Instagram account @theneweastisqueer is a digital archive of Eastern European LGBTQ+ creatives and activists from the 20th century to the present day.
The account is part of LGBT New East, a volunteer-run online platform founded by London-based human rights and international development specialist Luke Stamps.
“Being a gay man with Polish heritage, I was appalled by the way the LGBTQ+ community is being treated by society and politics throughout the region,” Stamps told The Calvert Journal. “Music, art, and culture are powerful forces in shifting a society towards acceptance and liberalism. @theneweastisqueer is an attempt to bring together these creative communities, to celebrate, to create, and to fight together.”
The platform was created to show that “the New East is, and has always been, queer,” through interviews and profiles of figures from a mix of generations. The artists featured include Lulla La Polaca, a Polish 82-year-old drag queen, and Admina, a non-binary techno artist and DJ who has been storming Romania’s clubbing scene.
Other highlights include Dzachkov, a Bulgarian painter, photographer, and collage artist who rips up fashion editorials to craft decadent and intricate portraits that champion gender-fluidity.
All of the creatives who featured on the account count activism as a crucial part of their practice. Among them is Krystof Stupka, a Czech activist and the founder of Reclaim Pride, a queer platform organising the Pride march in Prague on 7 August.
Check out their dedicated site where you can find in-depth interviews with talent such as David France, the director of documentary Welcome to Chechnya, which gives a harrowing look at the violence committed against the queer community across the North Caucasus.
LGBT New East also has a Twitter account with over 170k followers, and Stamp plans to another online space in autumn: an Uzbek NGO that will provide a safe platform for discussion and activism to the country’s LGBTQ community.
“I want young queer kids to feel inspired by the work that is being created and to continue to collaborate,” says Stamps. “Change happens when ideas, people, and creativity come together.”