Saturday, February 8, 2014

Anna Yevreinova! Day 2 of our Celebration of Russian LGBTQ Pride: An Olympic Counter-Programming Event #OlympicShame #RussianPride

The image of Anna Yevreinova is from this website.

Anna Yevreinova and her life-partner, Maria Feodorova, were a lesbian couple on the Russian literary scene in the 1880s and 1890s.

I learned about Anna and Maria in Simon Karlinsky's excellent chapter, "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture: The Impact of the October Revolution" in "Hidden From History: Reclaiming The Gay & Lesbian Past" edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr. (on page 350 and 351.)

Anna was born in 1884.

She held a law degree from Leipzig University - many sources name her as the first Russian woman to be awarded a law degree from that university.

She and Maria were "highly active" in the feminist movement.

Anna was the founder, publisher and editor of an important literary journal called "The Northern Herald," which, along with Maria, she edited.

How cool that Anna and Maria were a couple in love and in their life's work!

There was a fascinating description of Anna in a footnote of a letter Anton Chekhov wrote Anna on March 10, 1889. The description is by Zinaida Gippius, and it's on page 133 of "Anton Chekhov's Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentary":

"Inseparable from her pugdog, her gray hair closely cropped, a maroon velvet jacket thrown over her shoulders, she was constantly in three simultaneous but different kinds of excitement." 

It goes on to explain that Chekhov corresponded with Anna, both about his own submissions to Northern Herald as well as to suggest medical, agricultural and other natural-science experts who could "contribute interesting articles to her journal."

The name of the literary journal Anna published has also been translated as "The Northern Messenger." Here's an image of an 1894 cover:

It's interesting how in the online St. Petersburg Encyclopaedia, they don't use Anna's first name in the description of the journal - just initials, saying

"SEVERNY VESTNIK (Northern Herald), a literary, scientific and political journal, of populist (narodnik) orientation, which appeared in 1885-98 until 1889 under А. М. Evreinova's editorship."

In the list below that of "Persons" associated with the journal, Anna's name is fourth down in a list of 19. There, she's listed as "Evreinova Anna Mikhailovna" - but it does make you feel like they're downplaying the fact that she was a woman in a position of power who helped guide and shape Russian literary culture.

If they're not talking about her being a woman, I doubt her love for Maria is highlighted in Russia, either.

For all Anna and Maria did and were, and for how they inspire us today, their love is something to celebrate!


Check out this great artist's portrait of this pioneering Russian Lesbian couple - Anna and Maria - at To Russia With Love. a very cool art and advocacy project to "portray iconic and influential queer figures from Russia's history" and "create conversations" by getting their images of queer Russians out into the world.


Take Action:

Today, maybe even while you're watching the Olympics with them, talk to friends and family members about what's going on with Russia's anti-gay laws, to where even defending gay people's right to exist is a crime.  Consider using this quote from Gary Shteyngart, interviewed in the February 10, 2014 TIME (on page 64), who said

"What a jerk, by the way, this Putin. It's like he figured out, O.K., you can't go after the Jews anymore, so who're we going to go after now?"

Drawing the parallels between the scapegoating of the LGBTQ community now with Russia's sad and terrible history of scapegoating the Jewish community there is powerful.  It can lead to discussing how politicians manipulate hate (and fear) to keep themselves in power and deflect attention from that which they'd rather the people in their country not notice. (Like a magician, who distracts you so you don't see the slight-of-hand.)


Add To The Celebration:

Who are the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer Russians you'd like to celebrate? Add your favorites in comments, 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!


Today's Bonus:

What Google's Home page looked like yesterday, the opening day of the 2014 Winter Olympics

I have to shout-out to Google for their Opening Olympic Day search engine logo which was all Rainbow LGBTQ Pride!  They even added this line from the Olympic Charter:

"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." –Olympic Charter

Go, Google! Thanks for Standing UP!

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