Michael Lucas is Done With Russia



This country will never have a successful gay pride march: The profoundly democratic sense of identity that binds us in most other countries is anathema to the Russian obsession with individual status. Personal privilege will always trump common civil rights. It’s unthinkable in Russia for rich gay Russians (i.e. the privileged and powerful) to share the street with poor gay Russians. When Nikolai was arrested, even gay websites tried to turn his public activism into a private bid for recognition. They called him the “PR homo,” allegedly happy about the incident because it got him on TV. Of course, they also suggested that his activism was “embarrassing” and “indiscreet” — just like activism about any other cause in this country that’s anesthetized by money and oppression.

I left Russia in 1994 because I couldn’t imagine living there as a gay person (or as any person, actually). In the meantime, ironically, I have become somewhat of a gay icon there — something I don’t derive any pleasure from. My movies are acquired in large quantities (always through illegal download, unfortunately), I am included in a book, Famous Russian Gays, and I have been three times on the cover of the nation's only gay magazine, Qvir. I suspect that has something to do with being a convenient fantasy, far away. Nikolai, who is an inconvenient reality, close by, gets no such admiration. Even though he did a thousand times more for Russia then I ever have or ever want to.

He is, as I said, relentless. Just three days after being released, following the airport incident, he chained himself with a group of other gay activists to the fence surrounding the City Hall office of Moscow’s then-mayor and homophobe in chief Yuri Luzhkov — and was promptly re-arrested. I admire his dedication. But for myself I have come to the conclusion that this country, with its poisonous mix of brutality and intolerance, is not going to change in any real way. I don’t want to be associated with this odious place. I am renouncing my citizenship. 

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