"Have you ever dreamed of having sex with a woman?" Sergei fired back without
missing a beat.
"No, I haven't. I'm into men."
"We're into men too. A man can always understand another man as best as he
can," says Sergei.
Sergei is a resident of the city of Novosibirsk. He moved to Krasnoyarsk to
live with Pavel. They have been together for three months now. They share an
apartment with Pavel's parents. Pavel says he used to date with a TV journalist
in Krasnoyarsk. According to Pavel, the journalist was courting him in style.
"Homosexuals are like heterosexuals when it comes to dating, falling in love or
falling apart," says Pavel. "Well, we can come to blows sometimes during an
argument, that's the only difference. We mind our business, we never impose our
ways on anybody," he added.
According to Pavel and Sergei, 10% of all males in Krasnoyarsk are gay. The
local gay community comprises not only men involved in fashion industry or show
biz. Some gay parties in the city are often attended by officials of the
Krasnoyarsk regional government, deputies of the local parliament, well-known
journalists, businessmen, and even deans of the city's universities. It would
be pretty hard for a commoner to estimate the scale of a "lavender epidemic."
Just a handful of gays live like married pairs. Some of them have wives and
children who apparently know nothing about the other side of life of their
husbands and daddies.
Boys got beaten up and girls were raped
The majority of homosexuals prefer to keep their sexual orientation undercover.
One of the officials of the Krasnoyarsk regional government is rumored to be
frequently flying to Moscow to hang out at gay parties out there because he
does not want to be "sighted" at the local gay scene.
Krasnoyarsk gays and lesbians used to hang out at Neon, one of the city's
clandestine gay clubs. The partygoers would invariably get a pretty sour
welcome from local youths after the party.
"Locals would confront us near the club's exit late at night. The thugs would
beat up the boys and rape the girls," said Ivan.
"I remember the night when the authorities shut down the club. It's just a
panic. The party was in full swing when a group of camouflaged and masked men
with submachine guns came running into the center of the dance floor. Everybody
thought it was part of the show and began to clap hands. Fun was cut short when
those 'strippers' told us to lie face down and keep hands above our heads. Then
they started knocking glasses off the tables, they smashed the tables too. By
the way, they videotaped the havoc and all the patrons of the club that night.
Apparently, they wanted to make a database of those who have nontraditional
sexual orientation. What a bunch of idiots," concluded Ivan.
"The authorities in Novosibirsk show more tolerance toward gays," says Sergei.
"There're two members-only gay clubs in the city. There's also a square in the
center where we usually hang out. The police don't bother us; they don't shut
down the clubs. Well, there were several incidents when the gays were taken
into custody and spent some time in a holding cell. But all the cases were
investigated and the homophobic cops were brought to justice. I believe the
situation is different in Novosibirsk because a lot more gays are among the
high-ranking officials out there than over here," adds Sergei.
However, the homosexuals in Krasnoyarsk can still enjoy themselves despite all
the persecutions. There is a web site to help those who are on the make.
According to Ivan, the city's numerous escort agencies have plenty of "call
boys" to choose from. The male prostitutes are said to belong to the widest age
group imaginable. In terms of call boys, Krasnoyarsk is on a par with Moscow,
Being gay is a new fad
The number of those who practice same-sex relationships has grown dramatically
over the last several years in Russia, Krasnoyarsk inclusive. Needless to say,
no official statistics are available. Members of the local gay community put it
like this: "We're all over Krasnoyarsk."
Propaganda of homosexuality via the media is one of the reasons behind the
current popularity of "men's love." By and large, it is pretty trendy to be a
gay these days.
Pavel is strongly opposed to such a statement. He says that he started showing
interest in men when he turned 13. He calls his homosexuality a "natural
thing." I asked him what sort of thing or person influenced him into trying it
out for the first time. "You know, I was watching a series called Faculty on
MTV. Two of the characters ended up being gay. So I decided to give it a try
too," he said. At 23 years of age, he has slept with more than a dozen men. He
has never had sex with a woman.
"Homosexuality is not a disease, it has to do some peculiarities of a person's
upbringing," said Dr. Irina Upatova, a psychotherapist. "A child forms his
behavioral stereotypes before reaching the age of 7. Growing up in a
single-parent family, without a father or father figure, a child may later feel
the need to experience this kind of love. Sometimes men become homosexuals
after being raped. No doubts about it, the Russian media actively sparks
enthusiasm for homosexual relationships. You may rest assured that a pubescent
boy will try it out if he's being told all the time that gay love is fun. And
he's likely to favor men over women if his first sexual experience with a woman
is a failure. Having said that, I believe that treating homosexuality is
pointless if it's not related to some kind a mental deviation, and an
individual feels comfortable about the way his sex life is arranged. On the
other hand, the media should take a more careful approach and stop popularizing
the lifestyle," said Dr. Upatova.
Russian government officials at all levels are now holding a lively debate
about steps that should be taken to encourage population growth in this
country. Meanwhile, some of them at times practice homosexual relationships
instead of taking action to curb the spread of the lifestyle. Besides, in
Krasnoyarsk some "pretty grown-up guys" look for the green boys and seduce them
on purpose, according to accounts by some of the gays in that city.
Where does the future hold for a nation where being abnormal is faddish? How on
earth will the Russian women conceive in some 20 years if 10% of today's males
are gay and the number keeps growing? "I feel sorry for you girls. There's only
6 men for 10 women in this country. One out of those six is a gay, another one
is a drug addict, two more are alcoholics, and the last but one is a waste of
space, an impotent. I guess you can figure out the rest," said Pavel before
bidding his good-byes.
Under the Soviet criminal code, sodomy had been a crime since 1934. In
accordance with Article 121 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federal
Socialist Republic, men found guilty of committing acts of sodomy were to be
sentenced to 5 years in prison. In 1993, the Russian Supreme Soviet repealed
the article to meet the requirements for the admission of Russia to the Council
of Europe. In 2002, the State Duma faction called People's Deputy came up with
a motion to reintroduce criminal prosecution for sodomy. Yet the motion was
rejected by a majority of 294 votes against 54 votes.
Russians reportedly show the least amount of tolerance toward the following
social groups: HIV-patients, transsexuals, gays.