Gay Propaganda

sub-heading:
Russian Love Stories
Foreword by
GARRY KASPAROV

“This project comes at a really important time. There’s nothing like putting a human face on the struggle for acceptance and equality. Love conquers all.”

—Greg Louganis, quadruple Olympic gold medalist
$16.00
$12.80

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 224 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781939293350
  • E-book ISBN 9781939293367
  • Publication 20 March 2014

about the bookabout

Gay Propaganda brings together original stories, interviews and testimonial, presented in both English and Russian, to capture the lives and loves of LGBT Russians living both in Russia and in exile today. Available in February 2014, in time for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the book is a provocative riposte to Russia’s recently passed and ill-defined ban on “homosexual propaganda.”

As part of a strategy to consolidate political control in Russia following massive pro-democracy protests that shook the government, President Putin’s ruling party decided it needed an enemy to unite the country. Hoping to manipulate backward but widely-held prejudices, it opted to demonize gays and lesbians. As a result, in June 2013, Putin signed a bill banning any and all “propaganda” of so-called non-traditional relationships. Quite predictably, in the months that followed, attacks, firings, and hate crimes have spiked across Russia, and the state-sanctioned campaign shows no sign of abating. The Russian Duma is now debating a law to take children away from gay and lesbian parents.

As the world’s media turns its attention to the host country of the Winter Olympics, the stories gathered in Gay Propaganda offer a timely and intimate window into the hardships faced by Russians on the receiving end of state-sanctioned homophobia. Here are tales of men and women in long-term committed relationships as well as those still looking for love; of those trying to raise kids or taking care of parents; of those facing the challenges of continuing to live in Russia or joining an exodus that is rapidly becoming a flood.


“The most potent weapon in the fight against anti-LGBT prejudice is the reality of who we are instead of the caricatures presented by our opponents. The bigots who seek to censor our reality by banning 'gay propaganda' understand this. So do Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon. Projects like theirs are the most potent weapon in the fight against anti-LGBT prejudice, putting the reality of who we are against the caricatures presented by our prejudiced opponents.”

—Barney Frank

“Following in the proud tradition of 'samizdat' writers such as Václav Havel, Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon's new book Gay Propaganda seeks to do the same for the current, life-or-death struggle confronting gay people in Russia today. By shining a much-needed light on the common humanity of those brave gay men and lesbians seeking to go about their daily lives in Russia, or those who have made the difficult choice to leave, this book puts the lie to the malicious stereotypes currently being spewed by the Russian government.”

—Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court case which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act

“Hundreds of straight athletes from around the world have joined the effort to advance LGBT respect and equality. Every one of them will appreciate the importance of this project. This book is much needed and couldn't come at a better time.”

—Hudson Taylor and Lia Parifax, founders, Athlete Ally

About The Author / Editor

Masha Gessen is an award-winning journalist and author of many books, most recently Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (Riverhead, February 2014). She is a lesbian mother who is abandoning her home in Russia because of the anti-gay laws.

Joseph Huff-Hannon is a celebrated campaigner and writer who has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. He works with the international advocacy group Avaaz.org. He is one of the founding campaigners of global LGBT rights group, All Out.

Read An Excerpt

from ANYA AND NATA

Anya lives with her parents, who often go abroad. Their trips provide her and Natasha with the opportunity to live together for short bursts. Anya’s mother is suspicious of the fact that she doesn’t introduce any of her suitors to her parents. However, she refuses to come to terms with the fact that she will never have a son-in-law. Natasha lives with her grandmother, who is kind to Anya but does not suspect that she and her granddaughter are more than just friends. Anya and Natasha met through a fan fiction community on Livejournal. They used to work together at a children’s café, and they’re in the process of making a book together, but their most important project is partner dancing, with a specialty in “West Coast Swing.”

NATA

… Anya and I met at a Surganova concert, seven years ago. I was part of a dance collective and I invited Anya to join. That’s where it all went down.

ANYA

Once we’d settled into our relationship, we decided to take up partner dancing.

NATA

We saw these two girls dancing together at a party and got really excited about it.

ANYA

Once, we were walking by the Frunzensky Bridge, where every day they play music for anyone who wants to dance. We got next to these people who were doing “Swing Hustle” and started dancing along. Then we found a dance studio for women where they were enrolling new students. We danced there as a couple for a whole year.

NATA

We got into the dance community, where no one cares who you are, where you’re from, or whom you’re sleeping with. They only care that you’re on the same wavelength as they are, that you’re dancing.

ANYA

They taught us to dance about everything. You can dance about love or about the weather. Whatever you want to dance about, you can do it. It’s a free world. This studio was open for another three years, but then there were problems with the space, and enrollment, and then with the law about whatever propaganda, since this was partner dancing for women.

We switched from “Swing Hustle” to “West Coast Swing.” It’s very fluid, like the sea. It stretches out like a wave.

in the media

Gay Propaganda

sub-heading:
Russian Love Stories
Foreword by
GARRY KASPAROV

“This project comes at a really important time. There’s nothing like putting a human face on the struggle for acceptance and equality. Love conquers all.”

—Greg Louganis, quadruple Olympic gold medalist
$16.00
$12.80

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the bookabout

Gay Propaganda brings together original stories, interviews and testimonial, presented in both English and Russian, to capture the lives and loves of LGBT Russians living both in Russia and in exile today. Available in February 2014, in time for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the book is a provocative riposte to Russia’s recently passed and ill-defined ban on “homosexual propaganda.”

As part of a strategy to consolidate political control in Russia following massive pro-democracy protests that shook the government, President Putin’s ruling party decided it needed an enemy to unite the country. Hoping to manipulate backward but widely-held prejudices, it opted to demonize gays and lesbians. As a result, in June 2013, Putin signed a bill banning any and all “propaganda” of so-called non-traditional relationships. Quite predictably, in the months that followed, attacks, firings, and hate crimes have spiked across Russia, and the state-sanctioned campaign shows no sign of abating. The Russian Duma is now debating a law to take children away from gay and lesbian parents.

As the world’s media turns its attention to the host country of the Winter Olympics, the stories gathered in Gay Propaganda offer a timely and intimate window into the hardships faced by Russians on the receiving end of state-sanctioned homophobia. Here are tales of men and women in long-term committed relationships as well as those still looking for love; of those trying to raise kids or taking care of parents; of those facing the challenges of continuing to live in Russia or joining an exodus that is rapidly becoming a flood.


“The most potent weapon in the fight against anti-LGBT prejudice is the reality of who we are instead of the caricatures presented by our opponents. The bigots who seek to censor our reality by banning 'gay propaganda' understand this. So do Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon. Projects like theirs are the most potent weapon in the fight against anti-LGBT prejudice, putting the reality of who we are against the caricatures presented by our prejudiced opponents.”

—Barney Frank

“Following in the proud tradition of 'samizdat' writers such as Václav Havel, Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon's new book Gay Propaganda seeks to do the same for the current, life-or-death struggle confronting gay people in Russia today. By shining a much-needed light on the common humanity of those brave gay men and lesbians seeking to go about their daily lives in Russia, or those who have made the difficult choice to leave, this book puts the lie to the malicious stereotypes currently being spewed by the Russian government.”

—Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court case which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act

“Hundreds of straight athletes from around the world have joined the effort to advance LGBT respect and equality. Every one of them will appreciate the importance of this project. This book is much needed and couldn't come at a better time.”

—Hudson Taylor and Lia Parifax, founders, Athlete Ally

About The Author / Editor

Masha Gessen is an award-winning journalist and author of many books, most recently Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (Riverhead, February 2014). She is a lesbian mother who is abandoning her home in Russia because of the anti-gay laws.

Joseph Huff-Hannon is a celebrated campaigner and writer who has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. He works with the international advocacy group Avaaz.org. He is one of the founding campaigners of global LGBT rights group, All Out.

Read An Excerpt

from ANYA AND NATA

Anya lives with her parents, who often go abroad. Their trips provide her and Natasha with the opportunity to live together for short bursts. Anya’s mother is suspicious of the fact that she doesn’t introduce any of her suitors to her parents. However, she refuses to come to terms with the fact that she will never have a son-in-law. Natasha lives with her grandmother, who is kind to Anya but does not suspect that she and her granddaughter are more than just friends. Anya and Natasha met through a fan fiction community on Livejournal. They used to work together at a children’s café, and they’re in the process of making a book together, but their most important project is partner dancing, with a specialty in “West Coast Swing.”

NATA

… Anya and I met at a Surganova concert, seven years ago. I was part of a dance collective and I invited Anya to join. That’s where it all went down.

ANYA

Once we’d settled into our relationship, we decided to take up partner dancing.

NATA

We saw these two girls dancing together at a party and got really excited about it.

ANYA

Once, we were walking by the Frunzensky Bridge, where every day they play music for anyone who wants to dance. We got next to these people who were doing “Swing Hustle” and started dancing along. Then we found a dance studio for women where they were enrolling new students. We danced there as a couple for a whole year.

NATA

We got into the dance community, where no one cares who you are, where you’re from, or whom you’re sleeping with. They only care that you’re on the same wavelength as they are, that you’re dancing.

ANYA

They taught us to dance about everything. You can dance about love or about the weather. Whatever you want to dance about, you can do it. It’s a free world. This studio was open for another three years, but then there were problems with the space, and enrollment, and then with the law about whatever propaganda, since this was partner dancing for women.

We switched from “Swing Hustle” to “West Coast Swing.” It’s very fluid, like the sea. It stretches out like a wave.

in the media