The Evil Empire is back.
Not the one with Jerry Falwell, the original one. Russia is raising its claim as an official enemy of the LGBTQ community. Over the past month, the perennial President of Russia, Vladmir Putin, has become increasingly aggressive in his campaign against the gay community in Russia. His latest act was to sign legislation to outlaw the mention of any “non-traditional” relationships. In addition to that, he has put forward legislation to ban foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children.
Having this tool in power could never result in anything good. He was President from 2000 until 2008. Then, in a move that could only happen in a place like Russia, he stepped aside for four years to become Prime Minister and then came back again as President in 2012. Just reviewing the details of his resume is enough to give me nightmares about George W. Bush stepping aside as President of the United States for four years to run the State Department and then coming back for another four years of warmongering and unintelligible conversations. Yikes!
OK, back to the Russian schmuck. I’m not sure what the driving force is behind this anti-gay fervor but as the Urban Dictionary says, “shit’s about to get real.” Anytime one group of people start to legislate the existence of another group of people, we face a dark reality. The Russia of our grandparents passed similar laws back in 1933. They made it a crime punishable by five years in prison for two consenting men to engage in sex. And when I say prison, I mean a primitive Russian prison, not one of our country club prisons where you may possibly run into Martha Stewart or Robert Downey, Jr. This type of law is aimed at stripping people of their basic human rights and making them disappear.
Along with this new anti-gay legislation, the increase in anti-gay violence is also on the rise in Russia. There has been a draconian police crackdown on Gay Pride celebrations and homophobic murders are on the rise. The violence doesn’t stop there. It also extends to LGBTQ tourists who visit the country. Supporters of LGBTQ rights have been detained and then expelled from the country for attending human rights events and promoting the dreaded doctrine of tolerance. Nikolai Alexeyev is a prominent Russian gay rights activist who theorizes that the gay community in Russia is being used as a scapegoat for the ills of the country. If that’s not enough to remind you of a much scarier time in the recent history of the world, then you need to head back to seventh grade history class.
Putin seems like a man who gets what he wants. I don’t think the public opinion polls are as much of a consideration for him thy way they are for American politicians. I’m pretty sure they don’t have the Russian equivalents of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and I’m not sure what the Marxist version of FOX News would be called. Oh wait, that’s called FOX News. But Putin seems to have no qualms about targeting people who do not speak the words he wants to hear. Just ask Pussy Riot. It’s easy to avoid internal conflict when you can make your detractors disappear.
Plenty of people, most of them outside of Russia, are calling for action and boycotts in the wake of this recent attack on the gay community in Russia. Sex and relationship columnist Dan Savage, the person I want to be when I grow up, has called for a boycott on Russian vodka by gay bars as a show of solidarity. I can appreciate the logic behind that; it’s non-violent and it sends a message. Besides, I find it just as easy to do body shots of Grey Goose off of the abs of a 23-year-old MBA student working his way through college. I see no reason why a boycott should impact the local economies.
A boycott of the Olympics may be another matter. Plenty of bloggers in the gay community are calling for exactly that. There is a decent amount of time for this movement to gain support before the Winter Games are scheduled to take place in the Russian city of Sochin early in 2014. While I like the idea of an international display of support for the LGBTQ community, the downside is that it deprives athletes of an opportunity they have worked for an entire lifetime. Since I’m probably not your first go-to guy when it comes to sports talk, Greg Louganis is also on record as having the same opinion.
I would feel remiss in my established tradition of ridiculing the powerful and the oppressive if I didn’t point out that when I Google images of Putin, I find more outdoorsy, shirtless pics of him than most gay men have of themselves on their iPhones. Obviously, this is not an indictment against his sexuality. I just have to wonder as I would with any other rabid critic of the gay community what insecurity makes him hate us so much.
OUT & ABOUT
Friday, August 2 – The First Friday Happy Hour group will meet at Liberty Tap Room & Grill from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Liberty Tap Room & Grill is at 7651 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. For additional information, visit www.firstfridayhappyhour.org or www.libertytaproom.com.
Friday & Saturday, August 2-3 – Pulse Ultra Club, along with Breonna Tenae and VERSAGE, hosts a weekend cabaret including the Pulsation Divas House Cast both nights . Showtime is midnight. Pulse Ultra club is at 803 Main St in Myrtle Beach.
Sunday, August 11 – Takeover Florence, the Florence area LGBTQ Happy Hour Group, will meet at Victor’s Bistro at Hotel Florence from 5-7 p.m. Hotel Florence is at 126 West Evans St., Florence. For additional information visit www.facebook.com/TakeoverFlorence
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.