Gay glossy The Advocate has
named Vladimir Putin its “Person of the Year.”
An image of Putin with the caption
“PERSON OF THE YEAR” strategically placed above his upper lip to
make the Russian leader appear more like Adolf Hitler graces the
cover of The Advocate's December/January issue.
In the accompanying cover story, Jeremy
Laybarger describes Putin as “the single greatest threat to LGBTs
in the world in 2014” and includes at least one Nazi comparison.
“In language disturbingly reminiscent
of Nazi propaganda, [Putin] told reporters in January that anything
that gets in the way of Russia's population growth should be 'cleaned
up.' In addition to LGBT undesirables, Russia's ethnic minorities
also pose a threat, as do freethinkers who openly critique the
regime,” Laybarger wrote.
Of course, Putin has supported, even
promoted, the nation's current crackdown on gays. But did he throw
Russia's anti-gay sentiment into overdrive or is he merely exploiting
deeply held stereotypes for political gain?
Laybarger turned to Tanya Cooper, a
researcher with Human Rights Watch, for answers.
“When politicians, celebrities and
respectable journalists in Russia tell you repeatedly, either on
television or in print, that gay people are perverts, sodomites and
pedophiles, you just believe it,” she said.
“The attack on the LGBT community in
Russia started almost simultaneously with the attack on civil society
and the demonizing of NGO's as foreign agents,” she added
elsewhere. “There was a campaign to expose all the evils of
Western culture and say that immigrants, liberals who get their
inspiration from Western political culture and LGBT people are all
Western exports and therefore alien to Russia.”
Laybarger concludes with the grim
reality that Putin isn't going away for another decade.
The enemy of Russia's LGBT activists
“is an eternal KGB agent with dreams of empire, a pragmatist and
sportsman who crushes his opposition while still incongruously
proclaiming, as he did in a New York Times op-ed, '[We] are
all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not
forget that God created us equal.'”