39°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Russia’s Not Really Putin Up With This, Are They?

It’s no secret.
The Russians are trying to silence their LGBTQ communities by implementing a 2013 law passed by the legislature that states the ban of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.”
This suspiciously ambiguous law led to bans on gay pride parades, fines or jail time for anyone who could be suspected of being gay, and even death threats and brutal attacks on the LGBTQ community.
Russian drag artist Yulianna Prosvirnina held an event in Moscow in mid-September of this year for the LGBTQ community in the area. After a group of hooded radicals crashed the party, four individuals were hospitalized after the vandalization and destruction of the venue. They also beat innocent party-goers.
The law, which is incredibly vague in nature and impractical in every way (basis of arrest due to “suspicion of homosexual behavior”), has caused, quite a stir with Russian activist and LGBTQ groups. All the while, Putin swears that he has no problem with homosexuals.
Sir Elton John, a Grammy award-winning artist and international superstar, recently received a phone call from two Russian celebrity pranksters, now identified as Aleksei Stolyarov and Vladimir Krasnov. One man posed as Russian president Vladimir Putin while the other as a translator for the supposed president as they discussed LGBT rights with John.
John, an openly gay man, discussed in a Rolling Stone interview conducted shortly after the Prosvirnina event his relationship with Russian fans. He recalled a show the previous year in St. Petersburg when he spoke about the reoccurring problem Russia seems to have with homosexuality.
“As a gay man, I’ve always felt so welcome here in Russia,” he said, then shifting the statement to a much more personal lens, adding, “If I’m not honest about who I am, I couldn’t write this music. It’s not gay propaganda. It’s how I express life.”
After the initial prank call, the real Vladimir Putin really called Elton John and apologized for the call, saying, “I know you were pranked by those guys over the phone. Don’t be offended by them. They’re harmless. That, of course, doesn’t excuse them.”
Putin also said that he “knows how popular of a performer John is,” and suggested that if in the future their schedules should allow, he’s ready to meet with him and discuss any questions that interest him.
In the same article, it’s been noted that an actual meeting has not yet been scheduled for the president and unofficial international ambassador for LGBTQ rights.
John knows that lecturing will not be the best route to get Putin to see the situation.
“I’m not going to go in there with a sledgehammer. I’m going to go in there as a musician – I’m not a politician – and try and sort things out,” he said. “We’ll have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, and hopefully have a lovely conversation about music, sports and then the political thing about gay people.”
While John found no harm in the initial prank call (actually found it rather funny), he does not find the oppression of gays and homophobia funny – at all. Hopefully, when the meeting does take place, there will be some advancement towards the removal or (at the very least, for now) a reformation of the bill.
John is scheduled to hold a concert in Moscow on March 30th of next year.