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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Anti-Gay Horrors, All But Forgotten BY ED SIKOV

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rom a horrifying, maddening article in the New Yorker by the great Masha Gessen: “In October, 2017, a young man named Maxim Lapunov spoke at a press conference in Moscow. Flanked by LGBT and human rights activists, Lapunov, shaky but collected, told the story of being kidnapped in the street in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, and being held by the police for twelve days and tortured. ‘They started beating me with batons,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure how long it lasted, but it was a long time…. They hit my legs, hips, buttocks, back. They would hit me until I fell down, let me catch my breath, make me stand up, and start over.’” Lapunov, Gessen notes, “is the only person to come forward as a victim of the anti-gay purges in Chechnya.” But he is scarcely alone in being victimized. (See related story, page 11.) According to Gessen, “What happened to Lapunov is by no means exceptional: kidnapping, torture, and even extrajudicial killings are the norm in Chechnya, as it is the norm for Russian federal authori-

ties to ignore these practices.” She cites a report by an Austrian academic, Wolfgang Benedek: “The report focuses on the anti-gay persecutions, which, it suggests, are incited by the Russian federal law against so-called propaganda of homosexuality, but also on trumped-up prosecutions and on extrajudicial killings. Twentyseven men were killed in Grozny on one night in January 2017, the report indicates; they were suspected of ‘terrorist’ activity and summarily executed. Two cases of torture are given as examples of a general practice: ‘Khizir Ezhiev, a senior economics lecturer at the Grozny State Oil Technical University, who reportedly was abducted, tortured and killed, after having participated in a group on social media which was critical of the [Chechen] Republic’s leader, Mr. [Ramzan] Kadyrov. Another case is the reported abduction and torture of Khusein Betelgeriev, a former senior faculty member at the Chechen State University.’” As Benedek writes, “Reports of a general practice of humiliation, inhuman treatment, and torture in order to obtain confessions are confirmed by victims and witnesses, in particular with regard to certain groups like LGBT persons,

alleged drug users, Islamists, and suspected terrorists, including human rights defenders and journalists. The use of electric shocks is a constant pattern which anybody picked up by the police has to expect. Cases of kidnapping and enforced disappearances exist in the context of extra-judicial killings and during the illegal detentions after which people might reappear.” Gessen’s conclusion is depressing, to say the least: “Following an initial wave of international attention in 2017 to the fate of LGBT Chechens, when Canada and several European countries welcomed more than a hundred refugees, offers of protection have dried up. Dozens of currently displaced LGBT Chechens will continue to struggle to find a safe haven.” In other words, it has been over a year since these horrors came to light, and since then — nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s an international disgrace. From the terrifying to the ridiculous: You’re the Queer in My Coffee… Well, Starbucks has done it again. The company that gave the world the horrific Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino has taken a perfectly good

holiday and destroyed it by designing and handing out deliberately offensive coffee cups to mark the occasion. Never let it be said that Vanessa Wong of BuzzFeed News is slacking off. No ma’am. She’s relentlessly pursuing the hidden truth of the Starbucks coffee cup design, no matter who gets hurt. “People are saying Starbucks new Holiday cup is totally gay,” she writes aggressively. The design in question is a busy affair with a Christmas tree visible — a totally decorated Christmas tree I might add — and a group of packages all tied together with a ribbon, and of course the famous green-colored Starbucks logo of a crowned woman with long flowing hair (a two-tailed mermaid, as it turns out — who knew?). But none of that is the least bit offensively gay-themed. It’s the two arms reaching down from the top of the cup, with their hands holding each other, and the lovely if cartoonish heart between them, that’s causing the uproar. It must be acknowledged that Starbucks introduced the new cup design for the holidays in a video containing a same-sex couple holding hands. But whether the hands are the same hands as on the coffee cup is a completely different mat-

➤ MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.19

PERSPECTIVE: Insider Trading

Women New York Must Honor BY ALLEN ROSKOFF

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n the city’s bid to increase the number of statues of women, there will be one erected for the late Congressmember Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Chisholm was the first black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman — in 1972 — to seek the Democratic nomination for president. Chisholm deserves a statue; she broke many a barrier. In 1972, at the height of her campaign, our community was gathering support for the New York City gay rights bill from candidates, including those running for president. Chisholm was standoffish initially but her prominent GayCityNews.nyc | January 03 - January 16, 2019

supporter Gloria Steinem stepped in and successfully convinced her of the bill’s importance as a civil rights issue. I am confident that Steinem, a living legend and a trailblazer for women’s and LGBTQ rights, will, in years to come, be taught about as part of American history. Steinem testified for passage of the gay rights bill each and every time it was brought up for a vote at the City Council. Contrast this with her contemporary Betty Friedan, who did what she could to make lesbians invisible out of fear that all feminists would be perceived as lesbian. For the past decade or so, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club has been advocating for a

federal building to named for the late Bella Abzug, who meant much to us in the early movement days. Abzug was a foremost leader of the women’s movement, an early supporter of LGBTQ rights, and an activist in the anti-war movement. Abzug represented roughly the district now represented by Jerry Nadler. Though the city recently co-named Bank Street, where she lived for many years, after Abzug, her name adorns no public buildings. There is one named after the late Representative Ted Weiss, who left no sort of legacy and is remembered by few. Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan, who defeated Abzug by 1.1 percent in the 1976 Senate Democratic primary, is getting Penn Station named af-

ter him. Moynihan was the architect of benign neglect, meaning letting blacks fend for themselves, while he served as an advisor to President Richard Nixon — yes, President Richard Nixon. He described “a virulent form of antiwhite feeling” among “black lower classes” and even “portions of the large and prospering black middle class.” Given his notorious habits as a “serious” drinker — and often a nasty one (I witnessed that on numerous occasions) — I think it suitable that there be a huge bar erected in the new Penn Station in honor of the late senator. What he has done to merit the naming of Penn Station after him boggles the mind. To his credit, Moynihan did sur-

➤ INSIDER TRADING, continued on p.19

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Profile for Schneps Media

Gay City News - January 3, 2019  

January 3, 2019

Gay City News - January 3, 2019  

January 3, 2019