Russian Gay is Coming SF?;
How Moscow's Gays View Him
My neck is suffering from whiplash, trying to watch all the controversies stemming from a deleted blog owned by Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev, in which he probably made anti-Semitic and other offensive remarks. I say probably because he has refused to restore the blog and give everyone a chance to see for themselves what he wrote. If there is nothing wrong with his words, then he'll restore the blog, and until then, I remain skeptical of his claim that his posts were mistranslated.
Several weeks back, we were informed the Gay Liberation Network was sponsoring Nikolai's speaking tour of America, and that several mainstream and activist groups in California were cosponsoring his visit here. Then on February 28, when word circulated about troubling comments of his, Nikolai issued a statement saying he was canceling his trip the Golden State:
I know many of your are waiting to meet me in California and I was actually waiting to meet you as well.
But unfortunately, I just took the decision to cancel my appearances there. I have been highly pressured over the last 4 hours by the Producer of the event Robin Tyler in terms that are absolutely not acceptable. I have experienced such a stress in the last hours than cannot even be compared with what I faced while being arrested and insulted by the Moscow police over the last years. This is just another drop that I cannot accept. ...
However, that cancellation of his was actually a preemptive move because he knew the California sponsors and hosts were canceling on him and he wanted to get ahead of the latest train wreck that is the disaster of nearly every aspect of his trip to America. As far as many of us in SF knew, he was not coming here, but like a diva enjoying her self-created drama, Nikolai changed his mind.
He promised in all caps, via Karen Ocamb's blog:
IT IS TIME TO SHAKE CASTRO! AND I WILL DO IT! SO THAT THOSE WHO FORGOT WHAT IS GAY ACTIVISM SWITCH ON THEIR BRAIN AGAIN AND NOT CONCEAL BEHIND THE NAME OF HARVEY MILK!
He's supposed be in San Francisco on Monday evening at the Metropolitan Community Church, and we'll see if he shakes us up. I wouldn't be surprised if he concocted another conspiratorial plot and against changes his diva-like mind about coming here. But his promised appearance here next week is not the only news from Nikolai and his supporters.
His Gay Liberation Network colleagues yesterday issued a weak explanation on their guest's behavior:
On March 1st at Columbia University in New York, Nikolai Alekseev, Russia's foremost LGBT leader, finally directly addressed the controversy over the translated remarks he made on his blog in January (deleted a few weeks ago) that could understandably be interpreted as anti-Semitic, though he said that was not the intention of his original Russian language message. ...
When the controversy exploded, GLN organizers and others repeatedly urged Alekseev to directly address the remarks on his blog. But Nikolai, in a country not his own, uneasy and feeling himself smeared and besieged by angry demands for a retraction, at first stubbornly resisted, and so the controversy understandably escalated. By the time he offered a clarification of his remarks and an attempt at an apology, it was too late. The West Coast sponsors and organizers of Nikolai's tour, outraged almost as much at Nikolai's belligerent responses to them as his initial unwillingness to offer a statement and probably convinced he is a disguised anti-Semite, washed their hands of him and cancelled the West Coast portion of his tour. ...
Nikolai Alekseev has now made several clarifying statements directly addressing the issue of anti-Semitism. Were they as timely as we would like? No. Did they contain everything we might have wished? No. The man is no saint, nor are any of us. He has made mistakes and he has compounded them with intransigence. ...
If that's the best defense his primary sponsors can offer at this point of Nikolai, I say this gay Russian has a long way to go to repair the damage he has caused among former and potential American supporters of his advocacy.
Finally, I've been made aware of a September 2010 story from a gay Russian news site, obviously not controlled by Nikolai, about how other Russian gays view his alleged detainment by police at the Moscow airport and organizing skills:
Missed Moscow gay pride organizer turned up to hold a picket
The authorities keep silence and do not comment on this story. RIA “Novosti” earlier informed (automatic translation >>) that Domodedovo airport press-service had said that the main cause for his discharge from the flight was his refusal to take off his shoes for security control. Itar-Tass news agency citing the Ministry of the Interior press-centre's statement said that “the information on Mr. Alekseev's detention at the Domodedovo airport by the officials from the Russian transport police was not true”.
The Russian GLBT community has responded differently on this story. The poll by LGBT movement “Antidogma” (effective on the date of September 20th, 2010) shows that the opinion has divided: 44% believe that it was a PR-action to attract attention to himself, 30% think it was a gay hatred action against GLBT leader for his human rights defense actions, 37% could not give an answer. More than 50% of the respondents refused to support GLBT action “Mayor is a fag”
Gay Pride in the capital of Russia: More questions than answers!
Foreign gay press reports about the desire of some gay activists to conduct gay pride in Moscow in May of 2006. The idea, which was put transsexuals in Russia, caused aversion amongst gays across the country and especially in Moscow.
Immediately after the press conference with Nikolay Alekseev, who announced that he would conduct gay pride in the capital of Russia, 9 gay activists from the capital of Russia brought forth a letter in which they called this initiative "provocation from the authorities," and accused the organizers of the parade of conspiring with officials from the administration of the President. The majority of those signing the letter were editors of such sites as Gayclub.Ru, XsGay.Ru,
Lesbi.Ru, Lesbiru.Com, Travesty.Ru and Qguys.Ru.
The authors of the appeal call the intentions of the "self-proclaimed organizers of gay pride" "irresponsible" and note: "Having not even handed in an application for conducting the parade, he already speaks as if it is a done deal and talks about inviting "politicians from Europe" and "foreign stars."
Ed Mishin, the Editor-in-chief of the gay magazine "Kvir" and the site Gay.Ru, said, "Gay pride is the symbol of the unity of society and the gay community. It's too bad that in our country there isn't even unity in the gay community, and therefore it is strange to speak about the possibility of such a carnival like "Pride". Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals will be abused physically and be subjected to derogatory remarks. However, if someone wants to walk on Red Square with a rainbow flag, that is his right."
"There is still one more very important moment that the initiator of gay pride, Nikolay Alekseev, needs to understand, continued Editor-in-Chief of the magazine "Kvir"," - There has already been a similar case in history and it is called "Pop Gapon (people were led into the Russian Revolution of 1905 and as a result, hundreds of children, teenagers and adults were shot down - Gay.Ru) leads the people to carry on a dialogue with the authorities."
"In my opinion, this is exactly the same situation. Alekseev does not seem to be the person who can regulate the relations between homosexuals and authorities. In my opinion, he can't even get a dialogue with himself right."
We'll see if Nikolai shows up in San Francisco next week and how he shakes up the Castro. Please raise your hand if you think any of Nikolai's diva ways and controversies have aided international gay solidarity.