Unfinished hotel rooms, terrorist threats, egregious human rights violations and thrilling athletic feats: Sochi’s got it all. But Russia’s dangerous, government-sanctioned homophobia precedes and extends far beyond this year’s Olympic games.

1. “Closed, Destroyed, Deleted Forever.” (Dmitry Pashinsky, n+1, February 2014)

Incredible interview with Lena Klimova, founder of Children 404, a social networking resource for the oppressed LGBTQ community in Russia. As a result, Klimova has been accused of disseminating “gay propaganda.” Now, Children 404 faces deletion and Klimova faces thousands of dollars in fines, all for attempting to create a supportive community of teenagers, parents, psychologists and other advocates.

2. “Inside the Iron Curtain: What it’s Like to be Gay in Putin’s Russia.” (Jeff Sharlet, GQ, February 2014)

The police bring cages to Pride parades. The right-wing fringes have their children beat LGBT activists. Violence is acceptable, even appreciated. Homophobia is sanctioned by the government and the Orthodox church. One gay man compared Russia today to Germany in the 1930s.  (I wept while reading this story.)

3. “On Holding Hands and Fake Marriage: Stories of Being Gay in Russia.” (David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, November 2013)

Heartbreaking, powerful personal testimonies from LGBTQ folks living in Russia today.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

We need your help to get to 5,000 Longreads Members.

Join Longreads now and help us keep going.