“Get us the hell out of here,” pleads Russian gay activist Gessen

Mike Signorile did a chilling interview yesterday with Russian journalist and activist Masha Gessen, who thinks things have gotten so bad in Russia that our only hope at this point is to help get as many Russian LGBT exiles out of the country as possible: “get us the hell out of here.”

You can listen to that snippet of the interview here:

In the interview, portions of which Mike posted online, Gessen explains that she and her partner have already sent their oldest child, who is adopted, out of Russia, to avoid any chance that he might be taken away from them after the parliament banned gay adoption earlier this summer.

Russian journalist and activist Masha Gessen speaking at the Queer Nation NY RUSA LGBT Town Hall Meeting, August 21, 2013.

Russian journalist and activist Masha Gessen speaking at the Queer Nation NY RUSA LGBT Town Hall Meeting, August 21, 2013.

But because the Russian parliament is now considering legislation that would permit the authorities to take all children from gay parents, even their biological children, Gessen told Signorile that she had to have a very uncomfortable conversation with her 11 year old daughter this week:

“I had a horrible conversation with my daughter this morning,” Gessen said. “I got the news of this bill while I was sending her off to school. I said, ‘They’ve finally filed the bill.’ Obviously we’ve talked about this at length in the family, and we expected something like this would show up. And she’s 11. She sat there thinking. After about 15 minutes she said, ‘Can I stay with my other mom if they take me away from you?’ She can’t grasp this, that they’re trying to outlaw our whole family, that there isn’t the option of going with one or the other.”

Not surprisingly, former Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev criticized Gessen’s concerns about the safety of her children.


First, as Gessen notes in the video, several weeks ago Alexeyev criticized her concerns about the possibility of such a law being passed.  In fact, shortly after Alexeyev said the law would never happen, the Russian legislature is now debating such a law.  And this isn’t the first time of late that Alexeyev has completely misstated the law of the land.  (More on that below.)

Also, oddly, Alexeyev is upset about not being asked for comment when he declared only a week or so ago that he would no longer speak to what he calls “western” media, especially media in America, like HuffPost:


Thus, there would be no way for Alexeyev to comment, as he already made clear he did not wish to be contacted, and would say no if he were.

Nonetheless, Mike Signorile, who did the interview with Gessen, did in fact approach Alexeyev for an interview, which Alexeyev of course refused because he doesn’t do interviews with Americans.  Signorile even has a copy of their Facebook conversation, in which Alexeyev turned down the interview he now complains he didn’t get:


Which begs the question of why, then, Alexeyev is expressing surprise at not being able to comment on an interview he declined to do?  It almost comes across as disinformation.

This is part of an ongoing series of erratic comments, and behavior, from Alexeyev over the past three weeks, during which he had a social media meltdown that included repeated anti-semitic comments about “kikes,” yids,” and the “Jewish mafia” trying to control the world, in addition to odd comments about Jewish vodka being distilled from sperm.  Sadly, he also now regularly criticizes other gay activists, in Russia and abroad (he yesterday called the Russian LGBT activists who met with President Obama “traitors”), while at the same time defending anti-gays, which earned him the title of “Putin’s defender” from Spanish paper El Pais.

One recent example of Alexeyev inexplicably, and ultimately incorrectly, trying to dismiss concerns about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, was his comments given a week ago to a Kremlin propaganda network in which Alexeyev claimed Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law would never been applied in practice, and thus, in his opinion, gay and trans Russians don’t deserve asylum in America and other countries. He repeated those comments on Twitter:


Putting aside for a moment why a “gay rights activist” would try to undermine asylum requests by gay and trans people abroad, there’s something even more damning here.  Less than 24 hours after Alexeyev claimed that gay propaganda laws will not be applied in Russia, those very same laws were applied, and used to charge a 24 year old gay Russian protester.

Gessen commented on Alexeyev’s bizarre behavior during the interview with Signorile:

“I have great respect for some of the work Nikolai Alexeyev has done in the past,” Gessen said, offering her beliefs on what might have happened to him. “And I have had disagreements with him on many occasions in the past. What I do know is that he’s given every sign of working for the Kremlin right now. Whether he was coerced or blackmailed into doing that through threat of arrest, which exists, through the search of his apartment, which occurred, or seduced by money, at this point he’s being used as a spokesperson by the Kremlin.” (Alexeyev declined a request for an interview.)

You can listen to Gessen’s comments about Alexeyev here:

And in fact, almost simultaneous with Gessen’s comments about Alexeyev came this series of tweets from Alexeyev, in which he almost appears gleeful that G20 leaders were unable to get any pro-LGBT concessions out of Vladimir Putin.  What’s more, Alexeyev seems almost proud of Putin for not helping the country’s gay community :

alexeyev-putin-gay-obamaIt’s clear which Russian gay activist the world should be listening to: Gessen.  Gessen has been right about this entire thing from the beginning, and she brings a journalist’s, and an adult’s, cold hard analysis to the worsening situation in Russia.

I do, however, think that Alexeyev has become a useful barometer of Kremlin opinion.  And thus, the more irate Alexeyev becomes about any particular issue (say, Obama meeting with LGBT activists during the G20, or Gessen’s concern about the new proposed law to take children away from gay parents), the more this may be an indication of Kremlin concern about that issue, and frankly, a sign that we should keep doing what we’re doing.

Call it the “Alexeyev Rule”: Listen to what he has to say, then do the opposite.

Putting his antics aside for a moment, it seems clear that one of our upcoming goals is going to need to be making sure US and European asylum laws are up to the task of helping gay and trans Russian exiles.  Which means gays may have just become relevant to immigration reform once again.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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59 Responses to ““Get us the hell out of here,” pleads Russian gay activist Gessen”

  1. News Nag says:

    Is Alexeyev communicating strictly virtually? Has anyone seen or talked with him in person?

  2. karmanot says:

    Think of it this way. A million gay immigrants might qualitatively raise the American cesspool of a culture.

  3. blzlovr says:

    Russians have many pro LGBT countries to choose from to escape from draconian Russian laws.

  4. RyansTake says:

    not everything is about you

  5. RyansTake says:

    Not running away, a tactical retreat. They can argue their cause from other shores and do so without risk of being disappeared. You can’t be an activist if you’re disappeared.

  6. RyansTake says:

    Can we stop paying attention to this Alexeyev? He doesn’t merit the attention.

  7. RyansTake says:

    Millions of people spread around the world is not an impossibility, far from it.

    We, the human species living in countries that recognize the importance of equality, have a moral obligation to figure it out.

  8. Thom Allen says:

    Are you suggesting that Russian gays fight back physically against the Russian police and military? And how effective would fighting back be when one gay person is set upon by a group ofRussian vigilantes as police watch?

  9. Thom Allen says:

    “Monitoring”? Hardly, I’m reading your replies and responding to them. IF you think by referring to you as “Alexeyev” is an attack, you’re wrong. Is “Alexeyev” a bad word in Russian? And paranoid. Again, you have shown no evidence that “homophobes” are exploiting anything. Homophobes and bigots will continue to attack us with real and imagined evidence as they have in the past and continue to do today.

  10. Thom Allen says:

    JayRandal, I clearly explained why I related your remarks to Alexeyev’s. It had nothing to do with his anti-Semitic remarks. It had to do with you wanting to direct what we can say and then ordering us to stop disagreeing with other gays. Then you made the comment that, our disagreements sparked bigotry, etc. Clearly, you don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, what I said.

    BTW, you still haven’t given any justification for your statement about our disagreements causing anti-gay violence.

  11. Anonymous says:

    While I don’t disagree with Masha, I don’t think it will be possible to give millions of gay people asylum. I’m usually an optimist, so it’s hard to admit this. I think the best thing would be to make sure these bills are not passed. If they are, it will be very hard to appeal every case of children being taken away.

  12. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Let’s be honest. You were attacked because you said you wanted that one guy to come and get in your bed. You were basing it totally on the guys appearance.

  13. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    That’s a really good point. It’s just so painful to watch and not do more than we’re doing.

  14. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Dan Savage got it right. The problem is dicks. Those things tend to do the thinking for us. It doesn’t matter if it is a gay or a straight dick.

  15. Clevelandchick says:

    You’re younger in common sense and that’s not a good thing.

  16. Clevelandchick says:

    So how does running away help the future gays in Russia? There are gay people born every day in every country. So the gay people living their now leave…then what does that leave the gay people of next year and the year after?

  17. Clevelandchick says:

    Sweetie, gays aren’t any more promiscuous than straights. Really, that’s the truth.

  18. Clevelandchick says:

    Sounds like he’s being a ‘useful idiot’….maybe they got to him, maybe threatened family and friends and if that’s the case, I can’t say I blame him because I don’t know if I could handle loved ones being hurt because of my actions. I think it’s obvious he’s being used by the gov’t at this point…either willingly or under duress. We’ll never know the truth I imagine.

  19. Clevelandchick says:

    Well, in that case he really can’t be considered a gay activist can he? The bill that was proposed he said wouldn’t be was, it’s about to be passed…it will pass because the country is in Hitler mode. So regardless of his circumstances, he’s no longer a credible voice or an activist.

  20. JayRandal says:

    One of the reasons I work out to deter homophobes thinking they could beat me up. Last time some
    bigot messed with me I said I would mop the floor with him. He backed off fast. Gays have to learn to fight back to stop being victimized.

  21. karmanot says:

    Oh please, catch up.

  22. JayRandal says:

    Calling me an Alexeyev is kind of nutty because he fumes about Jews. I am NOT
    a racist NOR a sell out like that Russian guy. Personally attacking anybody on here is childish and boring.

  23. JayRandal says:

    Thom wow you monitoring me on here? Personal attacks on here are wrong guy. Gays attacking each other sows divisions that homophobes can exploit.
    If it makes you happy to attack me so be it. I have been called every bad word
    imaginable by homophobes so just saddens me for Gays to do it too.

  24. Thom Allen says:

    You wrote: “I also have been noticing on this site some Gays attacking other Gays like me. Stop it since
    it fuels bigots and encourages violence against all Gays.” If I disagree with your views, or verbally attack you, I am allowed to do that. You don’t seem to get that. Nor do you understand that you can’t order others to do what you want. That’s very much like Alexeyev.

    Russia has a long history (both as the USSR and as Romanov Russia) of disappearing people into gulags and state psychiatric hospitals – it’s an art form with Russians. Along with denial and blatant propaganda.

    And where’s your evidence that gays disagreeing with other gays fuels bigotry and incites anti-gay violence?

  25. JayRandal says:

    LOL karmanot – I am a older Gay guy but younger in spirit and body. You anger too easily and become enraged easily too. Dim-wit I am NOT. Stop personal attacks it makes you look cheap.

  26. JayRandal says:

    karmanot – Getting equal rights for Gays to marry achieves acceptance of society. Bigoted homophobes would like all Gays to remain closeted or die.

  27. JayRandal says:

    Thom Allen – LOL I didn’t proclaim persons on here not allowed to post their opinions.
    I said personal attacks are wrong. Alexeyev in Russia has been told to back government or he probably gets killed. As for propaganda lots of it going around
    but I am not involved in it. Believe or not guy you can get disappeared here too.
    Homophobic bigots nationwide are active to harm Gays.

  28. Thom Allen says:


  29. Thom Allen says:

    JayRandal, you sound very much like Alexeyev. “All gays must agree
    with me, so shut up and I’ll do the talking.” Are you at all familiar
    with the way things work in the US? Apparently not. We’re all supposed
    to give up our freedom of speech because you say so? Gays aren’t “allowed”
    (by you) to disagree with each other or rebut your statements? I don’t
    think so.

    What is your evidence that gays disagreeing with other gays incites people to anti-gay violence and fuels bigotry? Russian LGBTs seemed to be cohesive, before the drunken/crazed/hacked/coopted/bought off Alexeyev started attacking other gays. And the Russians were every bit as
    bigoted and violent toward the LGBTs then as they are now. No, your statements sound very much like propaganda for which, in Mother(fucker) Russia, you would be disappeared.

  30. karmanot says:

    My nastiness is easily aroused by the ‘me’ generation, uniformed, narcissistic dim wits, who assume opinion is fact and any fact is a reflection on themselves. True thoroughbreds assume that worldly muts are their soul sojourners. I’m too old to be desperate, but even so have never experienced that trait except in customs lines re-entering America. BTW, I was gay and fought for your rights even before you were crapping your diapers.

  31. karmanot says:

    “Gays who are falling in love and marrying help to bring being Gay as OK into the mainstream.” Oh, so wrong for all the right reasons. Who gives a flying f*ck about accommodating the mainstream.

  32. Mark_in_MN says:

    The tweets by Alexeyev quoted here read more like propaganda than anything else. He could have been co-opted in some way, but it could also mean he doesn’t have control of the account any longer. Such a possibility could be one way to make some sense of the inconsistency of both refusing to give an interview and complaining that he wasn’t asked for comment.

  33. JayRandal says:

    You are a mean mutt like your pic karmanot lol. As for desperate that is you guy not me. If you are even actually Gay who would tolerate your nastiness?

  34. JayRandal says:

    John you should advocate in Washington-DC for Russian Gays to be given asylum in US.Telling them to risk their lives protesting can get them killed.

  35. JayRandal says:

    karmanot just so you know outside of living in San Francisco a lot of bigotry against Gays. Past few years I have seen more hostility than usual. I believe biggest problem is flagrant promiscuous lifestyle of Gays like my ex-partner in SF are causing backlash on Gays everywhere else. Gays who are falling in love and marrying help to bring being Gay as OK into the mainstream. Far-right homophobes want Gays back in the closet.

  36. karmanot says:

    Straight Grandmother is probably right, the Vodka rot has unleashed the garbage within. That’s what Rocky, Bullwinkle and Bodhi Dog think.

  37. Michael Petrelis says:

    Be sure to check out the photos, report and short vid about our vigil
    for LGBT citizens of Russia before the show last night at the SF Opera.
    We had a ball and thank the patrons and SF Opera company management for
    their personal support:


  38. karmanot says:

    Honey, if you want a Russian husband go to Craig’s List and look under desperate.

  39. karmanot says:

    Aren’t you just the little martyr.

  40. karmanot says:

    It doesn’t matter now. He a a collaborating ass-hat, who has absolutely no credibility and should be dropped from any discussion.

  41. BeccaM says:

    Does it matter which it is? Regardless of motivation, either way, Alexeyev’s misinformation needs to be refuted and dismissed as unreliable, counterproductive, undermining BS.

  42. AhContraire says:

    Are homosexual acts really the same as being left handed or right handed?
    Are homosexual acts really the same as having black skin color or white skin color?
    Are homosexual acts really the same as having curly hair or straight hair?

    Or, are homosexual acts really the same as being UNCLEAN or CLEAN?

    That is, Doesn’t the medical community recommend that you, “Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.”?

    Yet, now there are some in the medical community that now say it’s OK to “Sleep with the waste that gets flushed down in the toilet?” and that it’s possible to live a perfectly normal life.

    And for you medical students:
    That orifice, where #2 objects are expelled from, is meant to have objects pass in one direction only and very very infrequently. Certainly not in two directions and certainly not at high speed, nor with high repetitions. Yet if this happens, then that skin has a tendency to tear easily, hence, blood to feces contact, which is a medically dangerous contact.

    The orifice where #2 objects are expelled was “born that way”, just in case you didn’t know.

    And for the lesbians, HPV causes oral cancer and is on the rise according to the CDC via unclean practices.


  43. Hue-Man says:

    Masha Gessen has been a frequent guest on CBC. Here’s the link for her most recent interview at the beginning of August on CBC Radio’s Q (with Jian Ghomeshi but here with his summer replacement, Stephen Quinn) – she’s first after the intro. http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/ID/2399615944/ Use the CBC Search function to hear more.

  44. Tony says:

    Before everyone goes completely nuts over Alexeyev and other Russian LGBT activists who may behave similarly, I think it is very important to keep in mind that he might be being threatened or coerced by the government. He may be making such statement to protect himself or family members.

  45. Naja pallida says:

    It’s funny how they can just adjust the system whenever they want for political purposes, but when it comes to doing anything about millions of people who are already here, fixing the immigration system is all but impossible.

  46. FLL says:

    Immediately after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the federal government certainly revised its immigration policy to make it easier for Haitians to immigrate to the U.S. The federal government did the same thing during the Colombian civil war of the mid-1990s, when it made it much easier for Colombians to receive asylum in the U.S. Now it’s time for the federal government to be fair and offer LGBT Russians and their allies the same assistance that other groups were offered. Anything less would be a double standard.

  47. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Here’s what I think the US should do. Announce the following. 1) LGBT Russians will be considered for asylum in the US. 2) Russians who advocate violations of basic human rights (which would specifically include the banning of freedom of speech, protest, etc. by LGBT persons in PUBLIC in Russia shall be barred from entering the USA (this would include the Russian Orthodox Church leaders and Duma members). 3) In order to pay for resettlement costs, Russians entering the USA in business or first class shall be subject to a 5000 dollar entrance tax per entry. Russian citizens entering the USA on a private jet shall be subject to a 100,000 dollar entrance fee per entry per passenger. 4) Groups advocating denials of basic human rights or passing funds through to those who do shall not be eligible for tax free donations and must publish all sources of funding. This would include the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the World Congress of Families, and C-FAM.

  48. BeccaM says:

    Whatever the reasons and causes, Alexeyev has become compromised. Maybe he’s a “useful barometer” of some kind, but as a spokesman for LGBT Russians and activists? No longer.

    I’ve also noticed increasing egotism on his part, where everything is about him.

    I agree with Gessen: It’s now time to help assure political asylum for LGBT Russians.

  49. JayRandal says:

    I agree Cicada, but got attacked on another thread for calling for Grachev guy to come to US.

  50. JayRandal says:

    See Russian Gays desire to escape from their homophobic country. Unfortunately homophobes in US too that would like to beat up Gays. Kind of a pogrom on Gays in several countries now nut just in Russia. I also have been noticing on this site some Gays attacking other Gays like me. Stop it since
    it fuels bigots and encourages violence against all Gays.

  51. Indigo says:

    It’s very distressing and part of the distress is the indifference of our government. The only thing on the US government agenda now is the “moral obligation” to throw bombs at Syria. We’re not likely to see any humanitarian effort on behalf of the gay community in Russia. We’re likely to see more evidence of the pogrom, though, and eventually, some murderous action but by then . . .

  52. Skeptical Cicada says:

    We should totally be granting asylum to all Russian gays.

  53. Leota2 says:

    Chilling . . . .
    What is going on in Russia will only get worse.
    Alexeyev should have left the country before he became an embarrassing
    pawn for Putin. At any minute he’ll start showing up to smile for cameras when
    children are being taken from their parents.

  54. Badgerite says:

    Maybe he has a brain tumor. Seriously. WTF. I’m becoming a big fan of Masha Gessen.

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