For a decade, Orthodox priest Artyom Vechelkovsky taught at a religious seminary in the city of Samara. He says that his colleagues knew that he was gay, but accepted him and valued his work. But in the current climate of rising antigay sentiment in Russia, church officials suddenly decided to dismiss him, according to a report on Radio Free Europe
Some call him by the name of Father Anthon. the local media call him ‘the priest who came out of the closet.
‘First of all I am no longer a priest, and I am not coming out. I came out in the seminary 20 years ago, I taught in the seminary for 10 years and everyone knew I was gay’ he says on Radio Free Europe. He was a popular seminary teacher and even assisted the Bishop, but finally his openness about his sexuality prompted the Church to dismiss him. He days that there were other gay priests, but in general his peers tended to turn a blind eye to orientation as long as they were quiet and didn’t get the bishops nosing around.
At home, Artyom faces stiff opposition from his mother, who is a staunch orthodox Christian and a Putin fan, and also homophobic. What complicates matters for her is that her other son, Artyom’s twin brother is also a priest, and she fears that his career will be affected by Artyom’s non-straight orientation.
It will be difficult for him to find a teaching job, now that the church has closed his doors for him.