Sochi: At least there was talk

March 2, 2014

No bombs at Sochi, as the Putin gantlet held it’s firm grip upon the populace and prevented virtually any exchange between locals and visitors.

The tremendous worldwide focus on human rights abuses in Russia didn’t prevent whippings and beatings and arrests from taking place to leave a tainted perfume of fascist excess over the whole Sochi Winter Olympics.

Protesting environmental activists were jailed under the charge of damaging state property, Cossacks-yes, Cossacks, were sent out as a security force, sort of a mercenary army style militia, as if our Civil War enactors were given real weapons.

These same Cossacks were let loose on the human rights champions Pussy Riotas they garnered more headlines than Pope Frank.

All this leads to the point that is not much discussed in this ongoing worldwide coverage of LGBTQ oriented violence: violence equates high profile. The cost of this terrible behavior is the attention of the world.

At least there is ongoing sociological and political discussion about gay rights.

With the Olympics over, activists like WeHo’s Nir Zilberman worry that after the Sochi games are finished, the focus on Russia will dissipate and the ever so brief attention span of humankind will move on to other matters, like the Bieber Incident of the Day and cuddly kittens on YouTube.

Mr. Zilberman has reminded us with his chilling displays of concentration camp uniforms in his stores here in West Hollywood that this fascistic behavior is exactly how Hitler rose to power and his Final Solution engaged.

Protest is essential: waving a small rainbow flag in Sochi might indeed cause a visiting Italian transgendered activist and politician to be detained causing ripples throughout the world.

This, my dears, is how we raise awareness.

The hate groups in Russia pretending to worry about pedophiles have dropped all pretense of catching a predator and are now just luring in gay men off the internet to beat and abuse, film their exploits and become heroic to their intellectually limited minions as they go on “Safari” to destroy lives, as shown powerfully in the documentary Hunted by journalist Liz Mackean

With small branches in thirty cities, each with a dozen or so members and including slightly larger groups in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the hate groups have little influence outside sensationalist media coverage, and could be a passing trend that will fade with disinterest over time, like the “catch a predator” YouTube videos that are already losing view numbers in the Russian Federation.

The door has been opened to freedom for the LGBTQ community in Russia, and there is in fact a very vibrant gay culture emerging in the chaos, rising from the whips and blood to express a sense of freedom seen in other parts of the Western world for decades: now, it’s Russia’s turn.

Pussy Riot indeed opened that door wide, churning the civil rights movement along anti-government sentiment and confronting both Putin and the resurgent Russian Orthodox church.

Now, we have lesbians holding hands at the Sochi opening ceremony; figure skating champ and Sochi announcer Johnny Weir putting on an Elton-worthy fashion barrage while Elton John performs in Moscow and professes his love for Russia while pleading for tolerance; upcoming U.S. gay pride tours from Russian queer activist rock band DIK; a vibrant gay print magazine presence and U.S. film directors visiting St. Petersburg’s queer film community.

It’s possible the bookstores can fly a rainbow flag out front in the not too distant future; the gay bars won’t need to worry about gunfire and harassment, and the shows at the Sochi Mayak drag bar can continue unscathed.

Roy Rogers Oldenkamp writes about film and culture.

At this juncture, though, the world’s compassion and protestation seems stronger than ever, especially in the wake of the Ugandan anti-gay law, the recent Nigerian anti-gay legislation and a host of hostile nations that have or may soon criminalize homosexuality.

But then, it’s hard for us to throw a lavender stone when we have an Arizona hoping to institute similar discrimination on our soil.

Heal Thyself America; we have our own sociological and political discussion about gay rights to engage in, but don’t let up on Russia, either.

All discrimination is an attempt to demonstrate ones “superiority over” the discriminated against.

Putin and Russian anti-gay legislators are merely acting as countless other regimes have in the past – they demonize the least powerful in order to centralize their own power and deflect the citizen’s resentments of government to, say, Jews or Blacks or Chinese.

Except that was pre-Internet, pre-cell phones, pre-everyman is a journalist days. Let’s see what happens next.