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Activism Divides Russian Gay Community

Jim Burroway

August 14th, 2007

Gay rights demonstrator arrested in MoscowA recent opinion poll in Russia said that only 9% disagreed with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s ban of the gay pride march last year. With rising nationalism in Russia, the nascent gay rights movement is often branded as a dangerous foreign influence. Against that backdrop, the Washington Post reported last weekend on the divide in the Russian gay community, between those who believe the only way to combat rising homophobia is through direct confrontation, and those who would rather lay low hoping for things to improve as the older generation dies off. Elena Gusyatinskaya keeps a vast gay-themed archive in her tiny apartment, including storage space for personal diaries that people are afraid to keep in their own homes. She comments:

“On the one hand, it’s good that people are talking about it, that it isn’t covered up that this fact exists,” said Gusyatinskaya, drawing on conversations with the hundreds of gay people who have visited her archive in the past decade. “Yet how this is talked about, particularly on television, doesn’t help to destroy homophobia, but rather unleashes it.”

Hat tip: Ruslan Porshnev

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