What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Russia right now? The high rate of alcoholism, which may be responsible for 50 percent of deaths for people between the ages of 15 to 54? The mind-blowing amount of violence against women? Official figures are hard to come by, but it is estimated that between 10,000 to 14,000 women are murdered each year by a husband, partner or close relative. Or maybe it’s Vladimir Putin‘s strong-handed attempts to silence those with whom he disagrees, as evidenced by the imprisonment and recent release of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), ex-members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot? Their “crime” was performing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox church to protest the collusion of church and state.
Wrong on all counts: it’s actually the gays. Russian homosexuals are so threatening, in fact, that Putin banned gay couples from adopting Russian orphans, as well as heterosexuals living in countries that recognize same-sex marriage. But hey, I think we can all agree from looking at orphanages in other Eastern European countries that they provide a far more nurturing environment than a committed gay couple could ever hope to offer, right? The orphans in Russia are far better off being rocked to sleep in the beefy arms of an ex-politburo member than in loving homes where a gay marriage can happen at any moment. Especially the ones with disabilities.
The Russian media is also virulent in its condemnation of gays, with senior journalist Arkady Mamontov warning the country may well be overtaken “homosexual sodomite tsunami.” While the phrase “sodomite tsunami” might be an awesome name for a punk rock band, it represents some pretty dangerous thinking on the part of the former Evil Empire.
Then there’s the Russian Orthodox Church, one of the sources of Pussy Riot’s ire. In a statement brimming with Christian love, current Twitter darling and former priest Ivan Okhlobystin told a Siberian audience that he would “shove all gays live into an oven.” Just as Jesus would have done.
For some reason, statements like these concern the Russian gay community. Along, of course, with the “…stigma, harassment, and violence in their everyday lives in Russia.”
But since the Olympics have already commenced and are disrupting your favorite shows, you might as well watch and enjoy them. The funny furry hats. The matroyshka dolls. The heart-warming narrative about the 14-year-old figure skating champ dedicating her victory to her mom who’s confined to an iron lung and still sewed all of her skating costumes by hand. Only a Muslim-Kenyan socialist would do otherwise.