“Tchaikovsky was gay. So what?,” says Putin

Russia’s pride in composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, even though he was gay, is proof that the country does not discriminate against homosexuals, President Vladimir Putin said. He was apparently seeking to ease concerns that a new law banning “gay propaganda” will be used to clamp down on gay rights. The law has been condemned abroad and brought calls from gay rights groups for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

But opinion polls show it is backed by most Russians and the measure is part of a conservative course charted by Putin to consolidate support following protests against his 13-year rule.

“Tchaikovsky was gay – although it’s true that we don’t love him because of that – but he was a great musician and we all love his music. So what?,” Putin said in an interview with Russian state Channel 1 television aired on Wednesday [September 4].

“There is no cause to make a mountain out of a molehill, nothing scary or terrible is happening here in our country.”

Asked whether he would meet members of the gay and lesbian community, Putin said: “I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes.”

Putin’s critics say the law is one of a string of repressive measures introduced by the former KGB spy in the first year of his third presidential term that clamp down on dissent, violate gay rights and restrain non-governmental organizations.

The criticism has overshadowed preparations for the Sochi Olympics – a priority for Putin – who wants it to show Russia as a modern state with top-notch infrastructure.

Amnesty International called on Wednesday for G20 leaders gathering in St. Petersburg this week to condemn what it dubbed a “homophobic law.” The human rights watchdog said the law would allow for state-sponsored discrimination, promotes a climate of intolerance, and encouraged violence by vigilante groups.

Source: Reuters, September 4

P.S. The official version of Tchaikovsky’s death is that he died of the cholera in 1893 at the age of 53. However, since 1979, various stories began circulating that he really committed suicide as a result of a sentence imposed in a “court of honour” by fellow alumni of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, as a censure of the composer’s homosexuality.

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3 responses to ““Tchaikovsky was gay. So what?,” says Putin

  1. David Schatzky

    Putin could have pointed to many more gay Russian icons.
    But what does this list prove?
    Not much.

    Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584)
    Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852, writer)
    Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81, composer)
    Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948, filmmaker)
    Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929, impresario)
    Sergei Nabokov (brother of the writer)
    Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950, dancer)
    Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997, pianist)
    Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993, dancer)

  2. Dying of Cholera and committing suicide are not mutually exclusive. There are people who claim that he knowingly neglected to boil the drinking water, which was a necessary precaution to surviving the epidemic in Moscow at the time. He would not have been the first person to kill himself that way — there is a famous Russian explorer who did just that when he found his physical abilities waning. Don’t forget the Pathetique Symphony, his last large work, is a study in deep depression if ever there were one. However, the circumstances of Tchaikovsky’s death are simply not clear. There is some possibility that he died of kidney inflammation, for example. If anyone needs to follow this up, one way to start would be to read Tchaikovsky’s Last Days: a Documentary Study, by Alexander Poznanzky (1996, Clarenden Press [Ox. University Press], which includes a whole chapter titled “Hearsay.”
    Poznansky, by the way, demolishes the notion of a Court of Honor.