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CNN Goes to a Gay Nightclub in Sochi: VIDEO

Sochiclbu

CNN speaks to gay locals in Sochi about the upcoming Olympics and what life is like in the Russian resort town and visits Cabaret Mayak, a gay nightclub which features drag shows.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, ABC News went to Cabaret Mayak as well:

Behind a heavy, locked door, in a dark alley just off the beach promenade, Sochi's biggest gay club, Mayak Cabaret, is packed.

The owner, Andrei Tanichev, told ABC News recently that he's against an Olympic boycott. He also opposes a massive gay rights protests during the games, fearing the gay community will be blamed for ruining the event. Instead, he'd like to see athletes and fans show their support in more subtle ways.

"I think that expressions have to be positive. I don't know, maybe something symbolic. Maybe a kiss. Something positive," he said.

"I would like some athletes to come out – those who win, for example," he suggested, drawing comparisons to Jesse Owens' victories in the face of Nazi racism during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Tanichev says Russians consider gays to be "freaks or pedophiles," and therefore he hopes if a star athlete can come out of the closet, it might help break down crippling stereotypes.

"What is important for me as far as the Olympics are concerned and in general, is that when they show gays, that they are seen like ordinary citizens," he said. In fact, he would one day love to close his gay club and know that all people are welcome everywhere.

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Comments

  1. Should have said "...seen AS the ordinary citizens they already are...."

    Posted by: johnny | Dec 20, 2013 9:28:48 AM


  2. That was a very informative report about Sochi. I had not seen it. Thank you for calling it to our attention.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Dec 20, 2013 10:00:27 AM


  3. Also, what is this, 1965? It's 2013, people - having a thriving gay bar does not mean that gay people are free to be themselves. The fact that in 2013 America gays are commonplace, humdrum, and free to be as boring as anyone else is actual progress.

    Posted by: DN | Dec 20, 2013 10:06:19 AM


  4. See things aren't too bad in Sochi :P

    Posted by: optimist | Dec 20, 2013 10:09:38 AM


  5. The club "is in a dark alley."
    That kinda says it all, doesn't it?

    Posted by: keating | Dec 20, 2013 10:29:25 AM


  6. "it might help break down crippling stereotypes."

    well, so would not having out dated drag shows for that matter....

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Dec 20, 2013 10:34:48 AM


  7. This made me cry :

    "What is important for me as far as the Olympics are concerned and in general, is that when they show gays, that they are seen like ordinary citizens," he said. In fact, he would one day love to close his gay club and know that all people are welcome everywhere."

    This was the sentiment here in the US in many places just a couple decades ago...

    Posted by: My Heart Hurts | Dec 20, 2013 11:55:34 AM


  8. "Tanichev says Russians consider gays to be "freaks or pedophiles," "

    Why on earth would anybody think gays are freaks if they saw the photo accompanying this story? Can't imagine, can you?

    "....and therefore he hopes if a star athlete can come out of the closet, it might help break down crippling stereotypes."

    It would, but no star athlete wants to associate himself with men who dress up in women's clothes and imagine themselves to be women.....

    All this just underscores the fact that, in Russia, as everywhere else in the world, it is the West's culture of effeminacy that is causing the backlash against gays, in many cases undoing progress that had already been made.

    Until that culture is eradicated, the backlash will continue......

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 20, 2013 12:36:51 PM


  9. Now go to the biggest one in Moscow.

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 20, 2013 12:47:56 PM


  10. i'm sorry mr. tanichev but jesse owens' victories in 1936 berlin did not stop the gassing of millions of innocent jews. do you want concrete outcomes or will you settle for more symbolism?

    Posted by: jed | Dec 20, 2013 1:13:59 PM


  11. Whether you like it or not, drag is a part of gay culture. That doesn't mean every gay person identifies or partakes in drag. When Anderson Cooper or Zachary Quinto or Matthew Bomer came out, they're not automatically associating themselves with drag. I think a famous Russian figure who comes out gay would have the common sense to realize the same.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Dec 20, 2013 1:38:34 PM


  12. @RICK We can always count on your trolly, girly-boy, sissy self to make stupid trolly comments, can't we?

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 20, 2013 2:44:30 PM


  13. @SpaceCadet

    You're wrong. When you come out as gay you associate yourself with gay culture - pretty much by definition. You don't necessarily identify with every single aspect of it, but the association is still there. And it's going to be very strong in a country where there are virtually no openly gay celebrities.

    Whether you like it or not, drag culture is harming regular gays. The imagery is very strong and very distinct from the norm. That's why it's hard for regular-looking gay guys to counterbalance it.

    Posted by: Eugene | Dec 20, 2013 2:47:10 PM


  14. No Eugene,

    It's you who's wrong and seem self-hating enough that you can't be secure enough in who you are that you are seemingly affected by drag queens and most likely would like to seem shipped off to the gas chamber. I have straight friends who know I have nothing to do with drag and are intelligent enough to know not every gay guy does drag. But I certainly enjoy a good drag show. I suggest you watch Ru Paul's Drag Race and you might be all the better for it.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Dec 20, 2013 3:15:02 PM


  15. @ SPACECADET,

    thanks for speaking up, but it's a debate (or accusation) I've heard for over 40 years now (and a REGULAR issue on this blog): that "normal" acting Gay men suffer because of gender role non-conforming Gay men. (deep lung conjested sigh)

    "Oh, I'd be treated like a regular man if it weren't for these drag queen shows and the effeminates"

    Yeah, because being so "regular" nobody would know that you're Gay. What happens when all of your Straight family, schoolmates, friends, co-workers find out that you SUCK D.CKS?

    Some of 'em aint gonna' like you no mo'

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 20, 2013 3:37:14 PM


  16. I disagree with 90% of what Rick posts on this blog, but he has a completely valid point here. The bar owner wants to educate Russians that gays are ordinary people and he hopes that visiting Olympians can help do that. But his own bar portrays gay men as crossdressers. And he has crossdressers perform when CNN is there. So maybe he needs to sit himself down and think about what kind of culture he is promoting and what kind of message he is sending. Drag demeans gay men and trivializes gay people generally in the mind of the Russian public. His bar is a tiny island of freedom in a vast sea of oppression. Why is he importing American stereotypes about gays into his bar?

    Posted by: Dev Sinjar | Dec 20, 2013 3:48:47 PM


  17. @SpaceCadet

    Wow. You're a seriously deranged individual. There's no point in having a conversation if you're jumping to ridiculous accusations without anything resembling a good reason.

    Posted by: Eugene | Dec 20, 2013 3:54:36 PM


  18. I like a good drag show BUT i do not like how it's synonymous with being gay. I feel like it's old and kind of stale and makes us look like freaks - well it is freaky. It's a show. Our lives are at stake and then we have gay media and the majority of straight people thinking we're all about wearing womens clothes.
    It's ridiculous.

    Posted by: Martin | Dec 20, 2013 4:01:37 PM


  19. @Derrick from Philly

    It's a basic self-identification issue, not a matter of conformity at all costs. Drag culture is considered "gay" to the point of being one of the defining aspects of gay culture - and yet millions of gay men have nothing to do with it. That's why drag culture makes it more uncomfortable for them to identify as "gay".

    Posted by: Eugene | Dec 20, 2013 4:13:40 PM


  20. It seems that a lot of drag performers are straight. Perhaps you don't call them queens.

    Posted by: simon | Dec 20, 2013 4:14:58 PM


  21. Actually in certain cultures, there were men performing in opera dressing as women. They were family men and highly respected in society. Of course no one would think they were gay in real life.

    Posted by: simon | Dec 20, 2013 4:20:59 PM


  22. Thank you, Simon.

    What about during the period Shakespeare's plays were first being produced --hell, that might have been the most glorious period for drag. Of course, that was in the past.

    You know, in his masterpiece "Torch Song Trilogy" Harvey Firestein's (did I spell his name correctly)character devoted a portion of a monologue where he said that "drag would become the Amos n Andy of the Gay world" He said it would disappear.

    Well, Rupaul must have not heard that prediction.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 20, 2013 4:41:49 PM


  23. "Yeah, because being so "regular" nobody would know that you're Gay. What happens when all of your Straight family, schoolmates, friends, co-workers find out that you SUCK D.CKS?

    Some of 'em aint gonna' like you no mo'"

    This comment shows how out of touch you are with the younger generation, Derrick. Younger men are much more comfortable expressing themselves emotionally with each other and do not have the sexual hang-ups their parents and grandparents had. I don't think they would regard sex with each other as inherently unmanly were it not for the fact that the "gay" culture of effeminacy continues to stigmatize it as such.

    Take away that stigma and you would see the gradual evolution of attitudes among young men turn into a veritable revolution overnight.

    Drag and all other aspects of the culture of effeminacy were a product of the oppression of gay men that existed for centuries, but to continue to cling to that culture when the conditions that produced it are disappearing is as foolhardy and pointless as can be. Older individuals like yourself are never going to change, but hopefully younger people will see the folly of continuing with such nonsense.....and the disastrous effect it is going to have long-term if they don't discontinue it.

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 20, 2013 4:52:01 PM


  24. Rick:
    Just the opposite. Your idea about gender roles is an outdated concept. Only in older generations did they care so much about boys should act like boys and girls act like girls.
    Those so called macho or girlie behaviors were obviously sometimes quite arbitrary. No one can explain why a man should not show their "softer" sides and a woman should not be more aggressive.

    Posted by: simon | Dec 20, 2013 5:50:22 PM


  25. @SIMON Masculinity is alive and well; if you don't believe it, look at the ratings for NFL games.

    And masculinity is driven by nature--by physiological differences between men and women such as differences in hormonal structure (more testosterone in men, more estrogen in women) and differences in brain structure.

    Women are not, by nature, as aggressive as men and there is a whole body of rigorous academic literature that demonstrates that differences between the genders show up at very early ages, even in cases where deliberate attempts have been made to ensure that the genders behave the same way.

    You cannot defeat nature.....and the very fact that gay men, themselves, find masculinity so titillating demonstrates that your statement about men being "softer" is just self-serving hypocrisy.....you cannot worship masculinity and denigrate it at the same time without looking ridiculous.

    So gay men can either decide to be men--and have a chance of being accepted into society--or they can pursue a totally futile crusade against masculinity and forever be at the margins of society.

    The right choice should be obvious to everybody.

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 20, 2013 10:09:37 PM


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