Monday, July 22, 2013

"I Am Myself, Never Flinching"

“I will fight for my right to go to Russia. 
I will fight to perform there. I will fight to show 
the government how strong my community is. 
I will proudly go to Russia ... and hold my head high. 
Should I get arrested, I will be arrested with the pride 
that I am myself, never flinching, and I will be strong 
for the oppressed community of beautiful people 
who I can call brothers.” 

From Johnny’s powerful must-read for 
the Falls Church News-Press, in which he responds 
to all who have asked him about his love for Russia 
in the face of its government’s anti-LGBT crackdown. 

Exclusive photo © David Ingogly.
Please click twice for full-size image.

In the midst of today’s international hysteria over the impending arrival of Britain’s newest heir to its ancient throne (hey, I love Kate and William, but the idea of a monarchy in 2013 does seem slightly ridiculous.... UPDATE: Congrats!! It’s a boy!), another story is happening that takes us even farther back in time, to the Dark Ages that are currently happening in Russia, in which the first foreigners were detained under its draconian new law criminalizing LGBT “propaganda” — which, as Queerty notes, includes “simply being or appearing gay, or even just pro-gay.” The detainees were a group of visitors from the Netherlands, including Dutch LGBT activist Kris van der Veen, who were making a documentary about LGBT rights (or the lack of them) in Russia.

Fortunately it appears that the case has miraculously dissolved today under sudden and intense international scrutiny, according to on-site tweets from @OgonWatch (thanks to Tatiana Edrenkina for the link) and this update from Gay Star News. But the incident underscores Russia’s increasingly alarming and dangerous anti-LGBT crisis, in which politics and religion are super-creepy bedfellows. Just yesterday, in a move that threatens to wrest the Ultimate Grand Supreme Crown of Religious Crazy from current titleholder Westboro Baptist Church, Patriarch Kirill I, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared that marriage equality is a sign of the End Times.

This human-rights crisis is not going to go away, as Harvey Fierstein points out in his passionate New York Times piece published late last night. And he pleads for the rest of the world to not only pay attention, but to take strong action against Putin’s warped crusade. 

Opinions differ on what form that action should take. Fierstein favors boycotting the Sochi Olympics; Johnny and many others advocate showing up at them fiercely out and proud; still others demand that the International Olympic Committee just DO SOMETHING besides mouthing hollow phrases about how “the Games should be free of discrimination” — meaningless in this particular host country — and cautioning with an actual straight face that Russia’s “legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented.”

I believe we just saw that.

One ingenious suggestion: snatch the 2014 Olympics out of Putin’s grasp immediately and hand them back to Vancouver. I love that idea on all kinds of levels...

In the meantime: As the crisis grows and the world awaits definitive action from the IOC (don’t hold your breath) or other countries’ political leaders, one of the best things we LGBT supporters can do is stay informed and be part of the intense focus — like the sun’s rays directed through a magnifying glass onto an insect — that helped today’s Russian court action devolve into farce, as Tatiana termed it.

Putin’s counting on being able to escalate his persecution of LGBT people in the darkness of our ignorance or indifference.

Let’s surprise him with the unrelenting, glaring spotlight of the world’s attention.

UPDATE: For visuals that drive the point home, please visit BuzzFeed’s gallery, “36 Photos From Russia That Everyone Needs To See,” which ends with these questions: “Russia is hosting the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi. What does this mean for gay athletes and spectators? Is the US Olympic Committee okay with this?”

And for the opposite view from Fierstein’s, in an echo of Johnny’s point: “LGBT Olympians And Allies Should Show Up In Russia,” also extremely well-articulated and powerful. But it is predicated on the assumption that Russia would not risk harassing or arresting an out Olympian at the Games, or his/her family/friends. I’m not sure how safe an assumption that is, given Johnny’s experience the last time he was in Russia—which was before any of the new anti-LGBT laws had even been enacted.

Johnny’s courageous words and the metaphor of the spotlight reminded me of this series of black-and-white photos that Davey took of Johnny at rehearsal, running through his Army of Me program.

This is one of my all-time favorite series ever.

There are more than 50 shots, but seeing them all at once is almost overpowering; you want to savor each one, but you’re already scrolling on to the next. And so to that end, they’ll be presented here in smaller groups, to offer time and space to linger over them... and perhaps to consider what it means to be in the spotlight, fighting to live your truth, to be who you are in the face of misunderstanding, oppression, and persecution — to be, unflinchingly, your own army.

As always, please click any photo twice to open the full-size image in another window. 

Exclusive photos © David Ingogly.

Discrimination is something held behind 
the eyes of the ignorant. 
Hatred is a skill taught by others. 
Life is a gift worth living, no matter the cost. 
Pray for our friends in Russia that one day, 
they will all be free.

And from our WTAF Dept. 

(I can’t even bear to embed it here. Just click the link.)


Irritated Johnny fans now scouring the Internet for video...

UPDATE: Clip here. Footage in the all-black 
costume is Swan Lake SP. OK then.

Exclusive photos © David Ingogly.

ICYMI: Enjoy Anastasia Pryanikova’s on-site report 
of Johnny’s performances in Sun Valley! 
With fab practice clips, including this one: 
 Johnny’s stunning triple axel.
Video link.

ICYMI in all the Japan excitement: 
Queer Montreal released two videos and an article 
about Johnny last week!
Video link.

Accompanying wonderful article 
on the Tourisme Montreal blog:
“You can see on his face that the joy of skating 
is something found in his DNA...”
Video link.

Please alert absolutely everyone you’ve ever met 
to “like” and follow the new 
on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
Because he should be on all the things. 
With or without ice. 
But definitely with Viacheslav.

Landing quads and kicking ass!
Read his comeback statement 
and the update on his website!

Please click to vote for Johnny 
once a day as “Best Sportsman”
Because he retweeted Luisa Lotka 
to tell us he wants us to! 

Need to see Seasons 1 and 2 all over again? 
Watch episodes online anytime on Logo!
Please be sure to check in with GetGlue
anytime you’re watching the show... 
or thinking about watching the show.... 
or wishing you were watching the show....

At last: Pop Star On Ice is now available on DVD!
Order yours today from the Pop Star On Ice website!

Johnny tweeted:
“Buy my single,’Dirty Love’ via iTunes.
Tell all your friends to as well. The more copies sold
takes me one step closer to making a video! №1!”

You know what to do.
Please buy the song from Johnny’s website,
or just click the “Buy” button on the player
at the top of the blog!

Hey, Welcome to My World also is available
as an eBook! More info on Johnny’s website!

copyright 2013 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved

1 comment:

aaaack said...

I hope that Johnny wins a slot to go to Sochi. There, he will perform so entrancingly that he wins gold and every guy in Russia will start wondering if they have suddenly become gay. At which point, the entire nation will decide that being LGBT is not so alien and will get rid of their ridiculous anti-LGBT laws. One can always hope.