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Elena was born and raised in a town called Ivanovo, where she was expected to marry and have children with a man from the area. Her family pushed her towards men, not knowing she was secretly communicating with a Canadian woman named Meg.

A Russian publication called Prospekt Mag shared the dramatic, feel-good story of Elena and Meg’s love affair, and their wild escape to Canada ten years ago. Elena contacted the magazine because she recently wrote a memoir in Russian, in English titled Talking to the Moon, with the intention of sharing her story with other young people facing obstacles and discrimination in Russia. Elena’s story happened before Russia instituted “gay propaganda” laws, but she still hid her sexuality from her family and friends to protect herself. It was only online that she felt she could communicate honestly about who she was, and that’s how she met Meg.

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The two communicated for six months before deciding to finally meet in Kiev. Elena told her parents she was going to see an opera with a friend over the weekend, but she packed with the thought she might never come back. After a long saga that involves Elena’s parents coming to take her home, and swiping her passport, she and Meg eventually purchase a sailboat and make their way by sea to Canada.

“We had completed such a huge journey for love but there was nobody to meet us,” she explained. “It was pretty silent. We didn’t actually need anything, we just wanted to sleep, to rest, and to start living our life on land.”

Read the whole story at Prospekt Magazine.