Putin’s Dreams of Empire Are Pretty Gay

Randy Potts

November 12th, 2013

With all the recent noise coming out of Russia these days on gay rights (or the lack thereof) it’s easy to lose sight of why Putin has gone along with the anti-gay legislation when it has only caused problems for him in the West.  If Sochi is all about projecting a vision of Russia as a nation worthy of investment and a leader in world affairs, why risk letting the “gay problem” overwhelm the message?

This Buzzfeed piece by J. Lester Feder is a good introduction, although the title is misleading.  What Feder documents is how existing anti-gay sentiment is being used by pro-Russian forces within former Soviet bloc countries to tie those countries closer to Russia and, more importantly, steer them away from the EU and into Putin’s “Customs Union” instead — not a very prosaic name, that — sounds a bit like the Trade Federation in Star Wars.  A more straightforward name like “Russian Union” might remind everyone of that Soviet one they had 20 years ago.

What many Western gay rights activists too often miss is that anti-gay sentiment is not being created or fomented by Putin or the anti-western, pro-Russian crowd.  Anti-gay sentiment already exists, at about the same levels it existed here in the US 50 or 60 years ago.  The comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis are also inept — unlike Hitler whose party platform identified Jews as the problem from the get go, anti-gay legislation in Russia has been grass roots and Putin merely stood by while it spread from oblast to oblast in the early 2000s. It was only this past June that a federal law was finally passed, only 9 months after the New York Times was reporting massive anti-Putin marches in Moscow – that is to say, these anti-Putin protests created a little spark in Putin’s eye and, 9 months later, a federal anti-gay law was born.

Fast forward to the present — Putin’s imperial designs on his neighbors suddenly tie in very, very well with federal anti-gay legislation.  To its neighbors, Russia is suddenly a bastion of morality and also the seat of the glorious Winter Olympics, a brave, proud country that can save Ukrainians and other slavic nations from the pedophile values of the West.  Or, as the group Ukrainian Choice, a local grass roots anti-Western group, put it — “Association with EU means same-sex marriage” (via the same Buzzfeed article linked above.)

Putin wants to draw his neighbors into as close a replica as possible of the former Soviet Union or, if he had his choice, one country called Russia that stretches from Riga in the north to Odessa in the south.  The fear in slavic countries of the imposition of “Western” values, specifically gay marriage, is already very strong, so suddenly what seems like problematic social legislation to the West seems like the cause of the moral and the just to many in these former Soviet blocs.

Sochi is going to be a balancing act for Putin but one that ultimately plays into his imperial wet dreams — his neighbors will be watching as every bit of Western noise against the new anti-gay law is answered with a smile and a pledge that Russia does not violate human rights.  Many of Russia’s neighbors will agree — to too many, “gay” is not an inherent human condition but rather the actions of sick perverted individuals hoping to prey on their children.  Father Putin is not about to let that happen.

Gene in L.A.

November 12th, 2013

I’m sorry, I fail to see in this how Putin’s plan is “pretty gay.” Perhaps you could explain that a bit more directly? The headline sounds suspiciously like the youthful attitude so many of us are trying to discourage, that “gay” is another synonym for “lame.”

RexT

November 12th, 2013

Refreshing to see information which speaks to the wide screen picture in Russia & neighboring former Soviet countries. There is, of course, more to this ‘alignment’ as it moves forward. Another Core piece is the Eastern Orthodox Church (groups).

As we all well know, Church & State are quite well versed in gaining support using the ‘Homosexuals’ as the common destroyer of all that is good. Clearly, we still have both hard at it here in the USA (and, happily working with their friends in Russia etc).

RussTX

November 12th, 2013

Good points, Randy. I didn’t think about the anti-gay stuff being part of a larger plan until you pointed this out.

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2013

Gene,

I think Randy means that the dreams of influence rely largely on how his anti-gay neighbors perceive him contraposing himself against the west and using anti-gay positioning to do so.

In other words, he’ll be focusing on ‘gay’ in order to achieve something totally unrelated to sexual orientation.

Randy Potts

November 12th, 2013

Gene, I can see how you took it that way and it wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but no, I wasn’t meaning “lame” but instead was insinuating that Putin’s plan involves gay people or at least intimidation of gay people. It’s not a lame plan at all; in fact, it’s pretty clever. In that sense, “gay” would be a compliment . . .

Robby

November 12th, 2013

I find contemporary Russia both fascinating and confusing. But what is crystal clear to me is what’s happening there really has nothing at all to do with gays and everything to do with the need for a scapegoat and bogeyman. “Gay” is a huge threat to the moral legitimacy of contemporary religion; Once society no longer supports the religious delusion that “God hates fags” the whole religious moral house of cards collapses. And as Russia’s economy stagnates and deteriorates because of weakening oil demand, Putin is increasingly desperate for a lightening rod at which to direct popular discontent and anger. Gays are once again the “perfect scapegoat” but sooner or later Church and State will get the memo that gays will no longer play the victim.

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