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Sochi 2014, the Gay Prequel

Randy Potts

February 7th, 2014

The Winter Olympics in Sochi officially start today and a lot of digital ink has been spilled in the last six months about Russia’s “gay propaganda” law. Here is a brief recap of some of the highlights:

Box Turtle Bulletin’s coverage, in one convenient link.

Jeff Sharlet of Rolling Stone, GQ, et al, went to Russia and wrote the definitive guide on how bad it really is on the ground for LGBT people — marauding klan-like groups, gay people with children living in fear, jobs being lost, and, most interesting to me, some links between anti-gay groups in the US and the violence in Russia, all here: Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia

All the way back in August, the NYT wrote this report on the violence already occurring within two months of the passage of the “gay propaganda” law: Gays in Russia Find No Haven, Despite Support From the West

Scott Long’s dissection of Truths behind the gay torture images from Russia is a good balance to some of the rumors and unsubstantiated stories that have been and will continue to pour out of Russia.

The NYT in its update on Billie Jean King also links to reports on how much the Obama administration has gone out of its way to put LGBT people front and center in Sochi:Billie Jean King Won’t Join U.S. Olympic Delegation – neither Obama or Biden will be in attendance.

Remember the Stoli boycott? The Chicago Phoenix does a recap here including the news that the bar Sidetrack is ending its boycott but will donating a portion of sales to a Russian pro-LGBT fund.

Julia Ioffe, Russian American journalist for The New Republic, writes here of all the schadenfreude over the many problems in Sochi — already, the Twitter account @SochiProblems has more followers than the official Sochi Winter Olympics account. In case you wanted to know, “schadenfreude” in Russian is “злорадство/ zloradstvo” and I don’t think any of us feel very guilty about it.

On that subject, here are some people to follow on Twitter for Sochi/LGBT updates:
Leonid Ragozin

Tweets in Russian (& some English):
Masha Gessen, lesbian freelance writer for the NYT et al.
Nikolai Alekseyev who has, it must be said, doggedly put on Pride protests for over 5 years now in Moscow and, apparently, sued the Russian state multiple times over its mistreatment of LGBT people. He’s also a Russian nationalist with a history of anti-semitism.

Last but not least, Box Turtle also has a new Twitter account, follow here.

*Update: already, 4 LGBT activists in St. Petersburg, including a pregant woman, have been arrested.  #CheerstoSochi . . .



Gene in L.A.
February 7th, 2014 | LINK

So this Russian gay rights activist is also a “nationalist with a history of anti-semitism.” It seems very few of us can see past our own prejudices. How sad.

Randy Potts
February 7th, 2014 | LINK

@Gene, it’s very sad because Nikolai really has fought in the streets for us, but he also seems fairly unstable and, of late, his love of country has muted even his critique of Putin. At some level it’s understandable – who can both love their country and also denounce it on the world stage? Nikolai is no MLK, Jr. but nobody of that caliber was at Stonewall either.

February 7th, 2014 | LINK

It’s difficult to call Nikolai’s anti-semitism a “prejudice” because he has likely never had a contrary view to consider.

Sort of like the Russian people themselves and their present anti-gay fervor.

The problems are not “prejudice,” they are sheer enforced ignorance. And they have to be approached as such.

February 7th, 2014 | LINK

Ha! Your Twitter background page looks like my library! Great minds….


February 7th, 2014 | LINK

The GQ report is eye-opening, and there’s a bombshell revelation about halfway through it. It’s long, but well worth the read.

February 7th, 2014 | LINK

Good article on yahoo:–huh–tell-that-to-the-people-in-sochi-s-club-mayak-001109107.html

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