Russian Jews, Israel, Gay Pride, and Porn

Jews in Russia have urged city leaders in Jerusalem to ban a Gay Pride parade scheduled to take place there on the day before the eve of Rosh Hashana, September 21st.

Jerusalem_1Boruch Gorin, head of The Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia told media outlet Interfax: “We believe sexual manifestation, be it traditional or not, to be inappropriate in any city of the world, while in Jerusalem, the city that is holy also for Judaism, this is a scandalous blasphemy.”

Gorin also noted the stabbing that took place the last time a Pride parade was held in that city:

“The tragic results of the last action’ when an Orthodox Jew attacked its participants with a knife is another reason why the city authorities should bar such actions. Such provocations could bring about a tragedy, and their consequences are unpredictable. We urge the Holy City’s authorities to revoke their decision permitting pride parade and consider no requests like that in the future.”

WorldPride had been scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on August 10th, but was postponed due to the war with Lebanon. Threats have been ongoing against organizers of Pride events in Jerusalem for some time, including pamphlets posted in an Orthodox neighborhood (which some have said were practical jokes) that advocated the killing of gays.

LucasGay porn producer and actor Michael Lucas, who is Russian and Jewish but now living in New York, plans to visit Israel starting today for a week to show solidarity with Israel, entertain the gay community there (with sex shows, of course) and raise awareness of gay issues. Admission to Lucas’ events will be free to all Israeli military personnel.

Said Lucas: “It will be my fourth trip to Israel, and my third time to perform there. I am very proud to be going to my home away from home and entertain gay Israelis in a time of war. People need to see the faces of war, and I plan to shed light on the world where gay Israel exists. I will expose the reality that the people of Israel face right now, especially that of gay Israelis who are targeted by the hate of Hizbullah.”

Is it any surprise that Lucas’ trip has caused a controversy? He responded several times on his blog (NSFW) to criticism of the trip:

“Look, I am one of you, my gentle readers. I have experienced a great deal of anti-semitism growing up in Soviet Russia. Like all Jews, I had a paragraph in my passport which read “Jewish”. People called it “5th paragraph”. Russians never gave me the opportunity to be one of them. Israel is my country as much as it is yours. To come to Israel is my birthright. Yes, I produce gay porn. But for the most part, I am just like you, proud to be Jewish, love my family, proud of Israel, and was glued to TV for the past month, worried for my people. The fact is, lots of people love and need porn. I do not harm anyone, I make them happy.”

Lucas has so far not announced plans to attend the Gay Pride festivities scheduled for later in September but there’s little doubt that if he did, fellow Russian Jew Boruch Gorin would have something to say about that.

You may have missed…
Jerusalem WorldPride: Flyers Offer Prize for Killing Gays [tr]
Stabbings at Jerusalem Pride [tr]

Comments

  1. Cory says

    Ok, I hesitated writing this and I know I’m going to get flamed for this, but since when did being gay become synonymous with gay pornography? I don’t understand this phenomenon. I realize as a gay man I should be open and accepting but it embarrasses me to see gay porn stars being cherished and worshipped in gay pride festivities as though they have contributed to society as if they were an activist or political figure. Personally, I think it’s gross that porn stars are so openly lauded and thus associated with homosexuality, it paints a negative picture for our community and just reinforces the stereotype that all gay men are promiscuous. How can we, as a population misunderstood, expect to break stereotypes such as this when we openly allow it? I realize that this is only one segment of the gay population and that I should not generalize, but for once I’d like non-homosexuals to see more than gay pride parades with drag queens and half naked porn-stars with over collagenized lips dancing proud to circuit music while shaking their asses in front of children at 11 a.m. on 5th Ave Sunday mornings. I’m sure everyone is going to write “if you don’t like it, blah blah blah”, and sure, I can turn away, but these people “represent” me to the main stream public as well, and for once I’d like to see the gay community embrace decency instead of people such as Michael Lucas (whom I had to share a float with on my last and final gay pride March in NYC in March ’04) and Matthew Rush. These people are NOT gay icons in my book…

  2. Cable Guy says

    “Lucas, 34, was born Andrei Treivas in Russia and prior to arriving in the States studied law in Moscow.”

    LAW? No, he “studied” a particular lawYER who helped get him a visa to get OUT of Russia!

    “After releasing law wasn’t for him, he became a fashion model before setting up his gay adult entertainment company in 1998.”

    “Fashion model” = HOOKER! He never modeled professionally.

  3. Brian says

    Straight porn stars are lauded just as much as gay ones… Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, John Holmes… the list goes on. So while I understand that some folks might not feel comfortable being represented by people in that industry, it is worth remembering that we’re represented far more publicly and more frequently by people from less controversial professions. I doubt we’ll see Michael Lucas speaking for the gay community on CNN any time soon, so let’s not get too upset about the porn folks.

  4. John T says

    I can’t decide which is more disturbing:

    A. The fourth paragraph where they say, in effect, don’t have this parade because one of our wacky friends might stab you like last time and that would be, you know, tragic.

    B. Michael Lucas as goodwill ambassador

  5. Scott A says

    Some of the comments on the Michael Lukas blog are alarming, particularing the one by “Christ on the Cross”, in the 8/21/2006 post on “Israel a controversial trip”. To me it sounds like the author is convinced that all Muslims are deceptive by their very nature and seek to dominate all facets of life. It sounds really hysterical and extreme, I wonder if there are a lot of gay people who feel this way about Muslims in general. I think Muslims and Christians are very similar in their different levels of belief and practice; although there might be a strictly higher percentage of heavy practitioners within Islam and more relaxed in Christianity… I like my muslim friends who, like other rational people, consult logic before dogma.

  6. Martie says

    This Lucas character is a joke. He’s well known in NYC as being nothing less than a sleazy opportunist. This latest publicity stunt demonstrates this.

    If he really wants to show his concern, maybe he can start contributing 50% of his company’s profits to some truly worthy causes.

    Such a scam artist!

  7. Shorty says

    Cory, I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m 21, and when I came out I felt it necessary to stress to my family and friends that the gay culture they watch on TV is not representative of a large chunk of gay Americans.
    It’s sad to say, but it doesn’t really surprise me that so many homophobes resent gays because of the culture. Maybe these “Gay Pride” parades should be renamed to “Gay Porn” parades. Just a thought of mine.

  8. Brian says

    Jeez, it sounds like people don’t like Michael Lucas much. But even if he is a sleazy opportunist and conceited asshole in person, that really doesn’t matter. I likely won’t ever meet Michael Lucas either socially or professionally, so it really doesn’t matter whether or not he’s a prick. Maybe an unexpected benefit to his trip to Israel would be to show the religious fascists that a parade isn’t really all that terrible when confronted with a choice between a parade and a poolside double penetration scene.

  9. Brian says

    The older I get, the less often I feel it necessary to remind straight people that the media’s portrayal of gay culture (whatever that is) doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of my life.

  10. Cory says

    “whom I had to share a float with on my last and final gay pride March in NYC in March ’04”

    Oooops, got carried away on my little tanget. What I meant to say was “on my last and final gay pride march in NYC in June ’04” … I was asked on the HX float that year. What I didn’t know was we had to wear nothing but fig leaves as it was a “Garden of Eden” theme. After a few drinks I eased into my “costume”. The irony was having Michael Lucas on the Garden of Eden float. If I recall correctly, at one point towards the end he flashed his (apparently large) penis at the crowd. If only my Mother saw he then, she would have been so proud lol. I was horrified. My truly first and last attendance. Oh well, worst things have happened =)…

  11. Cory says

    Straight porn stars are lauded just as much as gay ones… Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, John Holmes

    Brian, while I agree with your statement to some extent, the straight community does not have to celebrate it’s “heterosexuality” to the main stream public in Pride Parades nor does it have it’s heterosexuality celebrated and shown to the main stream public by “spokesmen” such as Michael Lucas and Matthew Rush. Yes, straight porn stars exist, however they are mostly touted privately by straight men, not at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I realize porn stars exist in both communities, however the gay community seems to have taken a liking to “its” porn celebrities as if they were Joan of Arc or Mother Teresa, which is precisely my point with Michael Lucas going to Mother Russia,as a seemingly gay spokesman, causing a publicized controversy to be even more controversial, =).

  12. James says

    Cory,

    Lucas is not going as a “spokesperson.” He’s going as himself. And like Brian said if straight folk can’t make distinctions between gay men (some of us are porn stars while others guys who live in the burbs and watch football games) that’s their problem. Not mine.

    peace

  13. J.C. says

    Well, I gotta speak up here because I’m friends with a few guys who work in the porn industry. I can certainly understand why some people would be upset or embarrassed to have porn stars in the news or atop a Pride Parade float; but, the thing is, I do not decide how I should feel about myself based on what my mother would think depending on what she saw or didn’t see at 11am on a Sunday morning. If we start telling certain segments of our population that they are acceptable to be “seen” and others are not, well, then we’re heading right down that slippery slope, aren’t we? Pride parades are for EVERYONE and instead of staying home and spending his money on drugs, if a porn star decides he wants to fly to Israel to perform and get some attention for himself, then god bless American capitalism.

  14. Leland says

    While I don’t agree exactly with everything you wrote, thank you Cory for having the courage to express the overall opinion that I totally agree with. And, sorry, Brian, but your statement, “Straight porn stars are lauded just as much as gay ones… Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, John Holmes…” doesn’t address the core point. I don’t recall ever hearing of any straight porn stars riding floats in the Rose Bowl parade, or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or fill in the blank. It’s not just our Mamas [most of whom eventually learn that there are all kinds of us], but for decades the religious nuts have used videos and still photos they’ve taken of our sanctioned public excesses against us. Just one example, in a suburb of San Francisco years ago video tapes of SF “Pride” appeared on hundreds of doorsteps the morning the local gay rights ordinance was up for repeal. The ordinance went down in flames [though, thankfully, revived years later]. One of the ways Jerry Falwell regularly replenishes his bank account is to send mailings with such pictures. Why, nearly 4 decades after Stonewall, are so many of us still reacting to our earlier erotic oppression with childish gluttony? Confuse liberty with license? “Porn” certainly has its place, starting with my DVD player, but it ain’t riding a float or going to Israel to entertain the troops.

  15. Tagg says

    I’ve searched and searched. Driven my RE/MAX agent crazy, and she still can’t tell me where all of these biospheres are in which so many gays claim to live immune to what’s happening in the outside world. But she heard a rumor it’s very close to Sunnybrook Farm. Anyone have Rebecca’s cell number? “It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. But far, far away. Behind the moon. Beyond the rain…..”

  16. Anonymous says

    “We believe sexual manifestation, be it traditional or not, to be inappropriate in any city of the world, while in Jerusalem, the city that is holy also for Judaism, this is a scandalous blasphemy.”

    Then ban all marriage and make it criminal for straight couples to hold hands or kiss in public. Also desexualize the words “wife” and “husband” by replacing them with “partner.”

    “The tragic results of the last action’ when an Orthodox Jew attacked its participants with a knife is another reason why the city authorities should bar such actions.”

    I >heart< blaming the victim.

  17. Brian says

    Leland –

    “I don’t recall ever hearing of any straight porn stars riding floats in the Rose Bowl parade”

    LOL… point taken. But I, for one, would make a point of watching the Rose Bowl parade if the floats were festooned with porn stars. I think many other people, straight and gay alike, would do the same. But I think the decision as to whether or not porn stars (or any other sexy go-go boys) are appropriate on a parade float depends on who sponsored the float… if it’s sponsored by a porn shop or a bar or club, then fine. If it’s sponsored by PFLAG or the United Church of Christ, then perhaps not.

    And regarding Jerry Falwell, that argument has been made for many years and is kinda tired. I think that pretending we’re all conservative suburbanites is silly, and won’t do a single thing to appease Falwell and his supporters. Frankly, very little will change the minds of people who support bigots like Jerry Falwell.

  18. Leland says

    Appreciate your sense of humor, Brian [you, me, and Lukas Ridgeston in the Stemming the Rose Bowl Parade], but argumentatum ad absurdum is no argument at all. No one said anything about pretending we’re all [God forbid] conservative suburbanites, but rather giving license to those who portray us all as sex pigs [paging George Michael]. The “argument” re Falwell et al. will only become tired after it is no longer true, which it is now more than ever—or have you not noticed our rights falling like proverbial dominoes? Nor, unlike the terminally stupid Mel White, do I imagine changing Falwell or any professional homophobe like him. The goal is to minimize what we do that INCREASES his and his kind’s supporters, but convince them to support us instead. And, in too many ways, we are doing just the opposite.

  19. Brett says

    Jeezus…wadda bunch of uptight morailistic old biddies! Lighten the fuck up! There is room for all us church (or temple) goin’, porn-lovin'(or hating), Israel(or Palestinian) supporting gays in the Big tent.

  20. Brian says

    Leland, I get what you’re saying. I just think that no matter what we do, the religious right will find a way to dehumanize us. And frankly, all they’d have to do for ammunition would be to peruse an online hookup site … they don’t have to wait for a juicy parade photo-op. I just think it’s important for us to be authentic… some of us are conservative and live quiet lives in small towns. Some of us are porn stars. In that way, we really are just like the heteros (as much as I hate that concept).

    And don’t get me started on George Michael. Since when do blow jobs in the bushes constitute a culture?

  21. jmg says

    Any intelligent heterosexual can probably figure out that gay does not equal porn star. I have more of a problem with how often the gay community itself seems to look upon porn stars as “cool.” I would also add to that list cocktail waiters, bartenders, and shopboys. Yes, they are decent jobs (and I have held some of them), but many gays seem to think that you couldn’t dream of landing a better job.

  22. Brian says

    I hear ya, JMG. But don’t you think that this depends on maturity and/or professioanl development level? I remember feeling that way about waiters, bartenders, and shopboys… but I was also 19 at the time. I still admire individual people who are waiters or bartenders, but I admire them for other reasons now. :-)

  23. jmg says

    Brian,

    I do think age has a lot to do with it. Still, a doctor in the straight world certainly has more cache than a bartender, while in the gay world I think it’s the reverse, especially if the guy tends bar at a “cool” establishment. A bit strange.

  24. Brian says

    JMG – Yes, that does seem to be true to a certain extent. But I think that it has less to do with the fact that the guy’s a bartender and more due to the fact that he’s probably very physically attractive. Same with the other guys… the service jobs that are admired are usually at higher-end places where the look of the staff is more closely screened. We tend to pay lots of attention to people who are hot, regardless of their occupation. In that way, we’re just like straight men.

    On the other hand, the hot factor wears off pretty quickly. Looking at Jake Gyllenhaal across a dinner table would be pretty boring after a while if he had nothing interesting to say.

  25. Cory says

    How bout this remark guys. As ADULTS, “mature”, “responsible” people BEFORE “gay” men, does it make sense that the porn industry has become SO ingrained in gay culture? Is it acceptable PERIOD? My theory, gay men mature much less that heterosexual people in that as teenagers heterosexual’s can date, fuck, kiss, fool around with each other much more readily than homosexuals. Thus, when, generally speaking, most homosexuals (for all intents and purposes here, men) come out at 20+, sexual exploration continues. This sexual exploration tends to take off, and a lot of gay men get together in sexual terms. This attitude then transgresses into “I’m gay and proud and I will show it through my sexual exploration” which then becomes gets out of control and unchecked. This attitude is becoming increasingly portrayed in gay culture (stereotypes, etc) through Pride Parades, advertising in gay publications, sexual promiscuity in bars, clubs, social realms, ad hoc. While this is great, the idea that it’s “ok” and “acceptable” clouds the reality that even main stream heterosexual culture doesn’t view this as “acceptable” nor does it define who they are. Gay men need to realize they are “men” and take personal responsibility rather than justify this inherit sexual promiscuity as “my right”. I’m sorry, justify it all you want, I am FAR FROM a Christian, Bible-thumping prude (when I came out I did the party scene, slept around, did a year of hard core partying but then I GREW UP and got it out of my system). The bottom line is these floats get porn stars because gay men WANT IT, it is DESIRED, a sort of “supply and demand” situation. While I DO NOT care what someone else personally believes of me (opinions are like assholes, everyone has them), the fact that gay men generally view it ok to have porn stars being so openly accepted and utilized in nain stream gay society is bothersome, immature and hormonally charged. Maturity is the issue here. Why aren’t more gay floats sponsoring politcal figures, individuals who go to bat for us by making the world more accepting of homosexuals, blacks, lesbians, hispanics instead of the MAJORITY of the floats having sad, over exposed and over paid porn stars like Michael Lucas, Matthew Rush, et al??? Think about it…

  26. James says

    Cory,

    You are right opnions are like assholes, but come on. Even you will admit that this sentence is sort of silly:

    “Why aren’t more gay floats sponsoring politcal figures, individuals who go to bat for us by making the world more accepting of homosexuals, blacks, lesbians, hispanics instead of the MAJORITY of the floats having sad, over exposed and over paid porn stars like Michael Lucas, Matthew Rush, et al??”

    So you are now going to argue that the majority of floats in gay pride parades have porn stars. The majority? Really? Do you think you are being hyperbolic to make a point. The marshalls in this year NYC parade were Florent Morellet and Christine Quinn (two folk whose activism in NYC is well known). The grand marshalls were reps from AIDS service organizations. I think your idea about sexual maturity is provacative and needs to be dicussed, but you undercut yourself by painting a biased picture to prove your point.

    peace

  27. Brian says

    Actually, porn stars make far less for the video work than one would think… but that’s beside the point.

    Long story short, I would not be offended by a porn star on a float, as long as it didn’t detract from the focus of the parade. Their presence is a titillating novelty, and nothing more. No one’s asking them to negotiate our political position with the White House.

    Clearly porn is distasteful to some, and I can respect that. But it would be disingenuous to ignore the role that liberation from established sexual mores played (and continues to play) in the overall movement toward full social and political equality. Gay pride parades have always been a little risque… it’s no more so now than it was 20 years ago.

  28. Zeke says

    You’ll all be happy to hear that I don’t have the time to post my usual ten page comment on this subject.

    Let’s just suffice it to say that I’m with Cory and Leland on this one. Though I don’t hold the porn stars themselves responsible for this strange obsession. They are providing a product that I, and many of us here, have enjoyed at one time or another. That doesn’t mean that I idolize them any more than I idolize my local sanitation engineer.

    I have to say that I was very disturbed by many of the hateful, ignorant and bigoted comments that followed Lucas’ Ynet story. The level of hatred for Muslims, Arabs, Jews and especially gays is truly frightening.

  29. Cory says

    Whatever. I don’t care anymore. any one can do what they want. Let porn stars rule gay pride parades any every gay man fuck whomever they want. I’m done…

  30. mark m says

    So Cory, some of your views are challenged on the basis of logic and analysis or just “for argument’s sake” and you throw your hands in the air and say “Let..every gay man fuck whomever they want”

    I think most of the rebuttles to your points were very level headed… not extreme or hyperbolic, which it seems you have a knack for given the last post.

    I actually sympathize with many of your views. I tend to have a similar knee jerk reaction to the over sexualization of gay culture and some of the more extreme members of a gay pride parade.

    But I temper those reactions with a dose of common sense from time to time. First, no one has made the point that straights don’t need to parade their sexuality because straight sexuality is EVERYWHERE in American Culture… it may not always be as hyper sexual as many gay images but it’s far more pervasive in society as a whole when you consider that male on female coupling is present all around us — in wedding ceremonies, baby showers, magazine ads, dating services, movies, television, music videos, beer commercials, etc etc ad naseum……

  31. James says

    Cory,

    Calm down brother. Has anyone ever disagreed with you before? Trying to have a discussion. That’s all, but it seems as if you just want people to agree with EVERYTHING that you say.

    peace

  32. Richard says

    Aren’t you guys just upset that a gay porn star dares to have an opinion? That he challenges the prejudice many of you seem to have absorbed that sex is dirty and activism is good — precisely by using his celebrity gained through sexual activism to make his political activism heard? It seems to me Michael Lucas is doing exactly what you are looking for — he shows that our gay icons, the supposedly tired porn stars and pretty waiters, aren’t just “things” with cute faces and big dicks but rather can be intelligent people with articulate positions. Next time you feel like complaining of how shallow gay culture is, think of Michael Lucas: He’s made his career as part of gay culture but he certainly isn’t shallow.

  33. Cory says

    Actually James, No. If you have ever read any of my comments that is just the OPPOSITE. Some of the comments here were getting harsh and a little too personal and off topic (which seems to happen quite often on Towleroad), so my last comment was sarcastic, NOT to be taken literal… and yes, I am done here…

    PEACE

  34. Zeke says

    Wow Cory, no sooner did I throw my hat into the ring to support you, than you throw a hissy fit and leave.

    Come on brother, toughen up a bit. It’s one thing to have the strength and courage to state your opinion on a comment board (even when it may be unpopular), but it’s another thing entirely to have the strength and courage to withstand criticism and consider opposing opinions.

    Many of the comments here have been supportive, or at least partially supportive of your opinion. On the other hand, many of the comments that are critical of your opinion make valid too. It seems that there has been a relatively polite discussion/debate going on here, with no real personal attacks. As far as I can tell, the system is working as it should.

    If you’re willing to wander out into the Sea of Commentanistan, you have to expect to face a shark or two. As they say, if you can’t stand the sharks…

    I hope you’ll stick around. I for one enjoy and appreciate your opinions.

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