New legislation introduced by Duma proposes banning homosexuals from public displays of affection. They would be fined for kissing, holding hands, or any intimate touching otherwise permitted amongst heterosexual partners. In the eyes of the bill’s authors, homosexuality is a western ideology purposefully planted in the minds of Russia’s youth in order to slowly reduce the country’s population.
But even before the Duma voted on the homophobic bill, and before any police began to grab gays for holding hands or kissing in public, many homosexuals withdrew deeper into hiding, away from the eyes of strangers. Fewer and fewer people are brave enough to demonstrate in the streets with rainbow flags. They’ve seen the violent attacks and beatings inflicted on dozens of LGBT activists all across the country. In the provinces, it’s rare to find any place where gays can congregate openly.
But the city of Sochi, the Black Sea resort that was the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics, was until recently something of an exception. It was generally less homophobic, and it had at least one night spot, the Kabaret Mayak, that openly positioned itself as a gay club. It offered great food, friendly service and some of best variety shows in the country.
Now, that’s over. After more than a decade, the gay couple who own the club, Andrei Tanichev and Roman Kochagov, have decided to move their establishment to a hotel restaurant and change its famous status. “Our new bar is not going to be a gay club, but it will stay tolerant and welcome guests with any sexual orientation,” Kochagov told The Daily Beast.