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Odin Biron, American Star Of Hit Russian Sitcom, Comes Out As Gay

Odin Biron

Interns is the Russian equivalent of Scrubs: a handful of doctors-in-training deal with the day-to-day shenanigans of life in a hospital under an unreasonable boss while the main protagonist drifts in and out of wacky daydreams. Though the viewership is at best half of that of Scrubs, Interns' 3.7 million viewers per episode makes it one of Gazprom-Media’s flagship programs.

Odin Biron from Duluth, MN plays Phil, the fish-out-of-water American trying to navigate life in Russia, and due to the program's success Biron has found himself with unexpected celebrity status and is the de facto face of America in Russian pop culture.

Needless to say, it is a very big deal that he is a gay man.

Biron exists in that awkward space of publicly closeted and privately out: his family and very close friends know, but his workplace and the Russian populace at large are unaware, at least until now. Biron had good reason to keep it to himself beyond the general anti-gay sentiment pervading Russian culture. His co-worker who plays his boss - sort of the Dr. Cox role, to continue the Scrubs comparison - is Ivan Okhlobystin, the popular Russian actor, sci-fi writer, and aspiring politician who thinks gays should be burned alive in ovens.

Okhlobystin was actually rather fond of Biron; so much so that when Okhlobystin greets Biron with smiles and hugs he promises, "‘Odin, I’m gonna bomb the crap out of America, but I’m gonna save Minnesota because of you.’ ” His tune has since changed, attacking Biron on Twitter by calling him a "sodomite", banged his head against the wall, and "cursed fate", asking God to protect him from this "devilry". 

Presently Biron is splitting his time between Minneapolis and Moscow and has enrolled in culinary school in the States and is entertaining the idea of opening a theater, restaurant, or both, but first he has the sixth season of Interns - complete with very awkward script readings - to look forward to.


Founder Of Russian LGBT Teen Support Group Fined For Violating 'Gay Propaganda' Law

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The founder of Russia's version of the "It Gets Better" campaign has been fined 50,000 rubles for violating the country's "gay propaganda" law.

Journalist Elena Klimova (above), founder of the Children 440 group on the Russian social network VKontakte, was fined the equivalent of $775, BuzzFeed reports

Klimova launched the group shortly before Russia passed its anti-gay law in 2013. The name Children 404 is a reference to the “Page Not Found” online server error.

Most users who post photos on the site obscure their faces and include the message, "We exist." They also share stories and can interact with volunteer psychologists who offer counseling.

BuzzFeed reports on Thursday's hearing: 

LGBT activists said that Klimova’s lawyer could not attend today’s hearing for medical reasons and she was left without counsel when the judge declined to postpone the proceedings.

“Today the court has violated the article 48 of the Russian Constitution, according to which everyone shall be guaranteed the right to qualified legal assistance,” Maria Kozlovskaya, a lawyer with the Russian LGBT Network, said in a statement. “We are going to challenge this decision at all levels including the European Court on Human Rights.”

View photos from Children 404's Facebook page and watch a trailer for the film about the campaign, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Founder Of Russian LGBT Teen Support Group Fined For Violating 'Gay Propaganda' Law" »


Russia Levies Charges Against LGBT Internet Support Group For 'Gay Propaganda'

Russia's persecution of LGBT citizens is spreading from the streets to cyberspace as the Russian government starts cracking down on LGBT affiliated websites reports Buzzfeed. The government has its eyes set on Children 404, a group page hosted on Facebook doppelgänger Vkontakte where LGBT Russian teens can discuss their sexuality with others and without fear of retaliation.

Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, commonly known by it's alternate name Roskomnadzor, is pressing charges against Children 404 founder and journalist Elena Klimova. A local branch of the agency is revealing the full charges levied against Klimova on Tuesday. Under the existing law Klimova's group can incur a fine of one million rubles ($21,000), and find itself forcibly shut down for 90 days.

Picture 2Modeled after America's "It Gets Better" campaign, the group came to fruition shortly before Russia passed its anti-gay laws last year. Users, which are mostly teenagers, share their stories on the site and have the opportunity to interact with up to 15 volunteer psychologists that offer professional counseling services. The name "Children 404” is a reference to the “Page Not Found,” error which is a commonly encountered server error.

Roskomnadzor only specified that they pursued the group after receiving 150 online complaints about the group. Klimova expressed her frustration with the agency's profiling of her and the website.

Said Klimova:

“Roskomnadzor says that it’s found homosexual propaganda, but instead of showing where I have forbidden materials, they’re writing that I just don’t have the special knowledge to publish them. It’s absurd!”

Anti-gay activists have targeted the group before including disrupting the filming of a documentary centered on the group with protests. Moscow prosecutors even went so far as to summon the directors of the film for questioning. A screening of the film in Vladivostok sparked controversy in September when minors managed to attend the film--the movie carries a rating of +18.


Russian Police Arrest Activists at Moscow Gay Pride Rally: VIDEO

Moscow

At least six people were arrested at two gay pride rallies in Moscow on Saturday.

Writes Evgeny Feldman at Mashable:

On Saturday, there were about 30 participants in the two rallies, compared with perhaps 60 or 70 last year. One demonstration was held in front of the Moscow mayor's office, a traditional site for such rallies. It was meant to honor Conchita Wurst, a drag performer who won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Women painted beards on their faces to match Wurst's signature look. A second rally was held in an area dubbed "Hyde Park," which is meant to quarantine free-speech demonstrations. Although authorities had apparently permitted that rally, at least four people were arrested.

Tweets by Feldman below, with photos.

More photos here.

 


Central Station, Moscow's Largest Gay Nightclub, to Reopen in New Location

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Central Station, Moscow's largest gay nightclub which was closed after a string of attacks forced owners to shut it down, is reopening, according to The Calvert Journal:

 The club has moved to the south of the city, near Avtozavodskaya metro station. The decision to close the club, formerly located near Komsomolskaya metro station close to the city centre, came just months after the club’s co-owner Andrei Lishchinsky stepped down as Central Station’s CEO, frustrated that none of the 30 complaints lodged with the Moscow City Police about homophobic attacks on the club had been investigated. The club’s return was announced on its website, accompanied by a statement which read: “The concept of the previous Central Station is not lost and is even more clearly embodied in the new project. The goal is to give everyone what they want.”


Parade Honoring Eurovision Winner Conchita Wurst Blocked in Moscow

Wurst

Moscow officials have put the kibosh on a parade planned to honor Eurovision winner and bearded drag performer Conchita Wurst, the Guardian reports:

Citing the risk of violence and the need to "respect morality", Moscow's security department denied an application for the Conchita Wurst March of Bearded Women and Men, which was due to take place on 27 May...

...On Thursday, a representative for Moscow's security department announced that the parade had been rejected.

"We informed them that the event could not take place," Alexei Mayorov explained to Interfax. While the Associated Press reported that there were "concerns [the march] would provoke clashes between gays and their opponents", Mayorov told Interfax that the city's decision rested on their wish to "respect morality in the education of the younger generation".


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