A Russian Valentine

Damian Siqueiros's "To Russia with Love" crowd-funding project portrays iconic queer figures from Russia's history, tracing a line from 19th century to the present.



Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin
Just before Stalin came into power, the Communist Party, under the leadership of Lenin changed the tight laws of the Russian civil code to accept less traditional family values. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. Unfortunately that didn't last long, Stalin and his dysfunctional rule reinstated the penalty for homosexual acts, mainly for political reasons. Male homosexuality was regarded as a sign of fascism and dissidence from the regime. Thousands of men were imprisoned under this law.

History seems to repeat itself with the current president, Vladimir Putin. After the end of the Stalinist era, toward the 1970s a period of relative freedom and acceptance seemed to establish in Russia. Under President Boris Yeltsin homosexuality was decriminalized again in the early '90s. Putin seems to have found in persecuting the LGBT community a powerful weapon to validate his power in the eyes of the public opinion, as 90 percent of Russians support the anti-gay propaganda law.

This tableau represents a paradox by representing a loving gay couple in distress under the new laws, portraying the two Russian rulers that have been the most abrasive towards the LGBT community.