Teenage life is not always easy. It is especially hard for the gay youth of Russia. Ever since Putin passed his ‘anti-gay law’ in 2013 the young LGBT community is defenseless against insults and intimidation. Psychologists, teachers and even parents can be fined or imprisoned for supporting them. Through online platform Children 404, these teens can share their stories. Yet the Russian authorities threaten to block the website, and recently the site’s initiator was severely fined.
In 2013, Russia passed a law banning the ‘propaganda of non-traditional relations to minors’, considering homosexuality to be an illness, a sin and an aberration. Gay teenagers have no safe havens left. They cannot rely on family or social workers, as everyone providing them with assistance can be punished.
One of those affected is Elena Klimova: in order to offer her fellow-sufferers an anonymous vent and a virtual hiding place, she created the online platform ‘Children 404’, referring to the error message that pops up in a browser when a website cannot be found. Using anonymous interviews and video diaries the film shows the humiliations and discriminations to which the young gays and lesbians are exposed.