by Chris Bodenner
A reader sends a “great image to add to the thread”:
It’s a WWII-era Soviet propaganda poster commemorating the Soviet occupation of Western Belarus, liberating the region from Poland as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The image you see is being played completely straight, so to speak; Stalinist propaganda in 1939 was NOT the place to be subversive.
To the reader who said that Russia was until recently less homophobic society than America … wow. I will defer to his personal experience, but then I should share my own, because I wonder how much of his is Moscow-based (and if it’s just Moscow, the apt comparison would be NYC, not “America”.)
I’m straight, but on occasion I went to the one semi-underground gay bar that any of my gay-heavy, Western European circle of friends could find in St. Petersburg in 2002. (This is the country’s second city, mind you.) Two years later I taught HIV/AIDS education in the capital of one of the wealthiest Russian provinces, and the open and vitriolic homophobia displayed by the high school and college kids was intense. I was back there for many months in ’07 and it hadn’t disappeared. All my Russian friends were well-educated: doctors, journalists, judges, etc. The level of homophobia on display was, again, intense.
Maybe Moscow’s different; I wouldn’t know. But I can certainly say that my experiences in the provinces and Petersburg don’t match up with your reader’s.