Tag Archives: Russia

When is a political action not political…

The last few weeks have seen Russia viewed with a magnifying glass. A new law passed in June 2013 banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors (under 18s), combined with various violent acts committed against young queer men in Russia and compounded by the country hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and naturally everyone is getting a little bit anxsty. This has lead to various public figures wading in to have their say on the Olympics, British celebrities suggesting the Olympics be moved, whilst politicians reject the proposal of a boycott. Most importantly slowly but surely athletes have  begun to take action to oppose this homophobia in what is essentially their event.

First the Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her nails like a rainbow to mark out her support for LGBT athletes. She was reportedly then reminded of the International Association of Athletics Federations that she could be violating their code of conduct and instead changed them to red “for love”. American athlete Nick Symmonds has also spoken out against the homophobic laws. So it was no surprise that when this week Russian relay athletes Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Guschina kissed on the podium after winning Gold at the Women’s 400 meter relay that the world took this as an act of overt political resistance.

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International media speculated that this kiss was the athletes taking an opportunity to send a clear message to the world that Russian athletes did not support the country’s homophobic laws. It did not take long for the athletes to put us right. Both came out to reject the media’s claims, saying that the media were writing ‘dirt’ about them, and that they were both happily married (to other people, I was confused for a moment too). The basic jist being that the media was making a big fuss about nothing.

But were they?

The athletes seem to believe that because their action was not in their perception amorous in any way that they weren’t making a political statement. Because they did not apply meaning to the kiss that the world would not. Now I am not suggesting for a moment that the athletes are in a relationship of any sort, in fact I would go as far as to say that I could not care less whether they are or they aren’t. What I care about is that they, in front of the world, ‘committed’ a homosexual act. And whether they like it or not, given the context, that is a big deal.

I think that actions of resistance do not need to be marked out as such by those that enact them. In the the lead up to the Winter Olympics, given the context of Russia’s political climate, the watchful eye of the world is examining the everyday experiences of queers in Russia. With public figures in increasing numbers making statements both spoken and in small gestures against the state-endorsed homophobia, the athletes much appreciate that such an overt act of same-sex affection is part of the political struggle against the day-to-day oppression of Russia’s queer people whether or not they want it to be. Their action not only heightened the profile of Russia’s anti-gay laws, if it truly was an act of celebration between two team mates then it only serves to show how ridiculous the laws are. How blurred the lines are between the so-called categories of right and wrong. The hypocrissy that says the same action from two married athletes and two teenagers is viewed in such different lights by the same people. Whether or not they like it, Yulia and Ksenia you are part of our resistance.

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Glasgow Pride: our top picks!

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Pride is always a fabulous day! Here are hots and nots from Glasgow Pride 2013

The top 5 hot topics of this Pride:

1. Equal Marriage: the discussion started almost two years ago now, yet it just hasn’t happened! Hurry up Mr. Salmond….

2. Russia: in light of new laws and various state endorsed (or at least ignored) atrocities Russia is featured on a number of placards to remind us that our queer struggle stretches across the world.

3. Independence: the all-round hot topic in Scotland. Both Yes Scotland and Better Together made their appearance, each presenting brighter futures for queers in Scotland.

4. Religion: whether it’s religions saying that they will accept queer members of the faith, or queers protesting religious intolerance: everyone has something to say about it!

5. Feminism: there were lots more placards displaying feminist messages this year – yay!

The top 5 ‘not for next years’:

1. Charity stalls:  I cannot see you for all the beer! In 2012 the charity stalls were right along the edge of the stage. There were dancing folk literally falling into charitable activities, and this is what I like. Next year, don’t hide them!

2. Parade: Pride is a protest. It’s here to remind everyone what we’re fighting for. Don’t call it a parade, because that makes people think of balloons and carnival queens… And makes others question the point. Which leads me onto another point…

3. Silence: or more accurately the sound of people chatting amongst themselves and I like to imagine wondering why they’re going on a really long, slow walk. The point of Pride is to be big, brave, loud: sending the clear message we’re here, we’re queer and we will not live in fear. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for poignant silences to remember those who have been victims of hate crime. But seriously the majority of the march was chitter chatter. Get your chant on!

4. Pervs: hi there I’m a person, I have thoughts and feelings and everything! You’re gawping. At my ass. No seriously, your mouth is open. Leave me alone. Now, my fellow queers, if you like a woman go up and chat to her, don’t just creep from a distance, it makes everyone really uncomfortable.

5. Queens of Pop in AXM: just gross.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Denise

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi, I’m Denise *Waves* I’m almost 25 and I come from Glasgow.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I wanted to get involved as I feel that sometimes women in the Queer community have less of a voice than we should have (unfortunately), and I liked the idea to have a small chance to do something about that. Any opportunity to work with strong and inspirational women is fabulous in my opinion anyway.

What do you write about?

Anything that bothers me! I like having the opportunity to reflect on current affairs and how queer women are actually affected by certain issues. I’m also going to be writing some pieces for the music section of the website. There will be some reviews, fun articles and maybe even some interviews. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about what you’d like to see in this section, please comment and let me know!

Pride t-shirt

What do you do in real life?

In real life, I’m currently studying for a PhD in chemistry. I also run the LGBT society at Strathclyde university.

Why is Pride important to you?

Pride is important because it shows that the LGBT community is strong and united. Although things are becoming much better for LGBT people in our country, we can still face a lot of adversity in our daily lives. Pride shows that we aren’t afraid to celebrate who we are, and that we will stand together and never stop fighting for equal rights, no matter what is thrown at us. It’s also fantastic for newly out people to feel supported and part of a large community of people who are just like them. Coming out can be a scary and lonely experience, so it’s important for people to feel like they are not alone.

Samba

What is your best and worst part of pride?

The best part is the general atmosphere. Everyone is happy and proud, you have an awesome day with your friends no matter what the weather is doing and I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the people who stand on the streets and watch the parades! The worst part is probably the queues in bars afterwards – both to get a drink and to go to the toilet!

What is your must-have item for Pride?

I think my must-have item is probably a pride flag! I found 3 in my cupboard when I moved house recently.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

Hmm I dunno, “Cover me in chocolate and feed me to the lesbians!” I don’t know if my girlfriend would approve of that one though! If I was going to make a serious one it would probably be something about the horrendous situation in Russia.

What’s your Pride soundtrack?

Good Question! There’s not any music that I’m particularly “into” that I associate with pride. Probably the sort of really cheesy music they tend to have in clubs; songs like “I am what I am” always remind me of Pride, but it’s not really what I’d choose to listen to.

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

In 2010 I went to Brighton Pride and it was actually the first Pride I’d ever been to. It was amazing and I’d really love to go back there at some point.

Denise Brighton

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of the LGBT society and the things we have achieved since 2011. It can be hard at times but it does make me feel really proud when a student thanks you and tells you that you have made a difference to their university experience. I am also proud of having a really amazing and supportive network of friends and family.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Sarah

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

My name is Sarah, I’m 24 soon to turn 25 and I’m half French half English.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I got involved in The Gay Agenda because I was taken in by the idea of putting forward LGBT women-focused topics without necessarily having to be heavily involved in things like politics. I think The Gay Agenda is a fab way to share everyday thoughts and ideas with women that I more closely identify with.

What do you write about?

I’m in charge of the style & beauty column, there’ll be posts on fashion, tried & tested beauty products, lifestyle chats etc.

What do you do in real life?

In real life I’m a spa and beauty therapist.

Gay OK

Photo by Charlotte Bakken: http://bit.ly/13Ysh8M

Why is Pride important to you?

Ironically pride wasn’t much of a big deal for me until last year. In actual fact I’d never attended one and wasn’t bothered about doing so, I’m even slightly ashamed to say that given the chance to go I would’ve most likely said no because the whole concept cringed me out slightly. But then I met my current girlfriend who loved going -more for the meeting up with mates and the drinks part to be fair but still- she took me along and it was actually a really good laugh! The atmosphere with the music and all the colours is like a mini rio carnival and it wasn’t half as ‘tacky’ ad I thought it’d be! Following on from that I went all out -no pun intended- and went on to do a video for Scotland’s equal marriage campaign. I guess as I get older I appreciate the efforts and steps necessary for the welfare and rights of LGBT people, of which I belong to, so I can’t leave everyone else to do all the work for me!

What is your best and worst part of pride? 

The worst part of pride is probably the sometimes questionable taste in fancy dress. The best part is definitely the sense of belonging and unity and of purse the night out!

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

My must have item for pride would be those coloured bead necklaces.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

If I had a placard for pride it would say GAY IS OK!

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

My pride track would be a pitbull remix-don’t judge me 

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

Well my best ever has to be my only one -edinburgh- but I’m positive that will get topped up soon!

What are you proud of?

What am I proud of? I’ve got a couple things that jump up at me: my spa & beauty therapy diploma and the things my girlfriend Leo’s achieved after some seriously rough times and finally on a more light hearted note I’m pretty pleased with myself that even while holidaying in St Pete, Russia, I managed to find the only gay club in the city! Complete with a dark room and their very own -absolutely stunning- drag queen. It’s completely irrelevant that it took about 30mins and 3 wrong addresses to get to it…

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