Meet Erika and Pasha: two lesbian artists very much in love

Pasha (left) and Erika

Erika Vendett and Pasha Setrova are two very talented New York-based artists. They’re also each other’s wives. GSN spoke to them about their relationship and how their love inspires their art.

Meet Erika & Pasha

Erika describes herself as a ‘a corporate Creative Director by day and tattoo artist by nights and weekends.’ She specializes in ‘single-needle portraiture and high detail black work.’ Thanks to Instagram, she has become known for her tiny pet portraits.

‘As a tattoo artist, if you were to take a look at my body of work now you’d probably call me “the tiny pet portrait lady.” I’m not sure when that happened, because it’s not like I turn down other concepts. But I love fur babies and pet people are generally cool people.’

One of Erika's tiny pet portraits

One of Erika’s tiny pet portraits

Pasha, a sculptor, started her business, PashaPasha New York, two years ago. She makes mixed-media sculptures, focusing on fashion-oriented ball joint dolls. According to Erika, since starting her business, Pasha has become ‘like the BMW of the doll world.’

Some of Pasha's dolls

Some of Pasha’s dolls

How they met

Erika, who is in her late 20s, is originally from New Jersey. Pasha, who is in her 30s, is from Magnitogorsk, Russia but has lived in New York for seven years. The couple met at a now-closed lesbian bar in New York called the Dalloway.

‘I had gone to the bar dragging my straight guy friend there pretty much just to terrorize him,’ Erika recalls. ‘I was not expecting to meet anyone.’

‘My friend was going through a break up with her girlfriend and so I decided to take her to the Dalloway and show her that there were still plenty of fishes in the sea,’ Pasha says.

‘At some point, this woman was trying to hit on my friend. So in order to keep me busy, this woman asked me, “Why are you sitting here by yourself? What kind of girl do you like?” I said “feminine girls” and then she disappeared into the bar.’

Pasha Setrova

Pasha Setrova | Photo: provided

‘So I was sitting there, chatting with my friend when this woman walked right up to me,’ Erika explains. ‘She was very direct.’

The following exchange ensued:

She said: ‘Hey.’
So I said: ‘….uh..Hi.’
‘My name’s ___.’
‘My name’s Erika.’
‘Erika, do you like Russians?’
‘I….don’t not like Russians?’
‘Come with me.’ And then she walked away.

Erika Vendett

Erika Vendett | Photo: provided

‘It happened so quick I didn’t know what to do,’ Erika remembers. ‘So I followed her, basically leaving my poor guy friend to talk with some random girl who had joined our table at some point. Anyways, I followed the woman, she led me to Pasha, and long story short, we’re married now.’

Their marriage 

‘For the wedding, I was super happy,’ Pasha says. ‘All our family was there. It felt so nice that they were there supporting us. Also because it’s legal now, I actually feel like a normal piece of society. Yes I am married. I just happen to be a woman married to a woman.’

Inspiring creativity

As two married artists, the couple inspires and encourages one another in their creative endeavors.

‘Pasha has definitely pushed me to seek my every potential source of creative success,’ Erika says. ‘She met me when I was but a young design underling, illustrating for a failing Facebook game. But she always told me how much she believed in me, even then. From there, she’s had my back through every high and every low, until my eventual rise in the corporate design world, where I became a Creative Director in one of America’s largest privately held media and business information conglomerates.’

‘Even then, once I expressed interest in tattooing, she was my number one supporter. Regardless of the comfort and stability of a well-paying 9-5 job, her endless confidence in me gives me the assurance to eventually make tattooing my full-time.’

‘I can say the same,’ Pasha states. ‘When I first came from Russia, where I was a successful artist, I came here and nobody knew me.’

‘Erika believed in my pieces and she said I could easily find a gallery, even though I had tried before with no success. So Erika was taking me to art fairs and galleries where I eventually met my mother gallery, Arteria Art Gallery. From there, when I started making PashaPasha New York, we were investing our own money in it and it also took belief. And now, when PashaPasha is successful, Erika is part of it 50/50 as a co-manager. We take all major decisions together and she’s responsible for business and sales. I could not see the PashaPasha brand without her.’

Being a queer woman in Russia

While living in New York City, Erika and Pasha haven’t faced any challenges as queer female artists. In Russia, on the other hand, there’s a lot that can hold back a queer female artist.

‘In Russia, it’s a man’s world. Females are nobody,’ Pasha explains. ‘People think that you should just be a trophy wife. And they will use it as reasoning to not hire you, not promote you, or underpay you – because it’s your dad’s, boyfriend’s, or husband’s responsibility to take care of you. And so when I reached a certain amount of fame in Russia, I knew there was no other peak for me. That was one of the moments where I knew I had to move to America where I could be an independent artist without the need for a man to succeed.’

‘Like Pasha said, there are plenty of dumb brick-headed people out there who think women can’t do as good as a job as men,’ Erika adds. ‘Luckily I’ve been able to surround myself with none of those people and a crazy amount of bad-ass successful, strong, supportive, women (& men) in my day to day.’

Anything else?

‘Buy a doll,’ the couple says. ‘Get a tattoo.’

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Author: Rafaella Gunz

The post Meet Erika and Pasha: two lesbian artists very much in love appeared first on Gay Star News.

Town clerk forced to apologize for denying gay couple marriage license

Sherrie Eriksen reading her apology

A New York town clerk has given a public apology to a gay couple she refused a marriage license to last year.

Gay couple Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd went to the town clerk on 30 July in Root, New York — a small town outside of Albany — to get their marriage license.

But town clerk Sherrie Eriksen denied their request.

New York couple Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd

Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd | Photo: Facebook/Dylan Toften

She initially claimed the refusal to offer them a marriage license was because they did not make an appointment beforehand. But she also has deeply held religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

After Eriksen turned away the gay couple, they took to social media to share their story. Toften also tagged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo into the social media post.

Cuomo responded: ‘Marriage equality is our law in NY. The denial of a license to a same-sex couple is an unconscionable act of discrimination.’

He also reportedly opened an investigation into what happened.

The apology

The town settled a lawsuit brought by the men for $25,000 and a public apology from Eriksen.

Now, eight months after denying the gay couple their marriage license, Sherrie Eriksen has officially made her public apology.

She said: ‘In my capacity as town clerk, it is my responsibility to provide marriage licenses to all couples, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. So long as they meet all applicable New York state requirements.

‘As such, my office and I will personally issue marriage licenses to any couple without exception, who is legally entitled to be issued one.

‘On 30 July of last year, there was an unfortunate incident involving Mr Thomas Hurd and Mr Dylan Toften, who came to my office seeking a marriage license.

‘I am sorry for any harm or inconvenience my actions caused the couple,’ she said.

Toften and Hurd ended up getting a marriage license in a different New York town. They are now married.

‘No one should have to experience discrimination because of who they love’

At the time, HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy reiterated Cuomo’s sentiments to Gay Star News. He called it discrimination ‘plain and simple’.

‘No one should have to experience discrimination because of who they love,’ he said. ‘It’s also against the law in New York State, and we appreciate that Governor Cuomo is taking action, leading an investigation into what happened, and standing up for the equal rights and dignity of LGBTQ people.’

Melanie Trimble, director of Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also commented on the situation.

‘Government officials who have sworn an oath to uphold the law cannot just pick and choose who they will serve and who they won’t.

‘Nobody should be denied access to public services simply because of who they are or who they love,’ she said.

See also

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Author: James Besanvalle

The post Town clerk forced to apologize for denying gay couple marriage license appeared first on Gay Star News.

San Jose city council votes to make their airport Chick-fil-A the ‘gayest’ in America

Chick-fil-A storeThey will surround the franchise with rainbow and trans flags and voted to institute a rule that restaurants that aren’t open on Sundays can’t be in the airport. That means they won’t renew the chain’s contract when it comes up again.

Author: Alex Bollinger

The post San Jose city council votes to make their airport Chick-fil-A the ‘gayest’ in America appeared first on LGBTQ Nation.