sad.” 

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