Are These Russian Neo-Nazis Gay?

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com August 03 2013 5:00 AM ET

A new article in Vice magazine profiles a Russian man who claims to be a member of a group called the "Gay Aryan Skinheads," or GASH, a collection of neo-Nazis who believe in white supremacy — and gay rights. Claiming their ideology "consists of clearing the planet of 'dirty' nationalities," the group isn't shy about its racist, white-supremacist ideals. 

Staunch antigay attitudes that often lead to violence are commonplace among skinheads and neo-Nazis; Just last week, human rights organizations began circulating photos from a Russian neo-Nazi group that was kidnapping gay teenagers, then assaulting and humiliating them on camera in a so-called anti-pedophilia campaign. Adolf Hitler's Nazis rounded up countless gay men and lesbians and sent them to concentration camps, where they were murdered alongside more than six million Jewish people. 

But the members of GASH only follow bits and pieces of Hitler's racist ideology, according to the interview. Vice writer Nick Chester claims he tracked down the group on VK, a Facebook-like social networking site popular in Russia. The group — shockingly one of several in an apparently underground gay community among Russian white supremacists — bears a logo that almost seems comical, with two erect penises crossing one another, below a swastika, surrounded by a laurel wreath. 

But Chester's interview is not the least bit comical. Emailing with a member he identifies as Balu, the author questions the skinhead about the ideological contradictions that seem inherent in a group that advocates for ethnic cleansing, but also rails against human rights violations in Russia when it comes to the gay community. 

"Our sexual orientation isn't a barrier to being nationalists," Balu told Chester. "The spirit of nationalism can be present in any of us irrespective of this. In Russia, the rights of gays are hugely restricted, and we can’t sit back quietly when a person is killed just because he's gay."

Balu also contends that GASH is far from the only group of gay neo-Nazis, but that his group has existed for more than 20 years. 

"The fact is that the majority of gay skinheads don’t attach themselves to GASH but have the same purposes and method of asserting influence," Balu tells Chester. "They simply don’t focus people’s attention on them. We don’t like excessive attention to our subculture at all either. However we want it so that everyone knows who we are and what we fight for."

Well, they've certainly got our attention now. Read the whole interview (and see the group's super-gay logo) here.