Russia’s Neo-Nazi Homophobia

I don’t keep up with politics and current events as often as I should. Though I’ve been aware that Russia has serious human rights issues going on with homophobia, I had no idea that it was as bad as it is. I thought I package it neatly in my mind under the vague umbrella term of human rights issues and that because I didn’t see it happening that it couldn’t be so terrible. I am incredibly naive at times and still need to check myself and my privilege far more often than I currently do.

A friend of mine posted this link on facebook from The Gaily Grind complete with videos of a Russian Neo-Nazi group torturing a teenage gay man.

Here is the video. I have not watched it yet because just reading the article made me sit down and cry and I know I do not have the stomach to watch this violence. But I also know that it is important to do so in order that we are all shocked awake from our day dreams of a progressive world where bigotry and hatred are small nuisances, existing on the frames of our conscious minds.

We have a long way to go in human rights and I feel that no matter what I say, nothing will sum up this atrocity. Especially because it is not the only case of torturing LGBTQ people and it is being treated as commonplace in Russia! The Neo-Nazis who recorded this video are not being punished or taken in by the police. Public opinion supports their monstrous behavior.

The Gaily Grind’s article posted above reports that:

A recent poll by Pew Research Center found that three out of every four Russians say society should not accept homosexuality. The percentage of those who think homosexuality should be accepted dropped 4% since 2007, from 20% to 16%.

In March, Levada Public Opinion Center reported that 85 percent of Russian adults said they were strongly against a law that would allow same-sex marriage. They also found that supporters of same-sex marriage in Russia fell from 14% to just 5% over the past three years. On the other side of the spectrum, some expressed strong opposition to homosexuality: 16 percent of those polled suggested that homosexuals should be isolated from society, 22 percent said that the treatment of homosexuality must be made compulsory, and 5 percent said that homosexuals should be ‘exterminated.’

I read this and I cried. What can be said about this? What can possibly describe the horror and hate we turn a blind eye to because we don’t want to see the great evil people are capable of? I don’t have the words! Maybe I’ll have the words someday, but right now all I can think of is how it is easy to pretend that because such hatred does not exist as blatantly in America that it does not exist. But hatred is hatred and there is no way to quantify it.

I was on the phone with my brother when I found this article. I paused in our conversation and told him that I was reading an article on how a gay teenager was tortured to death in Russia and if I was quiet for a few moments that was the reason. My brother told me that if I needed to go, then I should go. It hurt that he didn’t offer up an opinion. It hurt that he felt that if I just had a few moments to collect myself then I would be alright and that our conversation wasn’t truly muddled with death or stained with reality far beyond our mindless conversation of Pokemon games.

There are no words I know to describe this hurt I felt because hurt is too simple. I don’t have the words, but I need to share this article, this video and my story with finding out this information with anyone who will listen because someone will have the words. Someone will be able to describe why torturing someone for his or her sexual orientation is wrong and how it stems off from something as simple as gay slurs and other minor forms of hate speech. Hate is hate is hate the same way love is love is love. Even if I don’t have the words someone else will.

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Dear America…

I was fortunate enough to spend the other day with my room mate reading me poetry by Allen Ginsberg. His poetry is phenomenal and writing as a queer communist in America during the 1950s you can only imagine how banned his books were and how influential.

If you haven’t heard of his poem “America”, you can read the full poem here.

It is so amazing that he addresses America as if the country is a person who is accountable for his or her actions. This is a radical concept and one I’m amazed more people haven’t adopted. One of my best friends has questioned me about my loyalty to America and what I think America means: do I support the idea of America? the literal place?

What am I attached to?

Reading Ginsberg prompted me to write a freewrite of uncensored thoughts of what I would say to America if the country were a person and not an abstract idea. Especially in light of the NSA spying, Americans need to find their voices even more.

Please join me sharing your uncensored thoughts by writing a freewrite titled “Dear America”. A freewrite is where you write constantly for a set period of time-say five minutes-without stopping to think or censor your thoughts but see where they take you.

Here is my freewrite letter to America, exactly how I hand wrote it:

Dear America

Why do you oppress us? Why do you oppress those who stand for freedom and democracy and believe they are worth more than order?

How can you bury us under packages of meat, packages of disease marked as food, labeled as toys or beauty products? The elusive health care.

You bury us under packages and then package us into boxes. The blacks. The whites. The gays. The lesbians. When you can, spare the postage stamp to send us on our way as poster children.

The children of America. The brainwashed, the ignorant.

Able and disabled. You love hierarchies masqueraded under change. Your puppet president Obama has turned “yes we can” into a war cry of inaction.

And that is what you want, America. You want us to suffocate in our packaging and be reborn as true American citizens: the ones who matter.

Straight. White. Cisgender. Rich. Men.

And then in a feast of gluttony you feast on those who did not make the cut.

For shame, America. For shame. But what can I do? I wag my finger, I scream on the page, and you, my country are strong.

You swell with pride when I say those words: my country.

But here’s the thing, America, I own you. We own you. And you, my dear, are in our hands.

Rip open the packaging and see the hand that feeds you. Because it might not be white, straight, cisgender or male. Rip open the packaging and see.