Despite Institutionalized Homophobia, Sochi Gay Scene Stands Strong


With all of the horrible things coming out of Russia thanks to President Putin's anti-gay witch hunt, it's nice to hear about a place within the country where things aren't quite so bleak. The combination of being a resort town and casual southern attitudes results in Sochi having comparatively lax attitudes regarding gays and the gay scene. As the Calgary Herald reports:

The city was a gay hub in Soviet times, a fact facilitated by the Soviet Union's closed borders, an easygoing southern temperament and, for many visitors, a healthy distance from family and friends back home — giving the place a "What-happens-in-Sochi-stays-in-Sochi" appeal.


"Sochi is a multinational city, they're relaxed about everyone," [Valery Kosachenko] said. 

The driving force behind this acceptance appears to be less compassion and more capitalism, but a safe(r) space is still a thing to be grateful for when few alternatives exist. 


  1. adrenan p says

    Since when is a man dressed as a woman an indication of male homosexuality? It looks like a bunch of men who are trying to mimic heterosexual scenarios. Sad.

  2. litper says

    Adrenan, I agree with you. I’m tired of gender issues mixed with gay rights. If they feel like they’re women, let them be, but how is that related to homosexuality?

  3. woody says

    The IOC really needs to take a hard line with russia. This whole thing has really tarnished the image of the olympics. If the IOC doesn’t get serious, they’re to blame.

  4. patrick says

    If this is truly a “gay” bar, it will not last long after the Olympics are over, and the ever more restrictive laws are put in place. It really doesn’t surprise me that Towleroad has swallowed this obvious propaganda hook, line and sinker without bothering to check facts.

  5. Closet says

    Drag queens always make for a sexy time. Of course it has to be propaganda. That’s bull—. I’ve seen the exact same thing in gay American bars. Can’t you face your heritage??

  6. says

    And Sochi was indeed known as a gay resort — there were supposedly gay beaches there in the 70s-80s, probably earlier as well.

    There are indeed two gay clubs in Sochi. Mayak is supposedly one of the largest in the country:

    The other is Zerkala:

    Putin and his friends have always touted the fact that Moscow has as many or more clubs (supposedly) than most cities in the West. Of course the closed and usually unmarked clubs, often with a buzzer to enter, like a speakeasy, are the ONLY place one can socialize openly.

    It’s a kind of bread and circuses trick: why do you need rights or propaganda? We allow you to have clubs!

  7. Rowan says

    PR stuff. Please, if anyone believes this has come out organically….lol…this is Russia.