Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Multimedia Roundup

I love my community and the Russian nation, and 
that is why I have taken the steps I believe will be most helpful, 
whether you agree with me or not. I urge everyone to fight for 
your own beliefs. Just because I believe in an anti-boycott and 
because I believe in an LGBT-friendly presence in Russia 
doesn’t mean you have to, nor do I push you to believe something 
simply because I say it. Fight for your own beliefs, and fight hard, 
and eventually someone’s initiative will be the one that works. 
Use your time fighting the problem, 
not fighting an opposing opinion.

From his latest column for the Falls Church News-Press:
The Gaylympics, Part 4.” Please read it if you haven’t yet. 
Articulate and unwavering, as always, 
and so gracious to people who have 
disagreed with him so gracelessly.

Classic photo from Be Good Johnny Weir 
making the rounds again as Johnny is in demand 
across media outlets from radio to Russian sites.

OK! Real life reared its irritating little head at me last week and got in the way of blogging (hate when that happens), so we’re catching up today with all the excitement that has transpired recently. Let’s kick off with some of the latest Johnny media:

BuzzFeed: Who To Watch As Sochi Approaches.

First name on the list: Johnny Weir

Whether or not he actually skates in Sochi, Weir ... more than any other athlete in the world right now, has the chance to become the primary face and voice of the LGBT rights movement on the ground as the Games are in progress.

Second name: Nikolai Alexeyev. (But... see below.)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Gay Athletes Mull How To Take A Stand In Sochi

[Weir] told RFE/RL that he did not plan to wear a pin or wave a flag, but said his presence in Sochi was a statement in itself. [Because he’s LITERALLY propaganda, for all who aren’t quite getting his point. When you’re Johnny Weir—especially in Russia, where he’s known everywhere as openly gay and where his marriage to a Russian-American man was front-page news—a rainbow pin would simply render him overdressed for the occasion.]

“As far as outward displays, should I be competing in the Olympics, my husband, his entire family, and my entire family will be there as a unit, supporting me — and I think that that is a beautiful statement to make,” he said. “For an immigrant Russian family living in the United States to support their gay son’s husband, it’s something very modern and something very new, and it’s definitely a statement.”

Esquire: The IOC Wants None Of Those Pesky Civil Rights At The Olympics

[W]ith the IOC de facto lined up with lifetime ACLU member Vladimir Putin and his street thugs, a boycott makes even less sense, and showing up and standing up even more of a moral imperative. ... Have so many people demonstrating in so many ways that the IOC and the Russians can’t keep up. ... Make a spectacle out of the spectacle. If our values are universal, then the demonstration of them cannot stop at the water’s edge. Hell, let Johnny Weir carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony.

My favorite piece, from Australian media: 6 of 10 Things: US Figure Skater Johnny Weir Refuses to Be Not-Gay in Russia for the Winter Olympics

Here’s the entire blurb:

Speaking of Russia, with the International Olympics Commission whistling nervously and changing the subject whenever people ask “so, Russia’s threat to jail anyone being openly gay at the Winter Olympics: sounds a bit humany-rightsy-abusey and against the charter of the Games themselves, wouldn’t you say?” and “any thoughts on how to protect the gay athletes that are attending the Games, what with the being illegally gay and all?”, a bunch of them have decided to call bullshit on the whole thing. Like US figure skater Johnny Weir, who is looking forward to competing (“Would the Olympics be in Saudi Arabia, in Palestine, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Mars, I would go because that’s what I’m trained to do and that’s what I’ve devoted my life to”), and has absolutely zero intention of pretending that he’s into chicks while he’s there. “Like anyone I’m afraid of being arrested but also I’m not afraid of being arrested,” he told CBS news. “If it takes me getting arrested for people to pay attention and for people to lobby against this law then I’m willing to take it.” Your move, Russia.

Johnny on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts.
Link to full story and video.

Photo tweeted by Thomas Roberts: 
“The full outfit of @JohnnyGWeir 
@msnbc today. #summershortshorts”

Photo tweeted by Victor: 
“With news anchor @thomasaroberts & @johnnygweir 
on @nbc @msnbc #PowerGays #sochi #
antigaylaws #olympics #Russia”

Photo tweeted by Thomas Roberts: 
“Big thanks to @johnnygweir & @vweirvoronov 
for dropping in today.”

Johnny’s appearance on CBC News.
Link to full story and video.

Photo tweeted by Johnny: 
“Filming for @cbcnews. 
#30Rock @ NBCUniversal”

Photo tweeted by Brian Latimer: 
“This just happened. Three cheers for a 
#RainbowOlympics! @johnnygweir 
Thanks for being so you.…”

ABC Grandstand episode fromAustralia: 
Openly gay Olympian Matthew Mitcham 
(love him) speaks out against a Sochi boycott, 
and calls Johnny “very very brave.”

Johnny makes the Yahoo home page 
with this article.

Yes, we’re still talking about this.

As Johnny wrote in his latest column, “This is a topic that just won’t quit.” But that’s actually a good thing, as this truly excellent but heartbreaking HuffPo post, “Growing Up Gay in Russia,” points out:

So how can Americans help? In so many ways, but they all come down to keeping this issue in the public consciousness. 
Don’t stop talking about gays in Russia. Don’t stop thinking about gays in Russia. Talk to your friends, write about it, tweet about it, Facebook-post about it. If you have Russian friends, bring it up to them. Absolutely call your senators and the State Department and tell them that you are concerned about the situation in Russia and that something needs to be done. One thing about the Russian elite, even the most backward of bigots, is their universal aspiration to be considered civilized, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan. They want to be respected and taken seriously. If Russian officials involved in passing the anti-gay laws or spreading homophobic propaganda are banned from entering the U.S. and officially labeled human-rights violators, they will be extremely upset (even if they claim otherwise).

Which is why this petition advocated by well-known (or infamous, depending on your perspective, and definitely controversial) Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev is so important: It strikes at the ego-laden hearts of two of the Russian politicians, Elena Mizulina and Vitaly Milonov, responsible for the “gay propaganda” law. Dan Savage got on board with it last week and tweeted the link.

For his part, Nikolai is now at the center of a firestorm that developed over the weekend in response to bizarre posts assumed to be his on his Facebook page (suddenly deactivated as of Sunday evening) and Twitter account, though some have grown concerned that he was hacked. Interestingly, his Instagram account shows only happy photos posted on Sunday that seemed blissfully unrelated to the implosion happening on his FB and Twitter.

As of this writing, I personally am #NotClearOn what the truth is here, though in my opinion the most likely scenario is that Nikolai was not hacked and the posts are indeed his own. Which, if true, is disappointing and does a huge disservice to all involved. 

While we await clarification with genuine concern for his well-being (he’s apparently been tweeting today, so there’s that), these two articles offer some history/context. Please be aware that while these shed some light on feuds within the Russian activist community, they are opinion pieces:

Did Russian Activist Nikolai Alekseev Fall Off His Throne?

Hack or Hoax? – Has Gay Russian Activist Nikolai Alexeyev Been Hacked Or Just Gone Mad?

Nikolai is the founder of Gay Russia. More info in this profile of the Russian LGBT movement.

UPDATE: From Patrick Burke’s latest interview: You Can Play Founder Opposes Olympic Boycott:

“A boycott won’t change anything. It’s not like the Russians are going to say: ‘You are right—these laws are terrible.’ The laws are going to remain in place if there is a boycott,” Burke told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s going to be a two-day story, maybe a week, if there is a boycott. But if we go, and then we have athletes and people talking about this on a daily basis for three straight weeks, it’s way more valuable to the LGBT community.”

Russian groups in Russia, like the Russian LGBT Network, seem to be at odds with ex-pat groups like RUSA LGBT and Queer NationNY, who are outside Russia and strongly advocate boycotting or moving the Games. The ex-pats’ ideas are endorsed by big names like Stephen Fry, George Takei, and Harvey Fierstein, while LGBTs in Russia declare adamantly that they DO NOT WANT the Games boycotted/moved.

Several recent articles have addressed this conflict:

Why Do Activists Reject Russian LGBT Strategy for Olympics? 
Six months before the scheduled start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, opponents of Russia’s crackdown on LGBT people find themselves sharply divided over how to proceed.

Boycott the Sochi games?  Move the games elsewhere?

Or do what many Russian LGBT activists propose — take part in the Sochi games and protest there against all anti-gay laws, especially Russia’s?

LGBT activists in Russia have asked that the games proceed and be used as an opportunity to advocate for change for “LGBT people and allies everywhere.”

LGBT Groups: Don’t “Retreat” from Olympics, “Speak Up” in Solidarity
At least five international LGBT groups say they oppose a boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in Russia over that country’s anti-gay laws. ... Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), issued a statement opposing a boycott. ...“We are following the lead of the Russian LGBT Network, which issued a statement urging all those who are concerned to “speak up, not walk out” of the Sochi Olympics,” said Stern.

On Stephen Fry’s Letter and Russia: The Oppression Olympics.
Perhaps most interesting about the boycott demands is their overlooking Russian LGBT wishes. Two weeks ago, the Russian LGBT Network stated ‘the Olympic Games are a unique and powerful occasion for individuals, organizations, diplomatic missions, and governments to come together and voice, in tune with the Olympic ideals, the ideas of human rights, freedoms, equality and justice – regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. … The Olympics in Sochi should … demonstrate to everyone who is watching that the greatest athletes stand strong with their LGBT competitors and partners, out or closeted, and that together they stand strong with LGBT people and allies everywhere.’ Fry states that because he once visited St. Petersburg he knows whereof he speaks; why then does he ignore the statements of activists like Nikolay Alexeyev (a lawyer and journalist, by no means a fringe insurrectionary), who’ve called publicly for marches during the Games ‘to attract the maximum attention to the rights violations’?

Their argument makes sense. 
If Sochi hosts the games, it will find itself – as will the Russian government – scrutinised around the globe. ... On the other hand, what will happen if the Olympics pass over Russia, as every Olympiad has since 1980 - and what will queer and trans* Russians have gained? Along with their victimisation, they’ll be erased from multinational attention just as Putin’s regime seeks to erase them from public space, and pro-boycott arguments including Fry’s exclude them from the conversation.

Sticking It to Sochi: Russian LGBT Activists on What Works. This article seems to include only ex-pats’ views and gives little voice to those actually still in Russia. Although on the plus side, it includes a link to the petition.

Finally: Russian Homosexuality. An interesting piece that highlights why Westerners don’t always understand what Russian LGBT activists want or how they feel.

In any case, the crisis surrounding Russia’s “gay propaganda” law is deeply complex and calls for a multi-pronged approach to address it and effect change, the ultimate goal being to repeal the law. As countless voices are added to the debate, I think Johnny’s quote above is very wise. 

He also wrote: 

My love of Russia in no way overshadows my will to see equality and justice for all LGBT people. ...  [D]on’t forget who we’re fighting for.

Today’s reading list:

Why Russia Turned Against The Gays—some historical context and background to try to make sense of Putin’s chilling agenda.
The first red flag to the international community should have been when Russian officials rejected ... application for an LGBT Pride House in the Olympic village. ... The Russian government said the Pride House was rejected because it would have violated Sochi’s own “homosexual propaganda” law, which was already established before the nationwide ban was approved this summer.
The IOC’s demand that gay people remain functionally closeted during the games can only make matters worse. The committee has essentially accused openly gay people of “demonstrating” their sexuality as “propaganda” just by being gay—perfectly mirroring Russia’s new law. That’s not a solution. It’s the exact kind of homophobic thinking that got us here in the first place.
Pride House International, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sports and human rights groups, has launched a campaign that calls for athletes, spectators, coaches and attendees at the 2014 Olympic games to hold hands in response to Russia’s violence and legislation targeting the LGBT community.

The act of same-sex hand holding will, beyond a symbolic gesture of unity and opposition, directly violate Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law.

I kind of love this idea.

T0day in irony.
Photo tweeted by Johnny: 
Via @sochi2014. Beautiful lights at Iceberg Skating Palace.
 Fitting that the beauty is a rainbow.”

Today in humor.
Propaganda. Starring Putin. Some of it NSFW. 
All of it hilarious—or as hilarious as it can be under 
the circumstances. But humor is a powerful weapon...
Visit Putin a Rainbow Tumblr for more. 
(See also: @GayPutin on Twitter.)

Today in awesome.
Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro 
painted her nails in rainbow colors before competing 
in the IAAF championships in Moscow, hashtagging her
Instagram post with #pride and #moscow2013. 
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva immediately outed herself 
as a homophobe in criticizing Tregaro’s LGBT support.
Emma was later forced to repaint her nails.

UPDATE: Today in awesome II.

Bonus pics/vid!! Photo posted by Victor: 
“Sunday Brunch at Bagatelle 
@prncessjax210 @johnnygweir #Christa”

Photo posted by Jackie: 
“Sunday brunch @xstagee 
@johnnygweir @vweirvoronov”

Photo posted by Jackie: 
“Sundays...sigh #JohnnysBirkin 

Photo tweeted by Johnny: 
“This is what Sunday Brunch SHOULD look like! 
Starring xstagee ! @ Bagatelle New York”

UPDATE: Photo posted by Jackie: 
“Fiercest brunch face ever @johnnygweir 
#Birkin #orangina”

Video tweeted by Johnny: 

Photo tweeted by Victor: 
“I love Sundays 
and I love @JohnnyGWeir
(Love this so much. 
Not enough hearts in the world to cover it.)

Please check out Johnny’s Instagram 
and Victor’s Instagram for amazing videos 
of their evening at Trapeze School New York!

Coming up: 
Special photo essay featuring all-new 
exclusive black-and-white pics.

See Johnny perform in Sun Valley 
Click here for tickets and more info. 
Always a spectacular show and not to be missed!

Please continue to contribute to the newly established 
Johnny & Victor Weir-Voronov 
Scholarship Fund for LGBTQ Youth
also administered by the Delaware Valley 
Legacy Fund. The DVLF is the nonprofit 
organization who recently honored Johnny 

Quiet photo essay of exclusive black-and-white pics 
paired with Johnny’s quotes from his 
Exclusive photo © David Ingogly.

Johnny’s latest column for the 
Falls Church News-Press.
His columns are published every Thursday 
in the “National Commentary“ 
section—don’t miss a single one! 

updated calendars, in case you missed out on buying yours 
in January! The new 12-month version runs from 
July 2013 to June 2014, while the 18-month version takes you 
from July 2013 all the way to December 2014.

A number of Johnny’s auction items have been relisted
which means if you missed out the first time around, 
you’re in luck: It’s not too late to own a piece of Weir Gear! 
Go check it out and see what treasures you could take home!

Patti has posted a message 
on Johnny’s Comeback Gift Fund website, 
with her thoughts on 2013 Nationals 
and what lies ahead for next season. 
Please go read it now!

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


aaaack said...

Thanks for pulling all this together, Binky. Frankly, I'm exhausted by all this Russian anti-gay laws and physically hurtful drama of LGBT being beaten up (which is a real turn-off that shows the ugly underbelly of Russian society). All this makes me never want to visit Russia as a tourist. Plus, I reject any form of exceptionalism for any country, religion, or politics. People are people, and love is love.

Russia is harming its own image greatly. Whatever modern and influential impression Russia has been trying to make with Sochi has already been dragged into the mud via its anti-LGBT laws. Backwards treatment of human beings means a backwards image that you cannot rescue with any or all other aspects of your civilization (art, architecture, science, etc.).

By the way, I remain a twitter fan of An Weiwei and am more impressed with his artistry and courage than with the grandiosity of the Peking Olympics.

I take this anti-LGBT Russian legislation personally, as I not only have LGBT friends (at least one of each variety of the first three letters) but also have a relative three relationships removed who was likely a closeted gay (he committed suicide and the clan has been deeply shaken up ever since).

WheresMyKoppy said...

I'm glad to see people like Matthew Mitcham (love him also) and Greg Louganis are supporting Johnny's position. I love George Takei, but he is advocating moving the Sochi Olympics to Canada. And I just don't think that's the way to go.

I supported the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics; but in general I am not a big supporter of boycotts. I even wrote a blog a couple years ago titled 'Why I Don't Support Boycotts'. I could update it to fit this situation if I had the time. One of the things I said is that boycotts always hurt the little people, or those who have no control over anything or way to change things. They seldom accomplish what they were intended to accomplish. And in this case, they are counter to what the activists on the ground in Russia want to do. I hope the Olympics come off, and I hope Johnny is there competing, and I hope the athletes can show to the world they support the LGBT community in Russia. Demonstrations during the Olympics will bring the situation to a wider audience, but I just don't want anyone to get hurt.

I worry for friends we all know in Russia, and I worry for those we don't know in person. I am sad this is happening in a country like Russia. I keep wondering what century we are living in.

Thanks for putting this all together MM, and thank you very much for the update on Nikolai.