A superstar ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev was Russian and Gay.
Rudolf started his formal training in ballet at age 11 (in 1949) and when he graduated from the Kirov Ballet School in Leningrad in 1958, "he joined the Kirov Ballet and, bypassing the corps de ballet, was immediately given solo roles."
In 1961, he gained fame while touring Paris, and defected, leaving the Soviet Union.
In 1962 he danced with the famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn, and together they made ballet history. Rudolf said of dancing with Margot,
"Because we are sincere and gifted, an intense abstract love is born between us every time we dance together."
After one performance of Swan Lake in Vienna, they were called back for the applauding audience so many times it earned them a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest curtain call on record!
Rudolf Nureyev danced, and choreographed, for decades, and his being gay was "an open secret."
The critic Clive Barnes described Rudolf this way,
"People will be writing about Nureyev's stage personality for as long as people remember what a stage was. It was a personality compounded of sensual allure and sexual disdain. Yet he always suggested the loner, which is to say that everything about him, beginning with his androgynous but scarcely asexual looks, seemed to be a harmony of opposites; he was a yin and yang person for all seasons and all manners. No wonder he was compared with Nijinsky."
Cool trivia: Rudolf Nureyev played Vaslav Nijinsky in an unfinished film biopic on Nijinsky in 1970.
Check out Nureyev's "solo American Television debut" from 1963:
Rudolf Nureyev being a superstar dancer from Russia, and being gay? That's history to celebrate!
All quotes above are from pages 333 to 337 of "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present" by Paul Russell. You can learn more about Rudolf Nureyev at the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation.
Add To The Celebration:
Who are the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer Russians you'd like to celebrate? Tell me your favorites in comments, or by twitter, and on the final day of the Olympics, I'll run a rainbow variety-pack post with everyone's suggestions!
Please Note: Given the situation in Russia, I'm thinking we should keep it to either people who are no longer living in Russia or are historical. I'd hate to create a list that then would be used against people by a repressive, anti-LGBTQ regime.
Having said that, there is a lot of Queer Russian heritage to explore and so many LGBTQ Russians we can celebrate!
This great video commentary, Dale Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating our differences
And thanks to Steve for sharing this with me, so I could share it with all of you!
And for those of you in a romantic mood - and for my amazing husband, here's a video gift, courtesy of Jonathan Groff and the New York Times.
Happy Valentine's Day!