Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgian, Russian & Polish Gays
Opine on War in Caucasia

I have lots of news to share today from a few different gay perspectives regarding the war in the Caucasia region, starting with a brief note from Paata Sabelashvili that he sent to me:

Thanks again for being so supportive!

I do not think you can do much for the community and inclusive right now. But the thing is that we are in no unique position. The entire country suffers equally (at least in this way there is some equality) and we are hoping that everything will resolve soon.

Thanks you again for thinking of us!

I will keep you posted.

His dark humor, seeing something good from the war for gays, in that they are suffering just like every other citizen of Georgia, is admirable and I'm not sure I would have his strength if I were faced with living through a war. When I hear from him again, or our mutual friends, I'll share his message here.

Add this short news note to the "there's always a homophobic angle to the other side's cowardice in a war" files. It comes from an ultra-nationalist Russian news and political advocacy web site:


One of killed georgian soldiers in Chinvali wore stockings. Photo of one of Georgia Army oficial was found in his pocket. On other side of the photo - name of the oficial and a erotic message.

Is it just me and my jaded Western homosexual sensibility that sees this as just too pat a "news report" to put much stock in its truth? About the only thing missing from the story is that a rainbow flag was also found in his pocket.

In other news from Russia, a spat has broken out between gay groups and leaders based in Moscow over the incursion into Georgia. According to Nikolai Alexeyev and his GayRussia group, have issued a statement deploring a rival gay leader, Ed Mishin, and his organization Gay.Ru for their endorsement of Russia's military action. Mishin and Gay.Ru have not made an English translation of their endorsement available the public.

FYI, Alexeyev and GayRussia are the activists responsible for attempting to stage gay pride events every May. This is from their announcement posted to the Gays Without Borders site:

Russian LGBT site Gay.Ru known for its opposition to the openness and public manifestations of LGBT community in Russia, expressed its full loyalty to the military intervention which current Russian authorities launched against independent Georgia . . .

The site Gay.Ru fully supported governmental version of the events in Georgia writing in its article: “There is an operation now being conducted in South Ossetia to force Georgia, which started military conflict with ossetians, to peace”.

This information resource which belongs to gay businessman Ed Mishin (Mikhail Edemskiy) repeated in full the official formula concerning this military conflict announced by Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev.

According the site, we are witnessing not the military aggression of one state against the other, but a sort of a military “operation”. This is exactly what is being said in the official Russian propaganda of controlled state media.

This is not the first time when the site Gay.Ru demonstrates its full loyalty to the current political regime in Russia. In 2006 it was regularly used for attacks against the conduct of Gay Pride march in Moscow . . .
Meanwhile, the war of Russia against Georgia provoked negative reactions from many European LGBT activists, especially from Eastern European countries . . .

Russian LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru condemns all military actions and supports peaceful ways of international and national conflicts resolution by means of negotiations.

You know a gay movement is strong outside the USA and Western Europe when there are competitive gay advocacy groups sparring with one another!

Meanwhile, from Poland, longtime gay advocate and political organizer Lukasz Palucki, offers up his views of the situation over there:

Reporter Siergey Podsosonny called feew times to Georgia, but without results. His friends cell phones dosnt work. (even in Tibilisi). There are also problems with internet connection to Georgia (russian army destroyed lot of fiber channells).

You know WHO will be next ? I think that Ukraine. Russia will try to use russian minority. In my country people think that we should prepare to send polish army to support Ukraine in future, becouse West World will not help them, like they didnt help Georgia. Today presidenst of Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are going to Tibilisi to support Georgia. From last news: russian army is preparing to attack Tibilisi. They are going in one polish plane in next 20 minutes.

When I first time heard about this war (saturday evening) I was on Black See, on the ship from Koktiebiel to (port in south Ukraine) there was gay party organised by ukrainian gay community. I meet lgbt people from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and other ex-sovet country.

This what is really amazing for me that russian gays who was there, support the war ! So please dont expect form lgbt community in Russia to think in "west way". Remeber that they dont have free media. There are gay-russian-nationalist even in Ukraine.

I find it a fascinating window into a small part of gay life abroad to read these messages from my friends in the countries close to the war-torn Caucasus region. Their fears come across in their written messages. Nikolai Alexeyev sent this reply to Lukasz Palucki:

Thanks for the information that you sent. It is very useful and interesting. The only thing I want to oppose is your statement concerning the support of Russian gays to the war in Georgia. I can tell you that me and my fellow activist Nikolai Baev and GayRussia as an organisation were totally against what Russia is doing in Georgia which we consider as an invasion of an independent state. I can guess that many Russian people as well as gays are in favor of this operation and this war as they are under the same propaganda pressure from the authorities and media but we have always been independent and liberty minded people and will never support such military actions.

And finally, from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, a thirty-ish queer blogger, Jere Keys, looks at the dearth of coverage about the war from other USA gay blogs, and the history of gay people in Georgia:

I’ve noticed that the LGBT blogs I read have not had much to say on the Georgia-Russia conflict. I’ve been doing some research on Georgia to find out how LGBT issues relate to the young democracy. Here are a couple of items I turned up.

Georgia was the first country in South Caucasus to decriminalize homosexuality when it joined Council of Europe . . .

I’m concerned about how the Georgia-Russia conflict will play out for Eastern European LGBT people. Will other former soviet nations redouble their efforts to become more “European” - or will they react to the war as a reason to move very cautiously in human rights? Will Orthodox Christianity continue to influence politics in ways as great or greater than Evangelical Christianity has gripped the Republican agenda in the U.S.?

That's about all I have to share today on this story, other than to say I believe my blog is just one expression of solidarity with gay Georgians and all people in the area suffering Russian bombs, and I hope a cease-fire is soon reached.

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