America legalized gay marriage 10 years after Canada – which did not stop this news from becoming the main event of the past week. Alex Shifrin, a Canadian who has lived in Moscow, ponders where hatred of liberal values came from and what else could it be spread to.
The events of the last weekend have shown that Russians do hate gays. And this is a relatively recent phenomenon. About three years ago, the average Russian, when asked what he thinks about “these rainbows”, would have answered, like any American in the late 1980s: “Well, okay.
Now, it seems that such mild homophobia with nuances is a thing of the past, and any person who looks like a gay person causes a fit of hatred among Russians with foam at the mouth. So let’s put our glasses on our nose, put on the white coat of the paramedic, and take a sample of this foam for analysis.
Russian politics is literally reactionary – that is, it changes direction in response to some external factors, and the call to “burn gay hearts” in 2013 was also a reaction. Yes, in those days there were some timid squeaks of the activist Alekseev about the Moscow gay parade, miserable pickets were held.
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But if you rewind the news, then in 2011-2013 we will not find reports that a gang of aggressive homosexuals beats up patriots in Victory Park or that unknown person’s frightened Deputy Mizulina with rainbow penises near the Duma. In fact, patriots and gays have a lot in common.
Both of them adore parades, both factions are dragged away from military uniforms and cannot watch Eurovision without shuddering. If, by some absurd accident, adherents of the tricolor and the rainbow flag would have gathered in one bar, then, believe me,
So what has Russian politics reacted to? Where did these anti-gay laws of 2012 come from? It seems to me that the turning point was Putin’s booing at Olimpiyskiy when he came out to congratulate boxer Emelianenko, and they shouted to him “Go away!”
In the same year, a liberal minority came to Bolotnaya Square, dissatisfied with the election results. Competently conducting their initiatives through the parliament, Surkov’s technologists provoked discussions in the controlled media, which clearly divided society according to their values and priorities.
Both the liberals and the guardians became radicalized, and the entire state machine worked to expose the protesters as a bunch of Los torn from the people.
During that time, many prohibitive laws were issued – among them were anti-gay ones. And it must be admitted that the transformation of Russian ideology was so brilliantly accomplished that it can be published in textbooks. I’m sure the guys in the presidential administration stayed up late, sipped coffee, smoked nervously, drew diagrams, tested ideas in focus groups.
We also work in advertising to create new brands: digging into the economy, looking at sociological calculations, studying the demographic picture and differences in regional preferences. Next, we formulate what triggers fear and pleasure for our target audience to create a product that expresses its values.
I guess the presidential boys drew such a huge diagram all over the wall, on which, with the help of pins, they applied all the key differences between the Moscow liberals and the inhabitants of the provinces. One of the pins probably had a rainbow flag and the signature “homosexuality”.
Everything that happened after Bolotnaya – gay hysteria, Pussy Riot, the “law of scoundrels” – is a classic example of reframing. Don Draper once said: “If you do not like what they say, then change the subject of the conversation.” And this, in fact, happened in 2012: no one discussed the legitimacy of Putin anymore – everyone plunged into hardcore debates about sex, religion, and foreign policy.
It got worse after Ukraine. I know that you cannot be frightened by the word “fascism” – you defeated it – but now its meaning has blurred and in Russia, it has become synonymous with the word “slime”.
Now the fascists are everyone with whom the Kremlin disagrees. Yesterday, on Facebook, I came across a revealing comment on the rainbow avatar of my Russian friend, who expressed solidarity with American gays. They wrote that as Hitler and the fascists stole the swastika from the Hindus, so the gays appropriated the rainbow for themselves.
This was followed by a sensible thought that it would be nice for Russia to declare war on sodom to win back this beautiful symbol. It seems that from now on gays are also fascists, the Moscow liberals are their accomplices, and it all looks like the script for a new film by John Waters.
And yet it seems to me that you guys underestimate yourself. This languid floundering with homosexuals is somehow too small for such a great country. You need to ban on the list: vegetarianism, yoga, New Balance sneakers. Some idiot suggested that the rainbow flag be outlawed – I would not stop there and sent all the meteorologists to the GULAG.
Where is the Merry Milkman sour cream hidden in the supermarket? Shoot! You can also recall the times of Peter and introduce a tax on hipster beards. Stop publishing these glossy magazines already, stop chewing burgers in restaurants and drinking foreign alcohol (poisoned!).
Last week I heard the news that they wanted to add flowers and chocolate to the anti-sanction list – again, you almost fell short! If I were you, I would forbid joy. After all, joy, pleasure, sex is all very Western stuff. And Russians need to focus on some more orthodox forms of self-expression. For example, ironically – you are good at it.
However, in reality, the story turns out to be sad, because gays are cool. It is difficult for me to overestimate Russia’s gay contribution to world culture: Gogol, Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Nezhinsky, Nureyev, Eisenstein, and even Ivan the Terrible – your homosexuals were the coolest!
Are you really ready to exchange this great asset for a couple of homophobic marches and weekly updates from Milonov? After all, Putin himself is not worried about homosexuality. And it won’t bother you until 58 types of gay men line up along the Russian border to launch giant dildos stuffed with tiny sparkles into your territory. On the other hand, after the legalization of gay marriage in America, perhaps NATO will change its tactics.
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