Maria Sam Katseva on performance at the Baltic Pride concert: “I hope to Recharge with the Spirit of Unity”

Maria Sam Katseva, a singer from Ukraine, will perform at the Baltic Pride 2016 concert in Vilnius on June 18th, 2016. The artists performing at the Baltic Pride concert will unite in sending a powerful message of tolerance, respect and support for the local LGBT* community. Today we speak with Maria Sam Katseva about the importance of attending Prides at risk and the power of music in advocating for human rights.

Have you ever attended Pride festivals in Europe? What does participation in the Baltic Pride 2016 mean to you?

Firstly I performed on the EuroPride in Riga last year. I was so inspired by the atmosphere of solidarity, self-righteous, unity, freedom and courage of people, who took part in the Pride Rally. I was proud and so happy to be implicated to this action. Everybody was so bright, friendly, free and kind. It seemed that I got to the Ideal World. Participation in similar events, including the Baltic Pride, is a great opportunity for me to sing for my favorite public, to support all these people in their fight for rights and in their own pride, to tell them, that we are all together.

The Baltic Pride 2016 festival will be used as a platform for challenging the discriminatory application of the “anti-gay propaganda” law and initiating the broader public discussion on legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Lithuania. What is your view on the LGBT* situation in Lithuania? Are there any similar struggles the LGBT* community face in your country?

As a cosmopolite and citizen of three countries – Russia, Israel and Ukraine – I can compare. I may say that the most positive situation with LGBTIQ-rights is now in Israel, of course. Israel has anti-discrimination laws and protection from hate-crimes. The worst situation is in Russia. They absolutely forgot about human rights. The way of life in Russia looks like the Middle Ages. That’s why I moved to Ukraine. Here I see more freedom, more democracy and people who can fight for their rights and get some positive results. I can’t estimate now the situation in Lithuania, because I’ve never been there. I hope it will be clear for me after my participation in the Baltic Pride 2016.

IMG_0070How did you got involved in the LGBT* activism? Do you find it important to attend Pride events?

I’ve got involved to LGBT activism about two years ago. My girlfriend works in an NGO “Insight” in Ukraine. She told me about discrimination and human rights. I’ve been watching what she was doing and still is doing while trying to change society, to explain people simple truths about human rights. I admire her faith, perseverance and loyalty to her goals. I tried to help her in all ways that I can. Since I am a singer it is mostly musical events. For example, I participated in Equality Festival in Lviv in March, 2016. I was going to give a concert, but our Festival was attacked by Ultras. This story has got a resonance all over Ukraine and in Europe. Also I do some translations of books, articles, meetings and so on. It’s important to attend Pride Events in order to recharge with the spirit of unity, to see that we are not alone, that there are many of us all over the world.

What message would you like to send to the LGBT* community in Lithuania?

I have the same message to all the LGBTIQ community members all over the world. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed. You have rights, so come and take it. Be free and be proud. You are not alone.”

How do you feel about performing at the same stage with Dana International, LaDiva Live, DJ Leomeo? Do you like their music?

Wow! I do love Dana International since her performance at the Eurovision in 1998! I was 14 that year and I sang her song “Diva” all the time. It’s always in my mind.

LaDiva Live is a very bright and talented artist. I saw many videos with her performances of cover songs. It’s a double pleasure to work at the same stage with them, because in Russia I shared stage with drag artists. Living in Ukraine now, I always remember my drag colleagues and friends in Russia and miss them very much. And I’m absolutely happy about DJ Leomeo, because I’m crazy about electronic sets and I’m going to blow up the dance floor during his performance!

What are your plans for the future?

In Ukraine I develop my blues-rock live project, also I’m an author and composer of songs in Russian. I also plan to develop as an individual singer and it is my dream. It is a great honor to be recognized and loved among LGBTIQ-community, because I feel these people close to me, and I love them and support them.