Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?


Randy, Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson, Says: ‘#ItGetsBetter…and It’s Complicated.’


Close-Up – by A. R. Ammons

Are all these stones


I said

and the mountain



but reluctant to

admit my praise could move it much


shook a little

and rained a windrow ring of stones

to show

that it was so


Stone felled I got

up addled with dust


and shook


without much consequence


Obviously I said it doesn’t pay

to get too

close up to



and the mountain friendless wept

and said

it couldn’t help


Re-Imagining Religion: “Falling In Love Will Not Send You to Hell.”

                          – Randy Roberts Potts

“All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior and sex outside marriage.”

                                                                   – Excerpt, ORU Student Codes , Oral Roberts University

Wouldn’t you know it: every time the “gay agenda” is reexamined, the “master plan” appears to become more and more normal on the face of it. Because it is.

“The gay agenda” is “the human agenda:” we all want love. Hope. Home. Family. We all desire the same things.

Back in 2010, Oral Roberts’ out, gay grandson Randy Roberts Potts read a letter to his closeted gay Uncle Ronnie (Oral Roberts’ eldest son) and recorded a viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI) to honor Ronnie’s life, as unfortunately, his uncle had already passed away when Randy was just a kid (in June of 1982).

Randy’s irrepressible spirit remains to alchemize life’s tests and turn them into life’s testimonies.

In the video, after 2:38 minutes of silence (during which time we see the handwritten letter for his uncle), Potts reads a revelatory poem entitled “Close-Up” written by A. R. Ammons. Then, Randy moves into his own compelling testimony about the strange magic behind growing up with a gay uncle (around whom Randy’s mom was most captivated), and how it affected Potts himself.

We witness Potts as he entreats Ronnie’s spirit (for healing? For explanations?), “When my mother spoke of you, a look of awe lit up her face. You were the one voice in her life that could inhabit multiple worlds at once…. You stood for everything she was afraid I would become: gay, intellectual, and godless. And yet nothing caused my mother’s face to light up like your memory. I was jealous, and I always hoped to be you.”

Randy recounts following in his uncle’s footsteps simply by following his heart, and reminisces about the tragedy of losing a loved one who took his own life because he felt he had no options. No hope. Because he felt that life would not and could not get better.

“I’ve seen pain and loss and sorrow,” Potts continues. “I would have held you in my arms had I been a man at the time…. but there’s no one holding you, because you’re holding on to no one. And now I’m here sharing the same destiny…. your path and mine are crossed. They intersect…in some ridiculous dance.”

With a tonality not unlike Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” Potts brings us into present day. Yes, he is angry, but we can somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel, the burning hot flames of passion for living forever aglow in Randy’s heart. We somehow feel his uncle lives in some kind of virtual second life, through Randy.

Another “Gay Agenda,” Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Oral Roberts was the first and one of the biggest of the televangelists. He brought the Pentecostal faith to mainstream America, he started a self-named university, and of course lived a rich life through his relentless please for money from his followers. His grandson Randy Roberts Potts grew up with him…steeped in that really sheltered, Far Right Christian world. Now he’s following a calling like his grandfather, but with an unexpected message.”

Reporter Page Hopkins for MSNBC

In sharing his story with MSNBC, Potts did indeed reveal he’d felt suicidal too—coming out was unthinkable to him. Having married a woman and raising three children with her, Potts’ coming out narrative is a common one that always feels mysterious and new during the discovery process. He told Hopkins, “Honestly, I thought I was just a really good christian that I just didn’t sexualize women.”

Though Potts’ closeted gay uncle passed away when Randy was just a boy, as he unfolded the discoveries about Ronnie’s life, they paralleled discoveries of his own.

It is now Randy’s life mission to reach back across the table and minister tolerance and inclusiveness to evangelicals themselves. Potts informed Page Hopkins that he’s doing so non-publicly, holding confidential meetings with religious leaders and consulting with them regarding family cohesion, suicide prevention and myriad other positive effects of practicing religious tolerance.

In one of the most romantic and courageous activism campaigns out there, Potts and his partner are now conducting what they call an ongoing “performance project designed for conservative towns with visuals of domestic gay life.” Potts is setting up storefronts from town to town , choosing to put his normal day-in day-out familial relationships on display, in a performance art piece called—what else…

“…The Gay Agenda.



Reach out to Randy @randyrpotts and connect with ORU Out, ORU LGBTQ alumni and ombudsmen) at http://oru-out.tumblr.com.

To watch Potts’ It Gets Better video in its entirety, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI

Have you got time to sit and pray a while? Check out Randy Roberts Potts – Re-Imagining Religion Series at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uYWf2WfPH8. During his ministerial speech in this video, Potts reveals that his brother is also gay and his family still ostracizes them both.


And for more information about suicide prevention and LGBTQIA resources and support, please visit the It Gets Better Project at http://www.itgetsbetter.org.






Federal Court Upholds Ca. Ban on Conversion Therapy For Minors

State’s Ban on Conversion Therapy Does Not Violate Free Speech

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on August 29 that the state’s ban on conversion or reparative therapy that aims at turning gay minors straight does not violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment. This is a precedent for California and prohibits health practitioners from offering psychotherapy aimed at changing gay youth’s sexual orientation.

Excludes Religious Groups

Unlicensed pastors and lay counselors affiliated with church programs that seek to change gay youth to straight sexual identity are exempt from this law. The therapy’s effect on gay persons has been questioned or rejected by all the mental health professional associations. Reports of suicide, low self-esteem, depression have been experienced by those who have undergone reparative therapy. There are no long-term studies of the efficacy of the therapy.

Alan Chambers, Director of Exodus International, one of the more well-known ex-gay Christian organizations, issued an apology in June as did Robert Spitzer, M.D. of Columbia University who retracted his “Ex-Gay Study of 2001 last April. Spitzer, one of the original psychiatrists who led the movement to have homosexuality as a disorder removed from the Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual in 1973, deemed his study faulty.

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris stated that the ban was necessary to protect children from a coercive practice that can put them at increased risk of suicide. Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey recently signed into law a similar ban on reparative therapy for minors in his state.

Injunction Against SB1172

The new ban was scheduled to go into effect January 1 but was put on hold by the 9th Circuit. District Court Judge William Shubb blocked the law banning the harmful therapy.
The cases that the appeals court had to decide on were brought by professionals who practice sexual orientation change therapy, two families who said their teenage sons benefitted from the therapy, and a national association of Christian mental health counselors argue that the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, and in the case of the counselors, jeopardizes their livelihoods.

However, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985, Judge Susan Graber, a 1998 appointee of Bill Clinton’s, and Judge Morgan Christen, a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama, heard the case and unanimously held that California has the power to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies deemed harmful, and the fact that speech may be used to carry out these therapies does not turn such bans into prohibitions of speech.

The law says therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

WAL-MART Employee’s Domestic Partners To Receive Health Benefits

Full-time Associates in 2014 Can Cover LGBT Spouse or Domestic Partner

The world’s largest retailer and single largest employer outside of the federal government said on August 27 that it will offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. employees in all fifty states next year. Regardless of local laws that vary from state to state on same-sex marriage, Wal-mart spokesman David Tovar said, “since we operate in all fifty states, we thought it was important to develop a single definition for all Wal-Mart associates in the United States.” Another spokesperson Randy Grove, stated that “by adopting a single definition, we’ll offer clarity and consistency for our associates.”

Wal-Mart, that, in the past has had human rights violations, is not only extending the usual health benefits, but is adding a vision plan, critical illness or accident plans, life insurance, and 100% coverage for some surgeries, including hip replacement and programs to quit smoking.

Conditions for Receiving Benefits

In a postcard that was sent to workers, employees were notified that the “full suite” of benefits will be available starting January 1. The sign-up period runs from October 12 to November 1. To qualify, the employees’ domestic partners can be covered if they are legal spouses, not legally separated or a domestic partner defined as “someone living in a relationship similar to marriage for at least twelve month with the intention to continue sharing a household indefinitely.”(Of course, the benefits also apply to heterosexual couples who are domestic partners.)

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, isn’t looking for proof from employees that they have met the requirements; they are working on an honor system. More than half of its 1.3 million U.S. employees are on its health-care plans. However, the company currently does not know how many employees will use either of the new benefits.

Policy Change

The policy change occurred after discussions within the company, but not the result of any board vote. The inclusion of LGBT domestic partners is regarded as a “business decision,” not a moral claim.

The company caused controversy when previously it halted plans to build stores in D.C. after the District passed a law requiring large retailers to pay at least $12 an hour to employees. Executive Director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, Darren Phelps, said he wants to see more from the company in terms of wages for employees.

According to Human Rights Campaign’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index, Wal-mart previously offered an LGBT-inclusive policy, but lacked partner benefits and didn’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance or LGBT competency training or resources. The implementation of domestic partnership benefits will improve the company’s rating on the HRC’s CEI score.

Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos


Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)





Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”




Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project


Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”


Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”


Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”


Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store



To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.


Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos


Monument for Gays Persecuted by Nazis Planned in Tel Aviv

Symbolic Pink Triangle in Meier Park Planned

Israel’s first monument to homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis will be erected later this year near the headquarters of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv. There is a concrete triangle containing a pink triangle, the symbol used by the Nazis to mark homosexuals. A plaque beside the monument and a bench will give information about the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. The memorial will be inscribed as such: “To the memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual preference and gender identity.”

Park Setting

The monument, erected in central Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, said attorney Eran Lev, the ‘brains’ behind the project,” is highly significant. One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks. We’re bringing that memory back into the public space. It’s very moving, We felt it was important to present it as part of the park.” It will be guarded all the time.

Professor Yael Moriah, a landscape architect, is responsible for the park’s renovation over the past years, is in charge of the planning. Lev, a member of the municipal council from the Meretz party, received support from Mayor Ron Huldai.

References Hirschfeld and Beck

The only homosexuals who will not be mentioned on the new memorial are those who are members of the Nazi party. Although the monument is universal, and does not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Nazi regime, it will also contain a reference to Jewish gays, including Magnus Hirschfeld, a prominent doctor and advocate for sexual minorities as well as Gerhard Beck, the last gay Holocaust survivor who died in 2012.

Even After Camps, Returned to Prison

Similar monuments to the gay victims of the Nazis have been built in Sydney, San Francisco, Cologne, Montevideo, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. Most of them contain the triangle. It is unknown how many closeted gay men were sent to concentrated camps under other pretexts. Following the WWII, many men who had been imprisoned for their sexuality by the Nazis were returned into the German prison system under the Allied government and they were denied the compensation pay outs given to other groups of victims.

Paragraph 175
In fact, Paragraph 175 of the Nazi penal code, which made gay sex a crime, remained on the books until after WWII. The law was finally repealed in 1969 (the pink triangle was not displayed at Dachau until forty years after the camp was liberated!).


Approximately 50,000 gay men were convicted under Paragraph 175. Between 7,000 and 10,000 were murdered in the camps. Historian Moshe Zimmermann, pointed out that “the persecution of lesbians was often concealed using other pretexts. They were considered “asocials,’ a group that included unemployed people and alcoholics.”

Lowest Regard by All

“The numbers aren’t official,” states Zimmermann, “as for the Jews and Gypsies, but the deportation of 15,000 people to the concentration camps for homosexuality was a deliberate act of persecution.”
The “homosexuals” were regarded as the lowest of the low, even by the other inmates, prisoners, and guards. They were often subjected to the most grueling labor.

Log In, Get Off, Tax Write Off? Charitable Pornography Making A Stand

With vision and the internet, you can basically do anything anymore. Two organizations are showing how that is possible using the pornography industry to raise money for different types of charities. I’ll let you read that again if it seems surprising.

A newly-launched all-male porn studio—Boys Town Studios—will be releasing videos and donating all profits to the lgbt community to support gay rights.

Mike Kulich, owner of Monarchy Distribution, says that in order to benefit from the charity, “Anyone will be able to write Boys Town Studios and tell their stories about how bigotry and homophobia has affected their lives, and we will step in to help those victims as much as we can.” The first video’s profits will go toward helping queer Russian refugees because of everything happening to the lgbt community in Russia.

The first film to be released is entitled Deep In The Dark sometime in October, and the studio is planning to release at least two films per month, including branching into genres like twinks, bears, s&m, and other fetishes. Kulich’s reasons for launching the not-for-profit porn studio is because he wants “to help the people suffering all over the world and living in persecuting countries using the best way I know how: making quality porn.”

Not only will the studio have videos, they’ll also be branching out into other markets. As Kulich explained, “100 percent of the profits from all these movies, including DVD sales, video-on-demand, cable and broadcast will be donated to our newly created non-profit.” Monarchy Distribution is the parent company for the new studio and primarily handles straight titles, so it should be able to give a quality backing for everything Boys Town Studios creates.

Another creative solution to issues facing queer people worldwide comes in the form of something you can not only buy, but actually participate in.

Michael Wondercub has created a Rockethub, a “crowdfunding machine” similar to Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, for his brainchild “Benevidz—Sex for Charity” project. The website is made up of webcam models who perform for money, and then can donate between 10 and 15 percent of what they make during their time online to a specific charity, of which the site has six so far willing to accept donated money from sex workers.

The Rockethub announcement describes the idea stemming from Wondercub’s past, and why charities he has lined up include aiding victims of domestic abuse and cancer research. He also got the idea for cams for charity from his college days, when according to an interview with The Huffington Post he raised money for college masturbating online and felt empowered by it.

Benevidz.com will have male, female, and trans performers; gay, straight, old, and young (over 18 of course), and work to appeal to a large range of people. Wondercub hopes that if he can tap into just a tiny percentage of the adult entertainment industry, he could donate more than $1 million to charities in all of his causes, which his video speaks a lot to.

Wondercub is looking to raise $15,000 for overhead costs associated with starting up the website in order to more quickly be able to donate money toward his causes. He’s hoping that you’ll be able to give you a helping hand so he can give you one back when his website goes live. You can also sign up to be part of the action and star in your own show.

Maybe the world of pornography is changing, or maybe porn studios are hoping people will pay for pornography based on moral grounds. If both endeavors are successful, it sounds like they’ll be doing good things for everyone involved, so be on the lookout for some new things.

Remember The Alamo, And How It’s A Little Bit Homophobic

Planning a trip to the Alamo anytime soon? Nationwide, people are remembering the city where it’s near but not for positive reasons.

LGBT grassroots social justice organization GetEQUAL Texas recently issued a travel advisory warning for queer people wanting to visit San Antonio. In its official statement, the advisory includes a warning that, “The city of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (“LGBT”) people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation.”

The reason is twofold. The first came after attendees at a city council meeting on August 16th booed a gay marine for advocating for a non-discrimination ordinance that is in front of its council for consideration.

Eric Alva, a gay Marine and a Purple Heart recipient who lost his leg during combat in the Iraq War, spoke in front of the San Antonio council that Friday. He testified that the seventh largest city in the U.S. was the only major city in Texas and the country without a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in city employment, public accommodations, housing, city contractors, and appointments to boards and commissions. An audience of around 300 people booed and hissed Alva after he said, “Without this ordinance I can be denied from applying for a job or thrown out of an establishment, regardless of if I’m a purple heart recipient or a wounded warrior.”

Alva was shocked and upset at the reaction of the crowd. Opponents to the ordinance demonstrated outside of the city hall before the measure, riled up after radio talk shows and webpages claimed that the ordinance would be used to discriminate against Christians who opposed same-sex unions and homosexuality on religious reasons. After the crowd’s negative reaction, he exclaimed, “To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me!”

The second reason comes from secretly recorded anti-lgbt comments made by San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan released just after the meeting.

In a May 21 meeting, a former aide to the councilwoman recorded a conversation of Chan where she called homosexuals “disgusting” and said they shouldn’t be able to adopt children. Chan has made her views clear from the start that the recording was an infringement of her First Amendment rights, that the meeting was closed-door and meant for freedom of expression, but that hasn’t alleviated peoples’ concerns of the city or its reactions to lgbt issues.

Alva and others have disagreed with the travel warning, saying that the city as a whole is welcoming to lgbt individuals and that it is a safe place. Mayor Julián Castro said that, “This advisory unnecessarily stands to hurt the city. The fact is that San Antonio always has been and remains welcoming to all.” Some say that the alert doesn’t mean much, that visitors will still go to the city and it won’t affect their travel plans. Supporters of the alert cite discrimination at the hands of the city council and their unwillingness to meet with lgbt groups and talk about political issues.

The city’s non-discrimination ordinance will be put to a vote September 5th, and the travel alert will expire September 6th, although GetEQUAL Texas assures that it could be extended.

As long as you avoid angry-looking conservative Christians and aren’t someone who’s sacrificed body parts for the freedom of this country, you’ll be more than fine on a romantic vacation to the Alamo.

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.


Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”


L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”



Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:


Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.


Mainstream Hollywood Needs To Come Out A Little

This year marks the first year GLAAD, an organization that works with media (social, cultural, and entertainment) on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and issues, has released a report that measures the representation of lgbt people in the mainstream film industry.

GLAAD reports that it has followed and advocated for lgbt character and issue inclusion in television for almost twenty years, and that this year, because of how quickly television shows have become inclusive, the organization has shifted its focus to the behind-the-times film industry. It started the research because “major film studios appear reluctant to include LGBT characters in significant roles or franchises,” and from its research, that certainly seems to be the case.

The “Studio Responsibility Index” looked at the six largest film studios in Hollywood: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, and The Walt Disney Studios. Only films released during the 2012 calendar year were chosen, amounting to 101 films (and Dalmatians). What was searched for in each film was an lgbt character, they were classified into minor or major characters, and then counted under demographic information, including race/ethnicity and sexual orientation/gender identity.

What the report found is that less than 14% of the films had a character which identified as lgbt. The majority of these (56%) were gay males, followed by lesbians (33%), although male representation almost doubled females. Almost 84% of all queer characters were white, and none were Asian, Pacific Islanders, or multi-racial. The films which were the most inclusive? Comedies, while no family-oriented movies contained a hint of queerness in them.

Of the six studios studied, none got a passing grade. Two—20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Studios—are considered failing, with one lgbt character between the two studio powerhouses.

The report also establishes its own barometer test for the stereotyping and flatness involved in creating queer characters. The “Vito Russo Test” takes its name from GLAAD co-founder and celebrated film historian, has three points a film has to pass in order to be considered having a queer character that matters. The test takes direction from the famous “Bechdel Test” for women, and reads:

1.     The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

 2.     That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. I.E. they are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

 3.     The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.

Of the 14 films identified with lgbt characters, less than half of them pass this test, showing that the “LGBT community may be increasingly well represented on television, but clearly there is a lot of work remaining in Hollywood film.”

Recommendations made by GLAAD for the film industry touch on the importance of queer characters and their positive portrayal, especially in greater frequency and in more important roles, though at the very least in “normalizing” roles of everyday encounters. The report also underscored the importance of diversity which the entire entertainment industry has been struggling with for years. Issues of race, gender, socio-economic background, religion, and age are just as important as lgbt issues and are routinely glazed over. Lastly and perhaps most expectedly, there needs to be far more improvements when it comes to transgender inclusion in film. GLAAD points out that “transgender representations remain at least 20 years behind the curve [in both film and television].” They go on to say that since there has been more publicity about trans issues nationwide, the portrayal of trans issues should keep pace, rather than contribute to the marginalization of the trans community, something that has been becoming far too commonplace.