It’s a warm afternoon in St. Petersburg, a crowd of shoppers fills the streets of Nevskiy Prospekt, the city’s main shopping street. None of the passersby seem to have ever heard of a ‘liberal’ church in the neighbourhood. I’m about to meet Russia’s openly gay priest. After ten minutes of waiting outside the building, Aleksandr arrives. He frets down the street, a Winston in his mouth and a leather briefcase in his hand, wearing a black bowler hat and a long black coat decorated with a mix of religious and activist symbols. The Independent Catholic Church in St. Petersburg is unique in its kind for being open to different sexual orientations and gender identities—Aleksandr’s work is groundbreaking in a country known for its rife transphobia and homophobia.