Hey, remember those Russian teenage girls from like a dozen years ago who kissed each other in the rain while wearing schoolgirl outfits and yammering on about “All The Things She Said?” You remember, they spelled their name with a seemingly random combination of letters and capitalizations? They were constantly holding hands and/or kissing each other, ring any bells? You know, t.A.T.u. They’re back and they’re playing in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games opening ceremonies Friday.
t.A.T.u. in 2002
Oh, Russia – you crazy, liberty crushing, hypocritical minx, you. This, mind you, is the same Russia which last summer imposed an oppressive anti-gay law which bans all “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” Propaganda like – let me pull a complete hypothetical idea out of nowhere – two teenage girls making out in the rain in a music video.
So, let’s get this straight (how you like everything, right?) Fake lesbianism for money: Da! Real lesbianism for love: Nyet! Spasibo, Putin.
t.A.T.u. in 2008
Much has been made, and rightfully so, of the draconian assault on gay rights happening in Russia. The anti-propaganda law makes it illegal to hold public demonstrations for gay rights, speak or distribute information in support of gay rights and otherwise posit that same-sex relationships are equal to opposite-sex relationships. Or, one would assume, a total hypothetical like two teenage girls kissing in the rain in a music video.
Human Rights Watch released a video of LGBT people being attacked in Russia this week. Also this week the U.K. Channel 4 released a documentary which chronicles the homophobia in Russia and infiltrated the Occupy Pedophilia movement, a hate group that targets LGBT countrymen for humiliation, violence and worse. More than 40 human rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign, Amnesty International and GLAAD have signed a letter to corporate Olympic sponsors urging them to speak out against Russia’s discriminatory laws and civil rights abuses. All LGBT Russians and their allies, as well as all LGBT Olympians competing there, deserve nothing less.
So, what does this all have to do with two faded Russian pop stars who will be performing (though exactly when they will be performing and if it will be televised isn’t exactly clear because nothing about this Olympics is clear, including its “very dangerous face water”)? Well, it’s just another reminder that we cannot relent in the global battle for LGBT rights.
t.A.T.u. members Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova, who are now 29 and 28 respectively, are – to steal a term from mainstream media coverage of LGBT people – admittedly heterosexual. Yet their posturing during their early 2000s heyday and since can be construed as nothing less than “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
At the MTV Europe Awards in 2002:
At TRL in 2003:
At a 2004 Wembley Arena concert
At the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards:
At a 2006 South Korea concert:
At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival:
At the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest Finals:
Good thing all that kissing, hand-holding, boob-touching and suggestive canoodling was done in the spirit of wholesome consumerism and not actual homosexuality. (Though, we have a guide to the actually openly gay female athletes competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, for your cheering pleasure.)
And therein lies the most unjust rub. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has no problem using our imagery for entertainment value. But it places no value on us as real people. Or even believes we exist in the first place. So it is imperative that the world continues to shine the spotlight on this blatant inequality and discrimination during the Sochi Olympics and beyond. Otherwise, well, Russia is just not gonna get us – or our respect.