Author Masha Gessen is leaving her home in Russia and moving to the United States with her partner and three children. Gessen is the courageous author of the book entitled The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and has been the only openly gay family in Russia. The recent Russian crackdown on the LGBT community and rumours of taking children away from homosexual families have led to this decision. Up until a year ago, the outspoken Gessen had vowed to remain In Russia and was quoted as saying, “This is my home, Putin can leave. I’m staying.” Now Gessen has decided that Russia has become a place without hope. “I can do the work in Russia, and I would do the work in Russia, but I have three kids and it’s one thing to bring up your kids in a place that’s risky and difficult; I think in many ways it’s enriching them, and I’m glad my kids have that experience. It’s another thing to bring up your kids in a place that’s hopeless. Now that I’ve lost hope, I need to take them out.”
The Russia of today is extremely homophobic. In addition to facing widespread animosity and frequent violence, gay Russians now fear that they will be stripped of their voice and public face. The new federal law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” was approved unanimously except for one abstention in June. It is another manifestation of a long-standing culture of homophobia that is fueled by the state-controlled media.
Under the new law, it is punishable by fine to speak openly about gays and lesbians among young people, which effectively outlaws gay-pride marches, speeches and the like. Amid demonstrations to protest the controversial law, Moscow police came down hard on gay-rights activists who demonstrated in front of their parliament.
For long-time author, gay rights proponent, and openly Lesbian mother, Masha Gellen- Russia has now become a place without hope for social justice.