Nothing To See Queer


At least for the Rus­sians in Sochi them­selves, the issue of gay rights has been blown way out of pro­por­tion. Talk­ing heads and TV pun­dits seem to decry the Krem­lin’s fam­i­ly-pro­tect­ing mea­sures as staunch­ly anti-gay, but in this “Black” Sea ham­let that has become the improb­a­ble site for the 2014 Olympics, there is no dis­cus­sion to be had: gay peo­ple do not exist in Sochi.

That’s accord­ing to Disko Fan­cy (a pseu­do­nym used out of an abun­dance of cau­tion), Sochi’s own Min­is­ter of Data, a posi­tion which affords Fan­cy incred­i­ble amounts of data on each indi­vid­ual with­in his dis­trict. “Nope, no gay peo­ple here. Promise,” says Fan­cy, through my brassy, over­ly ges­tur­al inter­preter. “And we looked every­where: alley­ways, dump­sters, down by the for­est. If gay peo­ple exist­ed, would­n’t they be in those com­mon places?”

Dmitri Prokov, a local hair­dress­er who shares a “Black” Sea-fac­ing apart­ment with a heavy-set beard­ed man in his 40s, agrees. “It’s all tough as nails here,” Prokov con­firms, while my inter­preter rolls his eyes heav­i­ly, clear­ly a code which I fail to deci­pher. “Every­one wears a lot of leather, most men have mus­tach­es, and thick, bulging biceps are… well, they’re just about every­where.” A quick look to the lap­ping sea across the street con­firms as such: thin men, most­ly in black Speedos, lounge by the cold waters, laugh­ing and push­ing each oth­er, rolling bald­ing with boom box­es on their shoul­ders, with­out the Russ­ian stereo­type of a gay man in sight.

Prokov pro­duces a pic­ture, drawn up by the gov­ern­ment in Moscow, of what to look to for in iden­ti­fy­ing a pos­si­ble gay man in Sochi. The hand-drawn sketch shows a gaunt face that sports a thin, point­ed chin beard, pits of fire where the eyes should be, huge­ly elon­gat­ed ears and one long, gnarled horn that pro­trudes from the mid­dle of the fore­head upwards in a hideous curl. List­ed traits include knees that bend back­wards instead of for­wards, thick, hairy red fur on fore­arms and the abil­i­ty to sum­mon up a black pit full of wail­ing bod­ies at any moment. So far, no one like that has been seen in Sochi. “But should they come, we will know because we have this infor­ma­tion.”

And with that, Prokov and his room­mate excuse them­selves to go take a show­er togeth­er — “to con­serve water,” says the inter­preter, nudg­ing my ribs and play­ing with the fly on my pants. When I point out that the “gay per­son” sketch the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment pro­vid­ed looks an awful lot like a Jew­ish per­son, I was booed out of town for being anti-Semit­ic and you know what? They’re right. I real­ly learned some­thing.✦