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(en) Russia, Moscow Pride* 2006

Date Sat, 04 Feb 2006 18:28:35 +0200


Thoughts on Moscow Pride
"Moscow Pride '06 - First Russian International Gay & Lesbian Festival" is
planned to take place from 24th to 28th of May 2006. Program planned this
far includes day of Scandinavian homoculture with seminars and
exhibitions, conference on Oscar Wilde (with participation of his
granddaughter), first international conference on International Day Against
Homophobia, cultural program and what has raised most public controversy -
1st LGBT Moscow Pride parade, to happen 27th of May which is 13th
anniversary of excluding criminal proceedings for homosexuality from Russian
criminal codex.

Festival was initiated in May of 2005 by project GayRussia.ru, first of all
by its founder, jurist and author Nikolai Alekseev. He is author of first
Russian book on legal aspects of homosexuality, but basically comes from
outside established gay NGO and business elite - which is one of the reasons
why announcement on organization of Moscow pride has aroused much
controversy not only in the mainstream, but also inside gay and lesbian
community itself.

Outrage

As for the mainstream and national radical fringe (which are sometimes hard
to separate), as early as 15th of October a demonstration of a coalition of
left and right fascists including NBP and Eurasian Union of Youth in
Krasnodar against Moscow pride was dispersed by police, it was declared
illegal for formal reasons by regional authorities. Motivations of this ban
are unclear, but Krasnodar area is not famous for its tolerance of
oppositional activities. There have been too many mainstream politicians and
church authorities to appeal against gay parade to list them here -
(lifelong ?) Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov already 2001 declared, that such
event "will never take place in Moscow". Recently an "apolitical" Live
Journal community was set up to combat festival.

As for LGBT (Lesbo, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, website
www.gayclub.ru published an appeal "Please do not give up to provocation",
in which Alekseev was accused of adventurism, and of compromising both
security of participators of the event and "peaceful development of
democracy and tolerance in Russia". Appeal was subscribed by eight leaders
and administrators of some of the most prominent LGBT media in Russia.
Having reconsidered her opinion, redactor of leading Lesbian portal
lesbiru.com "VolgaVolga" eventually announced withdrawal of her signature
from the petition, and her support for Moscow Pride '06.
Due to scale of the moral panic, LGBT issues have gained more publicity than
for years. Since social issues have become main lectionary tool for
patriotic left and right, it is no way they may attack such usual scapegoats
as people dependent on income transfers or workers' organizations. Instead,
it must appeal to "conservative" mood of the masses - against illegal
immigrants and sexual orientations not considered as a norm. Meanwhile,
various rights of individual human beings have become concern of liberal
intelligentsia of the big cities exclusively, political representatives of
which have no any concern whatsoever about well-being of vast majority of
the people.

Progress takes it all

We may not put down concerns of the "moderate queer establishment"
altogether - nobody wants to have a brick to ones forehead. Obviously, it is
also not up for libertarian communists to declare how homosexuals should
organize their struggle - as sexual and political orientation correlate a
little, there are probably no more homosexuals among anarchists than among
liberals, fascists or Russian Orthodox Church. But judging from the
declarations in various queer sites, "queer self-organization" as it exists
now seems hardly a much more appealing idea.

It is a bitter struggle going on about right to "represent" LGBT community,

and although Alekseev's venture seems to be a bit less of a grant
eating/business venture than "gay.ru" and Kvir (queer) magazine of gay
business mogul Ed Mishin, politically GayRussia.ru it is hardly more close
to anti-authoritarian ideas than to projects of Mishin, who is a vocal
opponent of Moscow Pride.

Article "Gay Pride march in Moscow will go under watchful eye of the
international community" is a sort of eye-opener on positions of
GayRussia.ru. Here G8 chairmanship of Russia is understood as the final
triumph of progress and democracy in this backward barbarian land. When only
last corner of the world is integrated to the capitalist megamachine, we
will be living in a paradise where anybody may consume products according to
their sexual orientation, establish a business selling escort services or
Lesbian horoscopes and make it to the big league.

In the so-called Western world, capitalist values are so widely established
that you hardly have to worry about extreme materialistic aspects of the gay
mainstream, since the poison is all around the rest of the society as well.
As gay and lesbian parades raise little opposition there,
anti-authoritarians often ignore them altogether or to organize their own
alternative anti-capitalist queer events. But in Russia, it is all too clear
that this is exactly where national-patriotic forces are directing their
attack, and there are all too few people fighting back for us to desert this
struggle.

Power in the darkness

For me, anarchism means intervention to social struggles, not comfortable
isolation from which you may judge everyone not fitting your narrow
principles. We are not pure idealists, movements do not born out from
abstract ideas, but in a framework of certain objective conditions. Instead
of a condemnation, we should make an analysis of the problem and attempt to
change the situation. As it was middle and upper class homosexuals who first
struggled themselves emancipation in Russia, it is no surprise that
currently existing LGBT movement reflects capitalistic values of these
classes. As far as private life goes, with money you may have any rights
whatsoever in Russia (even those nobody should have), and you may only end
up to problems if your ambitions go beyond private - this is what happened
to Hodorkovsky.

So it is a moment of truth for the anarchist movement in Russia, since this
far, besides few exceptions, its contribution to struggle against homophobia
has been nothing more than few declarations and articles. Immediately when
it is time to take a real stance, twisting of hands begins - we hear about
"priorities" and "bourgeois gay mafia" hijacking ballet and other fields of
entertainment business. But as we dig deeper, we find out that argument for
passivity is nothing but fear - that for support to gay emancipation
imprisoned anarchists will be demoted to lowest cast of the prison
hierarchy, that of "roosters" - passive homosexuals.

It also must be said that one openly bisexual and anarchist declared, that
he wants to have nothing to do with this "bourgeois event" - so big are the
divisions. But whatever the disagreements we have, organizers who have
already landed to the epicenter of the scandal must be given a due respect.
And as for fear of the counter-demonstration, I believe skeptics have made
wrong conclusions from the first negative experiences from Latvia and
Poland - as it only becomes clear that queers are not afraid to make it to
the streets, in few years counter-demonstrations will just fade away because
opponents will understand that currently they have no means to interfere
peoples' private lives anyway. First pride will always be the most difficult
one.

Problem of representation

Fortunately there are also some voices of reason even amongst the visible
people of the LGBT community - Alekseev claims he does not want to set up
any new organization, but instead to run single projects without major
fundraising. Known lesbian activist "VolgaVolga" attacks against
grant-eating and talks openly on many other aspects of ugly power struggle
inside the movement in her article "Abroad will help us, or please help
homeless lesbian children of lieutenant Schmidt" published in lesbicom.ru. B
ut still, instead of revolutionary movement lead by nobody, "VolgaVolga"
proposes us a boredom of "an organized movement with united program,
strategy and democratic principles of governance" where "no power nor money
comes without responsibility", in spirit of Communist Party of the Soviet
Union!

It is no doubt, that a movement with interests common enough may well profit
from a formal organization (and just as often such an organization may
become a hindrance). But gay boss may never have a common material interest
with a gay worker, and by uncritical rallying for market liberal values gay
NGO jet-set is pissing on vast majority of Russian homosexuals, who are
living in a closet in some distant Ust-Ryupinsk, and for whom immediate
survival is just as important as sexual liberties.

Of course, to some extent same controversy of interest exists between
heterosexual and queer wage slaves. And while unlike bosses, heterosexual
workers do not get any immediate benefit from exploiting homosexual workers,
we must be very beware of falling to any trap of priorities - every human
being has his individual aspirations and demands, thus none of them may be a
priori considered as having priority over the rest. For one queer worker,
her/his sexual rights are much more actual question than wage slavery, for
another it is vice versa, third does not want to make a choice between these
and for fourth main thing is something completely different. Representation
is harmful and dangerous especially because it makes these differences obscure,
and in case of one issue organizations, creates a mediating structure that
adopts all other ills of this overall sick society. Such organizations are
reaching for acceptance by abolishing everything that is so valuable in
uncompromising oppositional stance - they create "respectful image", "raise
funds from business", talk in language of laws and power and shamelessly
call state to suppress their political opponents.

As it is getting more and more obvious that environment may not
sustain capitalist wreckage forever, system has to continuously rejustify
its existence. Recuperation is the process by which "radical" ideas and
images are commodified and incorporated within mainstream society -
eventually this only makes system more stronger. Recuperation has become
lifeline of the capitalism - this is why Condoleezza Rice was shedding
crocodile tears for suffering of women in Afghanistan. We do not want to put
down plight of women or queers in countries ruled by religious
fundamentalism, but concern of Western liberal politicians is pretty
hypocritical given their eagerness to bomb these same people whenever it is
benefical and opportunity arises. Rights of national, racial and sexual
minorities are becoming corner-stones of the capitalist system, which
justify waging war all around the planet. No pioneer of these rights could
have ever expected such a travesty!

According to anti-politics.net website, "anti-politics is a revolutionary
practice that eschews the political role of the activist, militant or
leftist. This means not attempting to represent others or claim a
constituency. It means struggling in the tension between the consciously
revolutionary and the dispossessed in general in order to overcome it,
instead of reinforcing that separation. It means the struggle to steal back
the power that we have been dispossessed of, our power to create our lives,
instead of politically petitioning the state to act in our name."

And I say, we do not need better leaders for LGBT movement, no anarchists
infiltrating and taking over this movement, nor an anti-authoritarian queer
ghetto in spirit of Berlin or Stockholm which would be even more
marginalized than either LGBT or anarchist movement is in Russia. I think we
need a truly anti-political queer movement that rejects all representation
and recuperation and is able to question any categorizations of sex, sexual
and political orientation whatsoever.

S2W

Registration form for Moscow Pride '06

http://gayrussia.ru/en/anketa.php

Gay Pride march in Moscow will go under watchful eye of the international
community

http://gayrussia.ru/en/actions/detail.php?ID=3254

(For links to referred articles that only exist in Russian language, see
Russian version of this article).

Written for next issue of Abolishing the anarchists journal
Borders from Below and avtonom.org website.
It is possible we will call an international mobilization for this event.
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