On gays and other perverts

Right Said Fred injured in the gay pride parade of 2007, which Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov banned.

As Moscow gears up for once again banning the gay pride parade later this month, Russia Today, the Kremlin’s wonderful cable propaganda channel, has been doing some tough reporting — as well as some important self-discovery.

On May 6, RT reported that, since the Moscow authorities were likely to ban the parade — probably it was the Moscow mayor calling the event “satanic” that tipped them off — the gay activists would appeal to a Moscow foreign embassy to host them and fly their gay satanic flag. For more in depth coverage, the dapper British-voiced anchors turned to the inimitable Gayane Chichakyan.

Flipping her hair and fondling her right ear, Chichakyan gave us the background of the story: the Russian attitude toward homosexuality (“Whatever you do, do it at home, don’t take it to the streets, don’t promote it”); previous attempts at parading (“Kind of hard to call it a parade”); and how Moscow fits in with the rest of gay-loving Europe (“Yes, Moscow isn’t exactly the most gay friendly city in the world.” You don’t say.).

And, as scenes of past “parades” collapsing under the weight of the special forces (whose uniforms, ironically, give the Cyrillic abbreviation: “OMOH”), Chichakyan uttered a phrase that should make the girl immortal:

“Moscow’s response [to the complaints of European human rights groups] so far has been, ‘what if some other communities — say of animal lovers or some other perverts — decides to hold their parade?'”

Exactly. What happens then?

Well, apparently, the first step down that slippery slope is some of the native English speakers on staff cringe and send out a memo on style:

Prompted by references in PrimeTime Russia and the website to Russian gays, newsroom discussion has focused on language appropriate in reports about gays in this country and whether, for example, the term Russian gays can be justified as a category of individuals any more than would be the unlikely references to Russian blacks or Russian straights.

While the term Russian gays is not offensive, the fact that these individuals happen to be in Russia is not sufficient validation for them to be labeled this way as a category, and the use of the term should be avoided. References to gay people, the gay community and gay rights are considered appropriate classifications, judged as accepted language in contemporary English vocabulary.

Discussion on this issue today recalls on-air script that linked into an RT package on gay issues beginning with “From real guys to queer guys”, which would generally be considered as offensive.

This note will be added to the styleguide.

Indeed. A Western journalist at RT told me that, though he didn’t see this particular memo, this was not uncommon at Russia Today: “It sounds right up the alley of the style related emails that go out on some of the most absurd or obvious topics.  It’s worth noting that a lot of the writers/correspondents are Russians with varying levels of actual English ability when talking on air or working to a deadline.”

But, the journalist added, “Then there’s the whole other layer of whether or not they CARE to follow basic respectful usage in English when their native language doesn’t require it.”

Which reminded me of another anti-PC Russia Today stinker.

[youtubevid id=”IQETNmbmYuQ”]

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14 Responses to On gays and other perverts

  1. agoodtreaty says:

    What a charming little TV station…

  2. jake brodsky says:

    Next up on rare people: Openly Gay men in Saudi Arabia, or Gaza.

    • Julia Ioffe says:

      This reminded me of a (gay) friend’s comment: Russian blacks? African-American Russians?

      • Ms. Ioffe,

        There have been “Black Russians” (чёрные русские) or “Afro-Russians” (афророссияне)in Russia for hundreds of years. Africans came to Russia as slaves via trade with Turkey Alexander Pushkin’s great-grand father, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was from modern day Eritria. There are today about 40,000 descendants of these African today. This is quite aside from the many Africans who emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1960’s. When Paul Robeson first visited the Soviet Union in the 1930’s his train stopped in a village made up predominately of Black Russians.

      • Julia Ioffe says:

        Of course! There are some living in Moscow, but they are few and far between and “black Russian” is just not a common category here — I think we were more mocking the sentiment of trying to transpose American categories into a Russian context. If anything, it probably sounds like a derogatory term for Kavkaztsy to the Russian ear.

      • vladimirlogvinov says:

        There is a non-degratory term for africans in russia language – “negr” – for english speaking floks it may sound very similar for completly degratory term “nigger”.
        As for negatve reaction to sexual minorities attepts to “parade”… well.. what are ttey trying to achive? To make people more tolerant to them? Well… epic fail – In our crazy russian metality we ask a question to ourself – why should we tolerate them?

      • Julia Ioffe says:

        Quite a mentality: everyone is intolerable until proven otherwise?

      • vladimirlogvinov says:

        Just think of it – there was a hell of a lot time when some social group was completly disregarded by soсiety. Then someones trying to tell that they was totally wrong without any actual proof, and very fragile argument – “in other countries that small social group is not disregaded”. Would society change they attitude towards disregarded social group just by that? Common sense is tingling… The answer is no. We need somithing more solid to change our attitude towards gay.

      • vladimirlogvinov says:

        Here is one more reason of intolerance to gay in Russia – How can minorities call the shots and not majoriies? It does not fits in russian mentallity.
        When some small social group tell you that your morality is totally wrong and “It’s okay to be Gay”, oh well it completly pisses off most of the straight folks.
        P.S. sorry for my totally screwed english 🙂

  3. Mark Adomanis says:

    What I’d be interested to see is how “family values” conservatives in the states respond to this sort of thing. People from that part of the American political spectrum almost always have sharply negative feelings towards Russia but also really don’t like gay people. Who would win the hate fest, the evil Russians or the satanic gays?

    • Kim Zigfeld says:

      What I’d be interested to see is where Mark Adomanis stands on the repression of homosexual rights by Russian citizens and their governmental leaders.

      And I’d also be interested to see how “president” Barack Obama responds to this kind of thing. Because he has totally ignored Russia’s pandemic race violence, including lynchings, and he may well do the same again, instead fawning all over his counterpart Dima Medvedev as he stomps all over the values that Obama purportedly holds so dear.

      I wonder why Mark Admomanis chooses to notice only the issue of “family values” conservatives and ignores the man who actually governs the country and makes foreign policy.

  4. Pingback: Global Voices in English » Russia: RT’s Gay Pride Coverage

  5. Pingback: Official Russia | Russia: RT’s Gay Pride Coverage

  6. As I’ve said many times before, roughly speaking, modern day Russia resembles 1970’s-80’s America in its attitudes towards gays. It has been legalized, but tolerant attitudes have yet to seep down into the wider society as they have in the US, at least in its blue states. We shouldn’t forget how historically recent the acceptance of homosexuality really was… even in the 1950’s, one of the greatest mathematical minds and founders of computer scientist was practically condemned to death for it in Britain.

    Putin has absolutely nothing to do with this. These are social trends and attitudes, utterly beyond the control of political figures.

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