Mr. Putin, Welcome to Lady Gaga's House
Reacting to reports of the abusive treatment of gays seemingly sanctioned by anti-gay measures enacted by the administration of President Putin, both Madonna and Lady Gaga used appearances in Russia last year to issue statements of solidarity with the Russian LGBT community.
"Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house," Lady Gaga told fans in a Russian venue in December of last year.
"Gay people here and all around the world have the same rights," Madonna said from the stage, to a cheering St. Petersburg crowd earlier in that year.In response, Russian authorities have now accused both stars of violating their tourist visas by working in the country, a technicality that would likely have been overlooked but for their outspoken support of gays. Under laws enacted by Putin, it is illegal to speak out in support of gay rights. Any support is viewed as spreading unhealthy "propaganda" and may be punished by fines or jail time. It is also illegal for Russian children to be adopted by gay couples or by single parents in countries that support gay rights. The visa status accusations have given the appearance that Russian authorities are unwilling to challenge the two American stars on an international stage specifically on the issues of gay rights and freedom of speech. On Monday, after the investigation into her visa status was announced, Lady Gaga shot back a series of defiant responses via Twitter:
Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia. The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia?— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 5, 2013
The Russian government is criminal. Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom.— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 5, 2013
Why didn't you arrest me when you had the chance, Russia? Because you didn't want answer to the world?— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 5, 2013In my column last Friday, I interviewed Andrew Rudin who has launched a petition calling on the Metropolitan Opera to dedicate to the LGBT community its opening gala performance Sept. 23 of 19th century gay Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. That performance involves two leading Russian artists who are caught in the middle, having been outspoken Putin supporters in the past but working closely with an international opera world community that includes many openly gay collaborators. So far, the Met hasn't responded. But since that article was published last Friday, the petition has gained over 1,200 signatures, bringing the total to 1,458 as of Thursday morning. The opera house relies on ticket sales, subscriptions and donations. In a theater with only 3,800 seats, even a few angry subscribers can make a significant impression.
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