If there’s one thing I feel really passionate about besides music, it’s equality.
I’m the type of person that gets my feathers ruffled when someone makes a “mexican” joke, protested and changed the anti-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation of my University back in the day and donates regularly to equality organisations. We are all children of the universe and global citizens and it sickens me to find out that Russia has just yesterday passed a unanimous law that criminalizes the spread of “gay propaganda” which pretty much will iron fist any gay Russian to stay in the closet.
After the Cold War, Russia has for many years been chipping away at the horrible judgemental stereotypes that the rest of the world has bestowed upon them as a country. It wasn’t until the last few years that Russia has really come into it’s own as a cultural destination, with Moscow and St. Petersburg being meccas for the well-traveled tourist. But all that hard-work in changing Russia’s global perception was dramatically shifted back in time when DUMA passed this preposterous anti-gay law. I myself have been dying to visit Russia for the past few years, but after yesterday, I will not be spending any of my pink pounds there.
Instead of focusing on advancing the world and their own country through political change, many conservative Russians (mind you, the majority) are too worried that Elton John will wear something too flamboyant in his concerts there and will even go as far to sue Madonna for speaking up for gay rights in her concerts in Russia, supporting the Pussy Riot controversy.
Last time I checked, the year was 2013, not 1950. What are these crazy Russians thinking?
Some of the Russian music community doesn’t really agree that these laws should exist and I applaud groups like Kazaky for creating what is essentially a protest music video with “Crazy Law” supporting LGBT rights. There is also Max Barskih who is one of the region’s biggest pop-stars of the moment who put out a song called “Fuck Off” which is essentially an equality anthem hidden under the metaphorical guise of the threat of a zombie apocalypse in a pop culture obsessed with the genre right now.
The issue it seems with the music community there is that not enough musicians are actually speaking out about it either. Take for instance Valeriya, who is known for being the Russian version of Madonna. But when asked by a British publication when trying to launch herself in the UK, if she would enjoy being known as a gay icon like Madonna or Kylie, seemed a bit perplexed with a social stigma of that nature. Then there is Russia’s biggest pop-star, Sergey Lazarev who seems to always be the target for anti-gay crusaders and lawsuits, having to go to far lengths to prove (or fake) his marriage to TV personality Lera Kudryavtseva. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Sergey quite a few times in the UK and you can always tell that he’s super cautious with his responses when doing promotion outside Russia, even though he plays gay venues and rides the proverbial gay/straight fence in his hugely expensive music videos.
I’m really just sick-to-death knowing that Russia is such an anti-gay country now. In fact, being so anti-gay is pretty much being anti-Europe these days and I hope Europe will recognise this and pressure Putin to change his views and support of these crazy and hateful laws. I hope that we as global citizens can come together to do something about it. This issue is not getting very much attention at-the-moment and deserves more coverage. There are a small majority of Russian citizens who of course don’t stand for these dehumanising values, but just look at how they are getting treated as peaceful protesters? It’s sickening. I fear for their lives.
What can you do?
If you’re a musician, ban doing any promotion or shows in Russia until they change or kill this anti-gay law. These gigs may pay well, but know this, you’re playing in a country that doesn’t value it’s LGBT citizens and that you “could” be arrested or detained by even making the smallest gay reference, be it talking openly with your gay friends, kissing your gay friends or even talking to your gay Russian fans.
There doesn’t seem a lot that I can do to change this crazy law right now, but one thing I can do is this. I will not distribute my album project “This Beat Is Poptronik Volume Two” to any Russian territories. This is something in my control and albeit a small contribution, but it is my way of protesting musically.
I do hope that having read this blog, you’ll feel inspired to do something as well. No matter how big or small, only us as global citizens can stand up for our Russian LGBT friends and allies. Where is t.A.T.u when you need them?
Please note that these views are mine only as an individual and do not represent the views of any EQ Music staff member, supporter, reader or artists that EQ Music has worked with.