Notes from a Gay Moscow Party Cruise
The anti-gay atmosphere permeating Moscow's government seems to have done little to dampen the will of its gay community to enjoy themselves. Gavin Knight of the New Statesman took a ride aboard a late night river cruise "organised by gay members of the press, owners of shops and restaurants [with] major sponsors including Pepsi" and found it to be charged with a party energy much like such cruises in more tolerant ports of the world, until they pulled in somewhere and were reminded they were very much in a city that in a time of danger might care little for their protection:
"Then the atmosphere changed. The boat came in to dock at the second stopping points to find a jetty lined by paramilitary police. Rumours spread that they were not letting anyone on or off the boat. I pointed out how grim-faced the officers looked peering out from under their visors. 'You would also not be smiling if you were paid the same as the soldiers in our army' someone said. A few heated exchanges with an officer ensued. A short-haired woman - who looked like Rosa Klebb out of From Russia with Love - patrolled the side of the boat, her hand on her holster. In the end the tension subsided and the boat moved on. Perhaps they were there to protect the boat from a boarding party of nationalists. It seemed unlikely. It also seemed absurd that a supposed European democracy like Russian was using its armed forces to police a peaceful cruise down the river."
And one final note: Rihanna's "Umbrella" seems to be the inescapable pop anthem of the summer, even in Moscow.
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