|Russian Pride Map, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, found here.|
In a country of 143 million people, even the conservative estimate of 10% of a given population being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer would mean that 14,300,000 Russian people are not able to be their authentic selves.
More Than Fourteen Million People!
We who are able to need to stand up, speak up for, and celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Russia!
To bring our celebration to a rousing and inspiring finale, here are 24 additional LGBTQ Russians to know about:
Polyxena Soloviova (1867-1924) was a poet and the first translator of Alice in Wonderland into Russian. She shared her life with Natalia Manaseina, who left her husband to be with Polyxena.
Polyxena and Natalia living openly as a lesbian couple, an arrangement "accepted by their families and by society" is mentioned here and on pg. 351 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Konstantin Leontiev (1831-1891) was a well-known novelist and literary critic. He was also bisexual.
pg. 351 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, Russian gay novelist and publisher who was "frequently invited to the imperial palace by the last three tsars." pg. 351 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Sergei Nabakov was Russian and gay. He lived in Austria with the man he loved up until he was killed in the Holocaust. He was written about by his brother, Vladimir, in Vladimir's memoir about their Russian childhood. Vladamir also wrote in that memoir about how each of their parents had a gay brother (as did he.) pg. 351 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Viacheslav Ivanov and Zinovieva-Annibal Ivanov (1866-1907) were Russian. They were husband and wife. And they were important members of the Queer and Allied community.
Viacheslav was bisexual, and included in his poetry collection Cor Ardens (1911) a section called "Eros" about his crush on another man. Zinovieva-Annibal wrote the novel Thirty-Three Freaks and the collection of stories The Tragic Zoo "that did for Russian lesbians' what Kuzmin's Wings had done for gay men: They showed the reading public that lesbian love could be serious, deep and moving." After Zinovieva-Annibal's death, Viacheslav published more of her work that hadn't yet been out in the world. pg. 354 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Konstantin Somov was a gay Russian artist. pg. 356 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Kuzma Petrov-Vodin was a gay Russian artist - "Russia's foremost painter of male nudes." pg. 356 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
Sergei Lemeshev was a popular Operatic tenor and Sviatoslav Richter was a pianist. Both were Russian and well known. And both were men who loved other men during "the Stalinist age." (1930-1953ish) Sergei and Sviatoslav were both married to women, but that didn't change who they were or whom they felt attraction to. pg. 362 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
David Dar (1910-1980) was a Soviet writer who came out as gay after leaving the USSR.
Edward Limionov was also a Russian writer who, once he left Russia, openly lived (and wrote about his life) as a bisexual. pg. 363 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture"
"Twentieth-century Russians who have been openly gay, lesbian or bisexual during at least some part of their lives include activists Yevegeniya Debryanskaya, Roman Kalinin, and Alexander Zaremba; dancers Boris Moiseev and Valery Mikhailovsky, and writers Evgenii Kharitonov (1941-1981)... and Marina Tsvetaeva."
pg. 484 of "Completely Queer"
"May 24, 1974
From the USSR (see RUSSIA) comes a rare public acknowledgement of the country's repressive policies against gay men and lesbians. American news services report that noted FILM director Sergei Paradzhanov has been given six years' hard labor for crimes including "partial homosexuality' and "incitement to suicide." He is one of an estimated 1,000 persons arrested each year on charges related to homosexuality."
pg. 648 of "Completely Queer"
Two years after his death, Yevgeny Kharitonov's openly homoerotic poetry and prose are published for the first time in RUSSIA. Previously distributed via underground samizdat, Kharitonov achieved a reputation as the first major gay male writer in Russia since Mikhail Kuzmin, who died in 1936."
pg. 667 of "Completely Queer"
"April 24, 1994
In RUSSIA, Yaroslav Mogutin, the country's most visible openly gay journalist, makes headlines when he attempts to register his marriage to American artist Robert Filippini. The head of Moscow's Wedding Palace No. 4 politely refuses his application."
pg. 669 of "Completely Queer"
Soviet Russian diplomat G.V. Chicherin (1872-1936) was gay. He was Commissar for foreign affairs, (starting under Lenin) until his retirement in 1930, and was the head of the Soviet delegation to the Genoa Conference after World War One. He negotiated - at a secret meeting with Germany's foreign Minister, Rathenau - the Treaty of Rapallo.
There's lots more detail on Chicherin and on how Rathenau was, like Chicherin, "another bachelor, who well understood Chicherin: they had similar tastes" - that's code for them both being men who could fall in love with other men - on pages 145-147 of "Homosexuals In History" by A.L. Rowse. Dorset Press (Macmillian) 1977.
Alexie Apukhtim was a popular Russian poet of the late 1800s and early 1900s, who had a romantic relationship with Peter Tchaikovsky. pg. 351 of "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture" And for more on Tchaikovsky, see day one of our Celebration - taking us full circle!
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The citations from "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture" are from Simon Karlinsky's excellent chapter, "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture: the Impact of the October Revolution" in "Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past" Edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr. Meridian Press (Penguin), New York. 1989.
The citations from "Completely Queer" are from "Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia" by Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson. Henry Holt, New York, 1998.