Elton John Wants to Reason with Russian Leaders About Gays, Won’t Tell Them to ‘Go to Hell’

Elton John speaks to NPR about his upcoming trip to perform in Moscow, and what he'll do there:

EltonOn one hand, I want to say, 'I'm not going and you can go to hell, you guys.' But that's not helping anyone who's gay or transgendered over there. I've been going to Russia since 1979. I've been going quite frequently, and I've always had a wonderful rapport with the Russian audiences and with the Russian people. And you know there are a lot of great Russian people out there who are outraged by what's going on, but they don't have — I don't want to abandon them. Now, I'll probably get criticized for going, and I can understand that. It's just that I, as a gay man and a gay musician, cannot stay at home and not support these people who have been to lots of my concerts in the past. I'm aware of the situation and I will be diplomatic. I'm not going to go into Russia and tell [Vladimir Putin] to go to hell and things like that. That's not the way things are done. You chip away at something, and you hope there will be dialogue and that the situation can get better. You don't just go in there with guns blazing and say, 'Well, to hell with you.' Because they're going to say, 'To hell with you, and get out of the country.' That's not going to solve anything. But if I can go there, maybe I can talk to some people in the administration.

"You can make a statement and you can read it from the stage, but it would be nice, and it would be much more fulfilling to try and meet with people in Moscow and say, 'Listen, this is just, you know, this is silly. It's a reactionary knee-jerk thing. It's harming your reputation in the rest of the world. It's not doing you any good. There has to be some discussion here. What you're doing is outrageous.' [Pauses.] They can tell me to go to hell. I've gotta do it diplomatically, but I'm going to say what I think and what I feel."

(via jmg)

Comments

  1. Jeff says

    Gee, I wonder what would have happened if Elton was a Jewish performer in the 1930s and had the same reasoning for going to Germany:

    “I owe it to the Jews there and the many reasonable Germans. It would be much more fulfilling to try and meet with people in Berlin and say, ‘Listen, this is silly. It’s harming your reputation in the rest of the world. There has to be some discussion here.'”

    Great approach. It worked so well with playing Rush Limbaugh’s wedding — Rush is a changed man! And as an added bonus, he still gets to go to Russia and make a lot of money.

  2. Jack M says

    I totally understand his postion, until I get to the part where he thinks he can talk to the Russian “administration.” First of all, does he really know any of them? And second, why in the world does he think he can sway their opinions? He’s overestimating his abilities.

  3. lukebrux says

    It’s just a money issue, if he will go he will need to shut up in front of the Russian audience, if he intend to speak out, Russian government will deny him the VISA.

  4. Mick says

    Why would anybody perform in Russia right now? According to Sir Elton, “You don’t just go in there with guns blazing and say, ‘Well, to hell with you.’ Because they’re going to say, ‘To hell with you, and get out of the country.’ (Translation “No Paycheck for Sir Elton”.) So, he thinks he can sit down and delicately chip away at Putin’s bigotry over a cup of tea? This coming from the same diva who performed in South Africa when apartheid was the law of the land and more recently at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding! It’s all about the Benjamins with Sir Elton. Madonna & Lady Gaga have bigger balls than this pretentious old queen.

  5. Xanadu says

    I understand his desire to go still but to ignore the ability and chance that he has to make some kind of “difference”, is sad. He doesn’t need to tell Putin to go to Hell, he just needs to be adamant of the wrongness going on…

  6. David From Canada says

    Elton John is a singing superstar and a mature man of 66 years of age. Given the lofty, veteran strata he has reached, he doesn’t really need to prove anything to anyone anymore. He has more than earned the right to be just who he is.
    Let him perform in Russia. He doesn’t have to be the Saviour of either Russia or the Gay Community. He just has to be Elton John.

  7. Rick says

    “This is a surprisingly mature approach. But clearly most of you are unable to understand that. Grow up”

    Oh, they understand it, UFFDA, and know that it is the most sensible approach to take…..but their instinctive hatred towards any gay man who has become successful in life prevents them from acknowledging it.

    If a straight, female “diva” had done and said exactly the same thing that Elton has done and said, they would be heaping praise on her and bowing at her feet, lauding her as “courageous” and “fierce.”

    The emotional damage that drives this behavior in gay men goes way beyond being “immature” or lacking understanding, I am afraid.

  8. says

    Yeah Elton.
    Just like you reasoned with the Apartheid Regime of South Africa when you played in Sun City and the whole edifice of Apartheid came crumbling down…..like 20 years and infinite misery later.

    Retire into obscurity Elton and leave activism to the adults.

  9. Mike Ryan says

    As previously said, it is a money issue. He makes millions of dollars for his appearances in Russia and the guy is so greedy he would rather sell out the gay community before kissing that bundle of cash off. All of these outspoken gay people who support Russia have an agenda for themselves and not for the gay community at all. Elton John, Robbie Williams and other gay celebrities who refuse to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay policies or who publicly claim we should support Russia despite their anti-gay policies do so because of money or fame or celebrity. As noted above, replace gay with Jew and you’d find these same celebrities would speak against Russia and not in favor of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

  10. Mary says

    Uffda, while I’m not sure its constructive to tell people to “grow up,” I AM glad that you approve of Elton’s methods. I don’t know whether anything Elton says can sway people’s views, but at the very least it is good that the world learns LGBT people are not of one mind about even a single issue – including how to deal with the opposition. Prejudice against any group is bound to decline it gets harder and harder to see the group as monolithic.

    I’ll bet that most homophobes would be surprised if they visited Towleroad and saw the fierce fighting that often goes on here about things like femme gays vs. masculine gays and whether or not LGBT people can be Republicans without being total sellouts!

  11. LJC says

    Please, he doesn’t need the money. There is something called goodwill and I do believe his intention is to show solidarity with gay Russians. And though I don’t think his music is relevant anymore, he is still a pretty strong gay icon. That in and of itself is going against the law.

  12. UFFDA says

    Oh RICK, I don’t know what to say for certain about that last point. Gay men are certainly a wounded and some of them rather self-destructively angry bunch.
    But they don’t hate successful gay men exactly. It’s normal in many cultures and sub-groups to claw achievers down to a lower level. Somehow it is deeply offensive that some people of the same kind live at “higher” or a more showy pitch than everyone else. That’s pretty normal.

    When I see Cher, and other “divas” I admire their wantoness. It thrills me to see them stepping all over the patriarchal culture which stealthy oppresses all of us. But there are also legions of male heros in the gay movement that move me as well.

    Mary, you’re too level headed…I have to run out of patience in order to comment sometimes.

  13. UFFDA says

    Oh RICK, I don’t know what to say for certain about that last point. Gay men are certainly a wounded and some of them rather self-destructively angry bunch.
    But they don’t hate successful gay men exactly. It’s normal in many cultures and sub-groups to claw achievers down to a lower level. Somehow it is deeply offensive that some people of the same kind live at “higher” or a more showy pitch than everyone else. That’s pretty normal.

    When I see Cher, and other “divas” I admire their wantoness. It thrills me to see them stepping all over the patriarchal culture which stealthy oppresses all of us. But there are also legions of male heros in the gay movement that move me as well.

    Mary, you’re too level headed…I have to run out of patience in order to comment sometimes.

  14. emjayay says

    Why are the Russians letting him perform when they banned some straight Hispanic woman singer who said something nice about gay people?

    The only excuse he would have to perform there is if he did just one show and came out in a rainbow jacket with his husband and did a bunch of songs about gay stuff. I doubt that he has any, but he could do some Pet Shop Boys and Lady Gaga material. Maybe a singing version of One Love. None of which he will do.

    No, merely appearing there is no more of a statement for gay people than if he was Liberace.

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