My Marred Motherland

I used to call Russia my Motherland because I had such a connection to it and its people when I lived in there in 2002-2003. I met people whose outlook on life and the world changed my own thinking of the world and my place in it. And so I am deeply saddened by the recent (or ongoing) descent within its social structure.

Last week there was a brutal torture murder of a 23 year old gay man in Volgograd. The details are too horrific to repeat, but the rise in homophobic violence in Russia seems to be heightened by the nation’s homophobic government administrations:

  • There are bans against gay news or “propaganda”
  • President Putin has overseen a religious revival of the Orthodox Church, whose leader suggests that homophobia is one of the greatest threats to Russia.
  • Every year since 2006, Moscow authorities have refused to authorize gay pride parades/marches

And now a new book by award-winning journalist Oliver Bullough investigates why Russia is dying from within: “driven by toxic levels of alcohol abuse, Russia is also battling a deeper sickness: a spiritual one, born out of the country’s long totalitarian experiment.”

And another Russian fact in Macleans magazine this week: Russians are five times more likely to die of “external” causes (murder, suicide, drowning, car crashes) than West Europeans.

I was in Russia last summer and I know it’s not all bad. There is good and beauty all over the place. But so many of my young friends, especially my gay Russian friends, just want out. I think it speaks volumes when people want to do anything to leave their home, their motherland.

Ten years ago while living in Moscow I remember saying: give it a generation. Young people will come around to accepting homosexuality…..I’m starting to think it will take longer. But I’m hopeful that it will happen.


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