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.✦