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Friday, September 6, 2013

Russian Author, Lesbian Activist, and Mother: "Get Us the Hell Out of Here"

Posted by on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 2:20 PM

This is required reading:

Masha Gessen is a Moscow-based writer, journalist and activist who's been speaking out in recent months on Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. Though she's an American citizen, she's from Russia and has lived in Russia for many years, raising three children with her lesbian partner, a Russian citizen. Gessen hoped Western pressure in recent months would help change the course of Russia's crackdown on its LGBT citizens, but now she believes that that's not going to happen, and that it's time to for Russian LGBT people to flee the country to escape what she says has now become "all-out war" against LGBT people in Russia. And she's calling on the United States to allow political asylum for LGBT Russians, and for LGBT activists here to focus on making that happen.

Yesterday, after months of rumors, a bill was introduced in the Russian Duma that compares LGBT people to alcoholics and drug abusers and would deny LGBT Russians custody of their own biological or adopted children.

Gessen had already sent her oldest son overseas, fearful that he'd be snatched by the government.

"My situation is that my partner and I are raising three kids, one of whom is adopted and two of whom are biological," Gessen explained to me yesterday on my radio program in an interview from Moscow. (Listen to clips of the interview below.) "In June the Russian parliament banned adoption by same-sex couples. It was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately." But now, if the new law passes—the adoption law passed in four days—Gessen's biological children could be taken too.

READ THE WHOLE THING.

 

Comments (45) RSS

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rob! 1
Underground railroad. Now. Besides tactics to pressure and embarrass Putin and the Russian state, how can we encourage more enlightened countries to expedite immigration for asylum seekers from fascist regimes?
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on September 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM · Report this
raindrop 2
Is it far fetched to think that Putin is reviewing plans for concentration camps and gas chambers?
Posted by raindrop on September 6, 2013 at 2:42 PM · Report this
NopeNope 3
I think the one problem with the concept of encouraging LGBT folks to flee Russia as a solution to their oppression is that unlike persecuted people of a certain race (i.e. jewish people fleeing Nazi Germany), even if every LGBT person currently living in Russia were able to escape, there would be a whole new generation of LGBT folks in Russia in a matter of years. While I totally understand the sentiment behind the idea, it's short-sighted.

That being said, I don't have a better solution.
Posted by NopeNope on September 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
danindowntown 4
@ 2 Goddwin's Law.

One wonder's where the outrage and calls for protest were when Uganda was proposing (I think they still are proposing) their so called "Kill The Gays" law? Sure the punditocracy was pissed but I can't remember protests at consulates and embassies or boycotts. Selective outrage is selective.
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 5
@4: If you missed the outrage and calls for protest about Uganda, you weren't paying attention. Start here for a primer on the international reaction.

As to boycotts and calls for economic sanctions, Russia has a significantly larger economy and more international trading relations than Uganda. And is hosting the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. So those type of responses are more effective for Russia than Uganda.

That said, excellent attempt to distract attention from the situation as it exists today in Russia.

PS - It's "Godwin".
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on September 6, 2013 at 3:06 PM · Report this
6
Kind of surprised that democratic governments aren't placing sanctions against Russia for its anti-GLBT laws. For example, why was the G20 summit held in Russia this week? Given their homophobia, they shouldn't be allowed to host any international events.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on September 6, 2013 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 7
4, so is false equivalency. please show me why you feel Uganda & Russia are at all alike.

well, don't bother. I'll just tell you now that they're not. Russia is a nation that has complex industrial infrastructure, their currency has power on the international markets, it is an exporter of food stuff, raw industrial materials, as well as a major importer of goods from Europe, Asia & America. The population, the geography, the politics, the culture, there is no subject where these two nations are at all similar.

So when influencing them, the approaches also will be different. Of course, I doubt you really care about practical approaches, you seem more interested in attacking those who are trying to make the world a better place. Other people aren't moving fast enough to make the world perfect? Boo-fucking-hoo. Or are you just trying to point out how useless it is to do anything, because those who try are hypocrites? In that case, you're on the same level as those in Jamaica, Uganda, Russia: you're doing your best to hold back progress.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on September 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
8
@7 Furthermore, if we accept Russia as non-pariah with their current direction, we encourage other country's to go even further, which is exactly what their blood thirsty supporters in the United States want.
Posted by cracked on September 6, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
danindowntown 9
@ 5 Thanks for the typo correction.

Thanks I was and do pay attention to the situation in Uganda and I can bullshit on the rest of your comment. Western governments have and do condemn the actions of the Ugandan government but the level of outrage in certain segments of the gay community did not nearly reach the fever pitch that the outrage against Russia has and that is a fact.
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
COMTE 10
Wow. Ironic, considering Russia has probably the highest per capita rate of alcohol-related "disorders" of any country in the world, it's sort of a backhanded way of saying LGBT's are about as "normal" as a solid majority of Russian citizens.

(I know that's NOT what they're trying to say, but seriously, they probably should have picked a more germane analogy if they wanted to suggest homosexuality is an abnormal behavior.)
Posted by COMTE on September 6, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
danindowntown 11
@ 7 Blah, blah, blah, blah...

The fact remains that the gay community has latched on to this issue while largely choosing to stay quiet the same issues in smaller, less developed countries.

Like I said before selective outrage is selective.
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
danindowntown 12
Also any hope that actions taken in this country will in anyway influence a Russian leader like Putin is naive at best. If Russians and Russian leaders hate one thing it is criticism from the West. It pisses off pretty much every Russian, conservative or liberal, and usually causes them to double-down on the action that the West is protesting.

So pat yourself on the back for your protests and boycotts and letter writing and television coverage but know that your efforts will likely do as much good as trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose.
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 3:56 PM · Report this
blip 13
http://www.buzzfeed.com/saeedjones/76-co…

What is happening in Russia is terrible but it is neither unique nor necessarily worse than the persecution, criminalization, and slaughter gay people have been experiencing in many countries throughout the world. Acknowledging this does not diminish the efforts to help gay people in Russia. There may be valid reasons why it is easier or more urgent to put pressure on Russia, but do not mistake them for excuses not to take action elsewhere.
Posted by blip on September 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
14
@11, so your argument is that gay people hate gay people?

@12, and you're arguing that we should support Russia's pogrom against gay people?
Posted by GermanSausage on September 6, 2013 at 4:10 PM · Report this
danindowntown 15
@ 14 Puhleeze, if you are going to put words in my online comment mouth please try a teensy bit harder.

Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 4:13 PM · Report this
16
Berlin 1933 = Moscow 2013

This is going to get a lot uglier before it gets better but that's not an excuse to give up on the boycotts.

How do we educate Russians? There has to be ways to do it.
Posted by kwodell on September 6, 2013 at 4:16 PM · Report this
danindowntown 17
@ 16 Oops! Godwin's Law strikes again.

Comparing Nazi actions in 1933 to Russia today is lazy and not an apples to apples comparison. You would have been better off comparing Putin's actions to Stalin's actions against LGBT citizens.

Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM · Report this
18
@17

Godwin's Law doesn't apply when the comparison is appropriate.
Posted by Largo on September 6, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this
19
@15, I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm pointing the absurdity of your arguments.

If you want to just come out and say that you're a homophobe who supports Putin's attack on gays and free speech, and your'e butthurt because people are standing up against it, you don't need me to say it for you.
Posted by GermanSausage on September 6, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
20
@ 16 If you are not arguing that Western nations should not protest the anti-gay laws that Russia has passed then what are you arguing?
Posted by Buffy on September 6, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Mark in Colorado 21
Even the dumbass Godwin admitted that there are legitimate comparisons. It's just another pussy arrogant way of trying to censor.

Hey danindowntown!: Shove your "Godwin" up your father's asshole. You piece of living rotting shit.

Posted by Mark in Colorado on September 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
danindowntown 22
@ 19 How soon we are reduced to personal attacks and weak ones at that. Like I said try harder.

@ 20 I have never once argued against Western powers protesting the appalling actions of the Russian government when it comes to LGBT. They can and should. I simply observed that Russia has sparked outrage where pay abuses in counties like Uganda and Jamaica have only provoked tepid responses from the public. I also stand by my comment that outside pressure by the public will not sway Putin. So like I said protest and clamor if it makes you feel good but don't expect results. Russia is still to powerful for out government to do anything meaningful to stop Putin's "pogrom."
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
danindowntown 23
@21 Hi Mark. Have they not invented commas in Colorado? Anyway I digress. Of course there are times when comparisons to the crimes of the Nazis are apt but this ain't one of them.
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
24
@22, where oh where was that boycott of Ugandan vodka?

Yeah, I'm not buying it.
Posted by GermanSausage on September 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM · Report this
danindowntown 25
@ 24 Well, really. Now you aren't making any sense at all. Are you on the Ugandan vodka?
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 26
shorter @25, 23, 22, etc: concern troll is verrrrrry concerrrrrrrrned!

Seriously if your best argument here is that somehow the "gay community" has been ignoring Uganda (!!!!), then you should march your weak sauce back the fuck home right now.
Posted by Doctor Memory http://blahg.blank.org on September 6, 2013 at 5:46 PM · Report this
danindowntown 27
@ 26 Reading comprehension has never been a strength on SLOG. You carry on that tradition in grand fashion.

Again, my original point was and is the gay community has chosen Russian abuses of LGBT people for outrage and abuses of LGBT people in less developed counties for mild anger. Unless you can point me to evidence of widespread internet angst that turned into multiple protests against Uganda and Jamaica then I shall consider my point made and say goodnight, SLOG. I said goodnight!
Posted by danindowntown on September 6, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
raindrop 28
@27 - Just because there was no organized protest to the extent we see for Russia in comparison to Uganda and Jamaica does not negate what's going on in Russia. Your contorted logic is like just because we didn't prepare for a tornado means we that should ignore the hurricane.
Posted by raindrop on September 6, 2013 at 6:46 PM · Report this
blip 29
@28, I'm not getting that at all from his comments. There is a disparity between our response to the treatment of gays in Russia vs. that of other non-Western nations. It might be an uncomfortable truth to acknowledge but it's no less pressing of a human rights issue, and this is as good a space as any to bring it up. In many instances it's much worse than Russia.

This link I posted above is worth a few minutes of your time.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/saeedjones/76-co…
Posted by blip on September 6, 2013 at 7:35 PM · Report this
raindrop 30
@29: That is a good article. Thanks.
So Russia, is a catalyst for action then regardless of whether or not other countries have been protested.
Posted by raindrop on September 6, 2013 at 8:19 PM · Report this
31
@Danindowntown, *applause applause* nicely done.

Yep the fact that it is Russia is a former super power. lot to do with the response. That they are white and European helps too.

Jamaica and Uganda are not of the same status among nations.

In the ideal it is not justifiable that our response would be different.

So yeah nice job there. We need to be reminded of the many other countries doing the samething, that it will be a long hard slog, and likelihood of success in our lifetime is slim.

That said. Challenging Russia on this does help those other countries, indirectly and over the long term.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on September 6, 2013 at 9:10 PM · Report this
fletc3her 32
@4 You aren't paying attention. That's your problem. Not ours.

http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7958
Posted by fletc3her on September 6, 2013 at 9:52 PM · Report this
33
@23: I love the jab about comma use when your posts are similarly lacking them.

Ultimately, you are correct. A state condoning and encouraging violence against a minority population isn't Berlin 1933, it's November 9th, 1938.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on September 6, 2013 at 10:57 PM · Report this
34
@ concern troll
Uganda also attracted lots and lots of attention. The attention attracted to Russia right now is just more hysterical because Russia was kind of pretending to be a country that was largely European which implies it should have largely the same values. Russia also quite seriously wants to be a leader on the world arena (some here already think it is) which make its actions seem even more insane.
Posted by puddles on September 7, 2013 at 4:15 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 35
There seems to be a tendency in this country to deride any kind of protests as being either ineffective or too selective - since you didn't protest X, your protesting Y is invalid.,

To a certain extent, I understand that impulse. The massive protests leading up to the Bush wars were certainly ignored, and any protest you go to, regardless of the cause, almost certainly has its fringe elements and street theatre (giant puppets, drum circles, LaRouchians)

But if there were no protests, how would the Civil Rights movement fared? When would Viet Nam have ended? Would apartheid still be in place, funded by American institutions?

It's the same sort of thinking that holds labor unions to an impossible moral standard while ignoring the corruption and mis-management of the corporations that they stand in balance against. It's counter-productive to society and ultimately quite childish, like the broader Conservative movement.

So the LGBT "community" didn't react Uganda the same as they are to Russia. So what? So we are supposed to just not do anything now because we didn't do anything then? And we shouldn't protest anyway because it doesn't mean anything? What a docile mindset.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on September 7, 2013 at 6:29 AM · Report this
venomlash 36
Ooh, SLOG has acquired a new arrogant douchebag. Hwhy haylo thar, Dan In Downtown, you cockmongling queefburger.
Posted by venomlash on September 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
sissoucat 37
@36 My thoughts exactly.
Posted by sissoucat on September 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
38
I think it's just Seattleblues with a new alias.
Posted by Pope Buck I on September 7, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 39
28 - Raindrop, that was an excellent comment and analogy. Kudos.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on September 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
40
Wait, gays from Russia aren't already candidates for political asylum? Isn't gross persecution how we define those who are eligible for asylum?
Posted by DRF on September 7, 2013 at 7:53 PM · Report this
41
What about getting in touch with airlines that fly out of Russia but aren't based in Russia (British Airways, for example) and trying to get them to offer discounted tickets to LGBT families? It'll probably be easier for them to press for political asylum once they're actually in the countries that should be viable options.

And would an indigogo campaign to buy tickets and passports and the like be viable?

What else can we do to get these people the fuck out of there?
Posted by MiscKitty on September 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM · Report this
Skye Blu 42
Canada offers asylum, and they'll already be used to the cold.
Posted by Skye Blu on September 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 43
Can we allow gays who are in major danger to escape to friendly embassies until they are able to leave?
Posted by Pridge Wessea on September 8, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
44
I think gay people were upset about Uganda. Many people have become complacent on the issue. People are murdered in regions of Africa for what they might have on them daily, from what I've heard. There was the mass genocide in neighboring Rwanda in the 90's. I don't believe it is right. But, I think a lot of citizens in the US have become desensitized to violence when it comes to Africa, they have become synonymous through the media. There is also a decade long war further north. There was confusion on how to feel or proceed on the issue with African American politics and racism coming into play with the president and spotlighted in the media. People who would speak up, fell silent out of doubt and fear of where they stood and if their opinion was educated and mattered. Are racial and gay politics separate, can they coexist? There was complexity to the situation that left speakers complacent and afraid to speak. Russia is a different ball game. A lot of the people being affected are lesbians that moved or lived there, because the laws were not specific on adoption and same sex couples having children. Russian law has been progressive for gay domestic life, because it did not specify on same sex parenthood in the same way western laws did in the 90's. While gay men have received the brunt of Russian homophobia up until the last six years or so...what the country is currently doing is alarming, because it is back peddling and focusing on the gay community during an economic downturn and it is targeting domestic life. It is more involved with trade agreements and considered far more westernized then Uganda. I don't believe blaming the gay community for the confusion and increased concern over Russia in spite of Uganda is appropriate . Nor, do I believe the heart of this is racism on the part of the gay community....maybe government involvement and how the world treats Africa as a whole, but not how the gay community feels in regards to the gay citizens of Uganda.
More...
Posted by davidchipps on April 25, 2014 at 6:12 PM · Report this
45
I think gay people were upset about Uganda. Many people have become complacent on the issue. People are murdered in regions of Africa for what they might have on them daily, from what I've heard. There was the mass genocide in neighboring Rwanda in the 90's. I don't believe it is right. But, I think a lot of citizens in the US have become desensitized to violence when it comes to Africa, they have become synonymous through the media. There is also a decade long war further north. There was confusion on how to feel or proceed on the issue with African American politics and racism coming into play with the president and spotlighted in the media. People who would speak up, fell silent out of doubt and fear of where they stood and if their opinion was educated and mattered. Are racial and gay politics separate, can they coexist? There was complexity to the situation that left speakers complacent and afraid to speak. Russia is a different ball game. A lot of the people being affected are lesbians that moved or lived there, because the laws were not specific on adoption and same sex couples having children. Russian law has been progressive for gay domestic life, because it did not specify on same sex parenthood in the same way western laws did in the 90's. While gay men have received the brunt of Russian homophobia up until the last six years or so...what the country is currently doing is alarming, because it is back peddling and focusing on the gay community during an economic downturn and it is targeting domestic life. It is more involved with trade agreements and considered far more westernized then Uganda. I don't believe blaming the gay community for the confusion and increased concern over Russia in spite of Uganda is appropriate . Nor, do I believe the heart of this is racism on the part of the gay community....maybe government involvement and how the world treats Africa as a whole, but not how the gay community feels in regards to the gay citizens of Uganda.
More...
Posted by davidchipps on April 25, 2014 at 6:37 PM · Report this

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