Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gays in the Former USSR

Russia is a funny place, with funny people. This blog is rather hard for me to write, because I don't seek out "alternative" venues, and I would know as little about them in Russia as I would in the States.
But, I could relay some anecdotal evidence to support my introductory sentence.
During one of my first couple of weeks in Russia, I was sitting in a cafe with my Russian friend, trying to explain contemporary political issues in Russia, and how they varied with contemporary American political issues.
When I mentioned gay marriage as being one of the larger social issues in American politics, she was suprised, and asked, "Are there gays in America?"
I laughed (I thought she was joking), "Yes, there are. Are there none here in Russia?"
She looked seriously perplexed, "No, I don't think so,"
I was astonished, "Your kidding me, right? You don't know a single gay? Not one?"
Her answer was an emphatic, "No, I don't think that there are any gay people in Russia."
Well, despite her knowledge on this issue, I am rather certain that there are gays in Russia. Though they are a good deal more closeted than in the States. I haven't seen any Dupont Circles (a gay section of DC) in any Russian city.
I have heard that there are a few gay establishments in Moscow, but that is all that I nkow about them.
Though, when I held a political discussion with my hozaika (host lady), she didn't seem opposed to the idea of gay marriage.
I think that my host is in the minority of Russians. There was a gay rally in Moscow this past summer that was broken up by the police and rioters. They tried to beat the participants of the rally.
At orientation, students were advised that if they were of such a persuasion, it might not be the best thing to meet your host family and start off about telling them your status. Russia can be rahter hard on "others"/"outsiders".

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