Author: M. G.
Vice published an article by Benjamin Butterworth about the words of Sochi's Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, who affirmed that there aren't gay people living in the city of this year's Winter Olympics. Sweet Anatoly really has a naïve view about people in Sochi or, more probably, he would like people in Sochi to be very naïve if not dumb. Stupid people are easier to govern, after all.
The author of Vice's article simply used the gay dating app Hornet to prove Mr Pakhomov wrong: ‘unexpectedly' Hornet is full of profiles of guys from Sochi! Butterworth conducted some interviews through Hornet and apparently "it seems that those with the most alluring photos are the most defiant in not criticising Putin. That could be because they naturally gravitate to the Russian president and his raw, bear-hunting masculinity. Or it could be that these are the profiles that extreme right homophobes are using to hunt Russia's gay youth, in Sochi and across the rest of the country". Nobody can give a real answer, even though tough is a very well founded suspicion.
However, the Internet is big and the journalist found people with very different views too, like Chuk - obviously a fake name. These are his words: "[The Olympics] becomes a show of dictators. And the boycott could be in vain. Europe still waves to the Games, if they are here. We want force to free us. We are being killed and you [are] not understanding. [...] Please, tell the world. If you must come for [the] Olympics, then see what they do to us and make them stop. Make them." Chuk is not asking just journalists to speak out for the Russian LGBT community, it's a request for everybody in the world gifted with a gram of conscience.
What's interesting is that, even if Pakhomov would be right, Sochi could enjoy the presence of Vladimir Luxuria -yes, another Vladimir!-, an Italian transgender that came to the Olympics to protest and to show Italians what's happening in Russia. Vladimir was arrested two times in less than one week for showing a banner saying in Russian "Gay is OK", read the full story here. Vladimir Luxuria is very famous in Italy, she can boast about having been elected in the Italian Parliament for one term and also having won an edition of the Italian version of the reality show 'Survivor'. The Italian Vladimir -Vladimiro is the real name- fought for the rights of transgenders and against the stigmatization and discrimination of the Italian LGBT community.
I really respect her and I appreciate the good intentions with which she decided to come to Sochi. Vladimir had a difficult past, as many transgenders did, but she also took some revenge thanks to the success she has had during these last years. She could go to Russia and break the local laws without being persecuted or receive any violence, luckily: she was just kept by the police for a very short time - nobody in Russia wants an ex foreign MP and public figure to be jailed. Plus, as soon as the news of her arrest arrived in Italy, there were already people calling for an intervention of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino.
There were no calls to any minister when Vladislav Tornovoi was tortured and killed and the same goes for many other cases. This is no longer a matter of discrimination or prejudice, Russian homophobia became a matter of lives being put in real danger. There are people that are organizing to hunt gays, to torture them and maybe kill them. What's leading these people is hate and hate is being tolerated by Russian authorities just because they can't officially encourage homophobic groups. They would love to, though: Russia is a huge country with enormous problems and the government has many responsibilities. To address people's rage against some groups to hide the government's faults isn't a very new strategy, but it still works pretty well. What to do? What to say? Just don't forget what happened in the past, keep our eyes open and our mouths even more. Never be silent, this is the least we all can do.