A Conversation With Masha Gessen


For our latest Deep Dish podcast, I sat down and chatted with Masha Gessen, whose work I’ve read, admired and even edited over the years.  Masha’s books include The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and, most recently, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. Our politics are somewhat different, but it’s impossible not to admire her long coverage of Russia, where she was born and grew up, where she immigrated again as an adult, and whence she and her family are now emigrating back to the U.S.

One of the things that has been nagging at me about the clash between Russia and the West over gay dignity and equality is whether we may be projecting too much of our own views onto a culture that simply hasn’t yet had to time to evolve as we have. Could our good intentions be actually making life worse for gay Russians, rather than better? Should we not be a little more circumspect in lambasting Russia when America was not far off where Russia is only a couple of decades ago? I mean: many states have laws banning marriage equality in their very constitutions. Is our high horse a little too high right now?

Well, I certainly aired these worries and Masha definitely pushed back:

Listen to the whole conversation – about Russia, homosexuality, the Olympics, and more practical and effective ways to help Russia’s beleaguered gay population. You can read Masha’s work  as featured in the past on the Dish here.