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04/19/2007


Elton John Blasts Russian Government During Moscow Concert

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Despite his earlier claim that he would not speak out against the Russian government during a concert in Moscow, Elton John did just that. During last night's show, John not only condemned the country's homophobic laws but also explained why he chose to perform in the country. He also took a moment to dedicate the concert to a young victim of anti-gay hate.

John posted a transcript of his statement on his Facebook account. It reads in part:

"...I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. People have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here. I want to show them and the world that I care and that I don’t believe in isolating people....The spirit we share tonight is what builds a future of equality, love and compassion for my children and for your children. Please don’t leave it behind when you leave tonight. Each and every one of you please, keep this spirit in your life and in your heart. I wish you love and peace and health and happiness. And this show is dedicated to the memory of Vladislav Tornovoi."

Earlier this year, 23-year-old Tornovoi was brutally raped and murdered in southern Russia by two friends after they learned he was gay.

Watch video of John speak from the stage of Moscow's Crocus City Hall, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Elton John Blasts Russian Government During Moscow Concert" »


Elton John's Russia Concerts to Proceed: Will He Speak Out for Gays?

Despite some discussion that they would be canceled because of threats he might speak out, Elton John's concerts in Russia tonight and tomorrow will go on as planned, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

Elton“Contrary to groundless rumors disseminated over the Internet and in the media about possible cancelation of Elton John’s performances in Russia, the promoter confirms that Elton John’s shows in Moscow on Dec. 6 at Crocus City Hall and in Kazan on Dec. 7 at Tatneft Arena are to be held as scheduled,” SAV Entertainment, which is organizing the gigs, said on its web site...

...Meanwhile, SAV Entertainment also denied The Times’ claims about John’s extravagant tour rider, or set of requests or demands, which allegedly included a miniature forest with live birds and diamond-adorned cutlery. The report “is false and discredits the artist’s image,” the promoter said.

Elton has said he would not boycott the country because he needed to go to support the LGBT community there:

"I'm supposed to be going to Moscow in December.I've got to go. And I've got to think about what I'm going to say very carefully. There's two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you're really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

He later said he would not speak out against the government from his stage:

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.

We'll soon know which of those promises he intends to keep, and how he'll do it.


Will Justin Timberlake Condemn Russia's Anti-Gay Laws When He Performs There?

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This week, Justin Timberlake announced on his website that his 20/20 Experience World Tour is headed to Russia--St. Petersburg and Moscow, to be exact--in 2014, with tickets going on sale this Saturday. Since the performances in Russia will mark Timberlake's first time performing in the country, people are starting to ask, essentially, WWJD--what will Justin do? US News reports:

"Obviously our hope is that Justin will use his time in Russia as an opportunity to highlight and expose the horrible situation that the LGBT [community is] facing there," says Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charles Joughin. Recent legislation passed by the Kremlin includes the prohibition of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and a ban of the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples abroad and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

Cher recently revealed she had been asked to perform at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, but turned down the offer because of the crackdown. Elton John, meanwhile, has vowed to go on with his concerts in Russia next month, despite boycott threats, being labeled "the devil's work" by a Russian Islamic leader, and calls that John wear a traditional Cossack uniform rather than his usual costume, which one group suggested was "homosexual propaganda." 

The problem, as HRC's Joughin points out, is that Russia's anti-gay laws are so vague--and so all-encompassing--that nobody really knows exactly what's illegal.  "It could be that tweeting, 'I support LGBT equality,' while you're in Russia could violate the law," Joughin told US News.

Of course, Timberlake's not the kind of gay icon that Cher or Elton John are, but he has voiced his support for LGBT rights in the past.  More importantly, though, he represents--and can speak to--a younger generation.  And in today's Russia, that generation could use all the pro-LGBT sentiment it can get.


Johnny Weir Defends NBC Gig in Russia: 'If it’s Good Enough for Elton John, It’s Good Enough for Me'

Retired Olympic figure skater-turned-NBC correspondent Johnny Weir defended his trip to Russia and his love of the country in an interview with the NYT this week, telling the paper that  his husband, Victor Voronov, a first-generation Russian-American, wants him to speak out and “be more on the side of the gay team.”

WeirWeir doesn't see eye-to-eye with his husband.

Said Weir to the paper:

"I risk jail time just going there, but the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement. I’m not a politician and I don’t really talk about politics. You don’t have to agree with the politics, but you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting."

“It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been gay my whole life. I don’t need to break any laws or wear a rainbow pin to show people that I support gay rights. I think I’ll do that just by being in Sochi and supporting our people there and know they are not alone."

"The gay community has not reacted well to me because some people think it’s my responsibility to be an activist. They’re expecting me to hate Russia because I haven’t been given equal rights in Russia.”

"If it’s good enough for Elton John, it’s good enough for me. Every country’s going to have its issues."


Tom Hardy Signs on to Play Elton John in 'Rocketman'

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In May we reported that Tom Hardy was circling a biopic of Elton John called Rocketman. He has now signed on to the picture which will be produced by Focus Features, EW reports:

Rocketman will tell John’s legendary story, from his childhood to his unbelievable rise to fame. John is set to re-record a number of his biggest hits to match the emotional moments in the film, which will be directed by Michael Gracey, the man behind the upcoming film The Greatest Showman on Earth starring Hugh Jackman.

The screenplay was written by War Horse writer Lee Hall and starts shooting in fall 2014.

Screendaily adds:

Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish of Rocket Pictures are producing alongside Lawrence Bender on behalf of AI Film, the production and financing company that ensued from the acquisition of Icon by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.


Johnny Weir Retiring from Skating, Working as Analyst for NBC at Sochi Olympics: VIDEO

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Out gay figure skater Johnny Weir announced on the Today show this morning that he's retiring from the sport and taking a job for NBC as an Olympic correspondent at the Sochi Games.

Said Weir about going to anti-gay Russia: “While this law is a terrible thing that you can’t be gay publicly in Russia, I plan to be there in full support of our brothers and sisters there and not be afraid. If I get arrested, I get arrested. If not, not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is the worst thing you can do to these young people.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Weir  has described himself as a "true patriot and spokesman for their country" in past interviews and in September wore a Russian military outfit to an interview with Keith Olbermann in which he argued against Russian boycotts.

NbcsochiNBC has been facing heat since July over the anti-gay laws in Russia and the upcoming Olympics broadcast. They have said that they will wait to address the issue until the Games arrive.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

NBC also assured its gay employees of their safety in Sochi in a memo sent out in August.

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts was blasted with criticism last week for accepting a job in Russia as host of the Miss Universe pageant, a job that Bravo exec and host Andy Cohen turned down because of the country's anti-gay laws.

Roberts continues to be lambasted. Wrote Andrew Miller in the Huffington Post:

Thomas Roberts has become the next in a forming line of self-involved celebrities traveling to Russia to show Vladimir Putin how out and proud they are, or how supportive they are of their out-and-proud friends and relatives. Elton John, who will be concertizing in Moscow in December "to support Russian gays," is at the head of that queue. (Figure skater Johnny Weir, who was ready to get arrested at the Olympics in August, got, uh, cold feet in September and is staying home.)

Miller wrote his piece before Weir's announcement today.

Elton John recently announced he would play two concerts in Russia  because, "As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

He later said that he would not speak out against the government from the stage but preferred to meet with Russian leaders.

The real and unknown question remains — will any of these openly gay figures step up and make a difference (either with a major political statement or one that has a financial impact on LGBT members of society oppressed by the Putin regime) while they are in Russia, because it is really the only way any of them can justify making the trip.

Watch Weir's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Johnny Weir Retiring from Skating, Working as Analyst for NBC at Sochi Olympics: VIDEO" »


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