John Maguire brings a message of love to thaw the most snow-covered of hearts…
When Cupid draws back his bow this year, I am firing the arrow right into the heart of Mother Russia. I am dedicating my Valentine message to Vladimir PUTIN.
I am not going to write a lyrical ballad of love.
I am not going to try to pen a rhyme crime of the roses are red style.
I am going to state plainly how deeply disturbed I am at the human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBT people in Russia.
I spent the entirety of the weekend in Paris, wandering, mulling over the whole controversy around Sochi 2014. Like a true flaneur, I was trying to assimilate what I want to say about the Winter Olympics. In particular the attitudes to individualism and sexuality that are as bitingly cold as the necessary elements for this sporting event.
John Grant sums it up in his emotive ballad Glacier.
Listening to the debates around the brutalities that are currently taking place fills me with a deep sadness. The gut reaction I used to feel when someone mentioned a queer in school, a shirt lifter, a queg, a fanny… (fill in your own derogatory term). I knew what was coming next.
But I am not going to rant, I am not going to state the obvious. I welcome Putin’s Draconian philosophies, his take on the modern jungle. Like the leader of the BNP, another dinosaur of a man, Putin’s views only serve to make him look like a Les Patterson-esque figure, a crass, crude caricature, his words and actions serve to highlight idiocy. But I don’t know the Russian translation.
WISH YOU WERE NOT HERE
A is for Antigua, where its fifteen years.
B is for Barbados, lifetime for all the queers.
D is for Dominica, ten years or sectioned for life.
G is for Guyana, prison for those who choose not to take a wife.
J for Jamaica, hard labour there.
K for Kenya, fourteen years thrown away without care.
Mauritius just five, Morocco just three.
St Lucia and St Vincent, a decade is robbed from thee.
Seychelles and Solomon Islands, jail for fourteen.
Singapore two, being ever so lean.
Trinidad and Tobago, a quarter of a century to eradicate the disease.
United Arab Emirates, deportation or the death penalty for living the life you please.
Social Networking has often been criticised, but over Sochi, it has been used positively, to show support, broadcast outrage and create a digital community to generate positive messages to LGBT Russians. From the ‘How to ask for a Rainbow Flag in Russian’ tutorial, endorsed by Derren Brown, Stephen Fry, Paloma Faith, Rupert Everett and Neil Gaiman, to the Canadian tongue in cheek response to Russia’s Anti-Gay laws.
What is normal anyway, how is it measured? We are all different and there is no such thing as normal, just the people you don’t know that well. The United Kingdom may well be drowning but the good thing about this country is its happy to let people be. Thank the Universe for freedom of expression and speech in the place that I call home.
The thing I do find extremely disturbing is what will happen once the world’s media turn their attention away from Russia.
Progressive change is not going to suddenly occur. Yet small drops make the ocean. Let us not forget it has taken 25 years to get to where we are in Britain, so we need to support activists worldwide on their long journey to equality. What goes on between consenting adults should be left to consenting adults. It’s an often quoted cliché but it really doesn’t matter who you love. Ignorance is not bliss.
I think of Jack Nicholson as President Dale in the film Mars Attacks! (1996)
Why can’t we work out our differences? Why can’t we work things out? Little people, why can’t we all just get along?
So I send my message with a kiss, Happy Valentine’s Day, Comrade Putin!