Russian gay activist Nikolay Alekseyev told The Advocate in January that America lacks an LGBT rights figurehead because the stakes are too high for most people -- his words now sound prophetic as he steps down from his position as head of Moscow Pride.
For years, Alekseyev worked against the homophobic government culture of Russia, putting increasing pressure on Moscow officials to allow Pride celebrations after they repeatedly canceled them. Enduring brutality, kidnapping, and slander, Alekseyev scored a major victory a year ago when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia violated the European Convention on Human Rights when it banned three Moscow gay-pride festivals.
Alekseyev, 34, has written two books on gay rights that are now housed at the U.S. Library of Congress -- he was viewed as the Harvey Milk of Russia, possibly Europe. So, the fact that he's stepping down from Moscow Pride, and the website GayRussia, is a shock to some. Alekseyev did not give specific reasons for his departure in his message on Facebook, Twitter, and listserv emails, but it appears to be for personal reasons. Nikolai Baev, the man succeeding Alekseyev at GayRussia, told UKGayNews that, "The reason is totally personal. He just decided to change his activity and lifestyle, and he has a full right to this."
"It is true that I am fed up, and that is why I decided to step down," Alekseyev confirmed to UK Gay News, but wouldn't divulge any more information.
Alekseyev recently ran into problems in America. A spring speaking tour was planned as an informal U.S. "debut" party for the civil rights leader. But when an anti-Semitic blog post of Alekseyev's was translated just prior to the trip, the California speaking engagements were canceled -- Robin Tyler, the Los Angeles-based LGBT activist, says she made the decision after Alekseyev refused to clarify his remarks; Alekseyev says he pulled the plug and that an enemy of his, Scott Long, formerly of the British organization Human Rights Watch, translated and released the post with the intention of ruining the U.S. trip.