Inside the Iron Closet

Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia

A must read, via Longreads.

“The Russian closet has always been deep, but since last June, when the Duma began passing laws designed to shove Russia’s tiny out population back into it, the closet has been getting darker. The first law banned gay ‘propaganda,’ but it was written so as to leave the definition vague. It’s a mechanism of thought control, its target not so much gays as anybody the state declares gay; a virtual resurrection of Article 70 from the old Soviet system, forbidding ‘anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.’ Then, as now, nobody knew exactly what ‘propaganda’ was. The new law explicitly forbids any suggestion that queer love is equal to that of heterosexuals, but what constitutes such a suggestion? One man was charged for holding up a sign that said being gay is ok. Pride parades are out of the question, a pink triangle enough to get you arrested, if not beaten. A couple holding hands could be accused of propaganda if they do so where a minor might see them; the law, as framed, is all about protecting the children. Yelena Mizulina, chair of the Duma Committee on Family, Women, and Children’s Affairs and the author of the bill, says that it’s too late to save adult ‘homosexualists,’ as they’re called, but Russia still has a chance to raise a pure generation.”

I had an almost physical reaction to this piece. It’s one of those reads that you can’t stop thinking about afterwards, days, weeks, months later.

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