Interview with Mark Kandolsky

The Village Metropolitan Community Church is excited to welcome Mark Kandolsky as our guest speaker on 3rd March. Mark is a non-binary transgender activist from Saint Petersburg, Russia. He has been working as an activist since 2015, as long as he’s been open about his identity. He has experience both in advocacy and community building, though mostly focusing on the latter. His community is disempowered and suffering and any legal advancements will come too late for many people if they don’t get support now.

Mark was raised in an atheistic family, and at the age of 18 decided to join the Roman Catholic Church, where he was baptized a year later. Roman Catholics in Russia are much more liberal than the Russian Orthodox Church, and it seemed like a good choice at the time. Even before he was baptized Mark met his current partner, also transgerner, at the church. Unfortunately, they had to leave the Church several years later. However, Mark still identifies as Catholic.

Mark has met many LGBTQI people who suffered in the Church, and were not accepted there. One of his friends who could not reconcile his faith and sexual orientation committed suicide. It affected Mark so deeply, that after a year of depression he started to work as an activist trying to improve the life of his LGBTQI siblings who also suffered from religious violence. Currently, Mark coordinates a small LGBTQI religious community. They are a diverse group, and among them are people of different religious traditions, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Mark’s activism is a calling and ministry, be it in the religious sphere or not: apart from Nuntiare et Recreare (their group) Mark also works as an activist for the transgender community: leading support groups, providing peer to peer consultations, translating, editing, and publishing materials for the transgender community and allies.

Mark says “My greatest dream is to open a shelter for the LGBTQI community. It is only a dream now since we need much more resources to open it, and we’ve had a lot of legal obstacles. I hope and pray that one day this situation will change and we will be able to provide shelter, food, and education to those who need it most.”