DOES GAY PRI­DE MAT­TER?

Gay Friendly Germany - - Essay - Sla­va­mo­gu­tin.com

In a stir­ring es­say, New York­ba­sed pho­to­gra­pher Sla­va Mo­gu­tin ex­plains why it’s time to go back out on­to the streets and fight for les­bi­an and gay rights

When I first ar­ri­ved in New York ne­ar­ly 20 ye­ars ago, one of the most vi­vid im­pres­si­ons of my new ho­me ci­ty was the first Gay Pri­de pa­ra­de I saw. Being exi­l­ed from a ho­mo­pho­bic coun­try for being open­ly gay and spea­king out on gay is­su­es, to see such a mas­si­ve and fes­ti­ve de­mons­tra­ti­on of free­dom and uni­ty was a to­tal reve­la­ti­on for me. This was the Ame­ri­can Gay Uto­pia as I had ima­gi­ned it. I couldn’t stop the te­ars thin­king how lu­cky I was to be ab­le to wit­ness this and be a part of it, un­li­ke my gay fri­ends in Rus­sia who I had left be­hind. Even though Wei­mar Ber­lin was of­fi­ci­al­ly the birth­place of the gay li­be­ra­ti­on mo­ve­ment, New York Ci­ty is whe­re it re­al­ly took off, when a bunch of raun­chy drag queens and drun­ken fags at the bar Sto­ne­wall Inn on Chris­to­pher Street fought back against po­li­ce ha­rass­ment back in the sum­mer of 1969. For the first time gays took to the streets, and ha­ve do­ne it every sum­mer sin­ce to com­me­mo­ra­te the be­gin­ning of the glo­bal gay re­vo­lu­ti­on. Fast-for­ward 45 ye­ars, and we now live in a world whe­re gay mar­ria­ge is of­fi­ci­al­ly re­co­gni­zed in 18 coun­tries and 18 sta­tes in the US. When I at­temp­ted to re­gis­ter the first sa­me-sex mar­ria­ge in Rus­sia back in 1994, this see­med li­ke a dis­tant fu­ture and ma­ny of us fought and worked hard to get to this po­int. The new ge­ne­ra­ti­on of gay peop­le who are for­t­u­na­te en­ough to live in this Gay Uto­pia is far less con­cer­ned about po­li­tics; they’re mo­re in­te­rested in La­dy Ga­ga’s la­test re­lea­ses or the next gay crui­se than the si­tua­ti­on of gay rights in other, less for­t­u­na­te parts of the world—ne­ar­ly 80 coun­tries whe­re it’s still il­le­gal to be gay. Sad­ly, most Gay Pri­de pa­ra­des I’ve se­en in re­cent ye­ars re­flect and pro­mo­te this po­li­ti­cal in­dif­fe­rence, tar­ge­ting ins­tead a hu­ge con­su­me­rist ap­pe­ti­te of the gay com­mu­ni­ty. The last pa­ra­de I went to was an end­less stream of cor­po­ra­te floats with a bunch of half-na­ked, lo­go-wea­ring mus­cle clo­nes who we­re paid to dan­ce around them. The few ac­tivist groups with po­li­ti­cal slo­gans got lost in the rain­bow­co­lou­red sea of cor­po­ra­te ad­ver­ti­se­ment. The exci­te­ment of my first Gay Pri­de me­mo­ries ga­ve way to re­sent­ment against gay pa­ra­des of any sort. Does Gay Pri­de still mat­ter, af­ter all the ac­com­plish­ments and vic­to­ries achie­ved by gay peop­le around the world? And what’s the po­int of hol­ding the­se pa­ra­des in ca­pi­tals al­re­a­dy so cos­mo­po­li­tan and

pro­gres­si­ve—al­most li­ke pre­aching to the choir, as they say in Ame­ri­ca? Wouldn’t it be wi­ser if the cor­po­ra­te spon­sors of Gay Pri­de spent the sa­me mo­ney on hel­ping our bro­thers and sis­ters who are in trou­ble in pla­ces li­ke Zim­bab­we, run by the no­to­rious dic­ta­tor-ho­mo­pho­be Ro­bert Mu­ga­be; or Iran whe­re gay peop­le, in­clu­ding te­enagers, are being rou­ti­nely han­ged in pu­b­lic; or Mau­ri­ta­nia whe­re gays are sub­ject to the de­ath pe­naltz by pu­b­lic sto­n­ing … The list goes on and on, with the ent­i­re Mus­lim world and most of Af­ri­ca being ag­gres­si­ve­ly an­ti-gay. Add to that the two most po­pu­la­ted coun­tries, Chi­na and In­dia, whe­re ho­mo­se­xua­li­ty is se­mi-le­gal, and Rus­sia, which re­cent­ly ad­op­ted an­ti-gay laws, and the map of the world sud­den­ly doe­sn’t look so gay-fri­end­ly any­mo­re. Howe­ver, the mas­si­ve in­ter­na­tio­nal back­lash against Pu­tin’s an­ti-gay cru­sa­de gi­ves us ho­pe that we can uni­te again for the good cau­se.

Moscow’s new mayor re­cent­ly si­gned a ban on Gay Pri­de pa­ra­des for the next 100 ye­ars, cal­ling them “sa­ta­nic.” So does Gay Pri­de mat­ter in 2014? The his­to­ry of Sto­ne­wall, which star­ted with a drun­ken brawl and grew into a hu­ge pro­test and na­ti­onwi­de mo­ve­ment, teaches us one im­portant les­son: a bunch of queers and drag queens can, in fact, chan­ge the world. Gay Pri­de is a good re­a­son to ral­ly and pro­test, re­flect and ce­le­bra­te. It’s time to get po­li­ti­cal again; it’s time to re­mem­ber our re­bel­lious past and re­claim the streets, show our po­wer in num­bers and fight for equa­li­ty not on­ly in pla­ces li­ke New York or Ber­lin, but al­so in all the ho­mo­pho­bic ca­pi­tals of the world, from Tehran to Moscow. It’s time for us to ma­ke ho­mo­pho­bia a di­sea­se of the past. Hap­py Pri­de ever­yo­ne!

1994 „hei­ra­te­te“Sla­va Mo­gu­tin (2. v. l.) sei­nen Freund Ro­bert Fil­ip­pi­ni – zur of­fen­sicht­li­chen Ver­är­ge­rung sei­ner rus­si­schen Lands­leu­te In 1994, Sla­va Mo­gu­tin (right) 'mar­ried' his boy­fri­end Ro­bert Fil­ip­pi­ni – to the evi­dent ir­ri­ta­ti­on of his fel­low Rus­si

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