I’m From Rostov, Russia.

by Ivan Kolikova

I’m From Rostov, Russia.

I came to the U.S. 6 years ago. I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and when I was 3 years old I move to Rostov, Russia and I was put in foster care because my biological mother was a drug addict. She died 10 years ago from cocaine and heroin overdose. I never met my biological father. I lived in foster care for 8 years and I was adopted when I was 11 years old. Foster care in Russia is very different from U.S. We do not have things that children in America have today. I am very thankful for being adopted because many children do not get adopted and do not live happy lives.

I lived in Rostov for 17 years and my father wanted to move to America because Rostov became a not good area. We moved to America with only 200 dollars and we learned most immigrants come to America with very little money.

I never talked about homosexuality in Russia. Until 1993 if you were gay in Russia then you would go to jail for 8 years. I now live in Miami and I am very comfortable with who I am as a person and I do not have to try to hide being gay with fear of being beat down or killed. Russia is a very, very beautiful country with beautiful people, but we live a very traditional life and have a very strong connection with Russian Orthodox church and believe that being gay is one of worst things a person can do.

Many gay and lesbian people use alcohol and drugs to not feel as bad for themselves about their homosexuality. To be honest, I know because it happened with me, but I have been sober from drugs for almost 3 years now.

I really hope that some day my country will be open to all people of all races, sexual orientation, and religion. I like to think that my story may help even one person. Not only for someone who is in Russia but all over the world to share knowledge that they are not alone. It is difficult but it makes you a very, very strong person in the end and you will be a very glad person that you learned from the experience.

I do not write my story for sympathy. Sympathy is the last thing I look for now. I want to write my story to help people and even make people appreciate the things they have that they may not be very thankful for. I do find myself not being thankful sometimes for what I have and I must remember where I come from to make me a more humble person.

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