Editors' Note:Guest blogger John R. Selig is a gay dad, writer, photographer, podcaster and activist living in Dallas, Texas. Selig produces his "John Selig Outspoken" podcast to provide role models to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
I am Jewish. In 1935 my father at the age of ten along with his parents fled Hamburg, Germany to New York. On my dad's 18th birthday he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (which later became the U.S. Air Force). Dad was a tail gunner on a B-17. His plane was shot down and he spent a year in a German POW camp where it was known he was a Jew.
As the Allies entered Germany, my dad and others in his camp had to walk across Germany to another POW Camp. He got frostbite because of the long walk and earned a Purple Heart. Without aid from the Red Cross my dad would have starved to death in the POW camps.
I often look through his scrapbook that includes telegrams to my grandmother telling her that her only child was missing in action and later a prisoner of war along with censored letters from Dad to my grandmother while he was a POW, newspaper clippings, his training records, his purple heart and dog tags (showing that he was Jewish), photos of Dad and his flight crew and even a ticket stub to a Bob Hope UOS concert.
I had family that died in the gas chambers in Germany. I also had family that emigrated from Russia in the 1800s because of pogroms against Jews. I have often thought that my being on the planet is nothing short of a miracle.
Although I am not into religion of any kind I still identify very much as a Jew ethnically. I know that I have faced workplace discrimination during my career for being Jewish as well as for being gay. If anybody should be wary of Nikolai Alexseev it should be me.
I interviewed Nikolai for my John Selig Outspoken podcast last Friday. I have been in frequent email contact with Nikolai for four years. Nikolai will be in Dallas this Friday and I look forward to spending time with him as well as my friend Andy Thayer who has stood with Nikolai during the last to Pride events in Moscow.
If I believed that Nikolai were an anti-Semite I would certainly have difficulty supporting him. However, I have seen no proof that he is one. Scott Long is scum in my opinion after the way he maliciously attacked Peter Tachell's reputation. Peter is a great LGBT and progressive activist in the UK who has been fighting for our rights for over 40 years. Because of his vicious vendetta against Peter, Long "resigned" from his position at Human Rights Watch last August and the organization apologized to Peter.
I find it extremely disheartening as well as disgusting that so many people seem to be enjoying ripping Nikolai to shreds. I have often said that if gays didn't have so many people attacking us that we would destroy each other.
The behavior of so many people towards Nikolai is a perfect illustration of this. Should Nikolai have responded to questions when they surfaced over the weekend? As a marketing professional with a bunch of PR and media relations experience in the LGBT community I would have to say definitely yes. But Nikolai is a proud Russian and his culture is different from ours. In America events unfold quickly and PR specialists are always trying to fix situations that develop in time for the next news cycle. It took Nikolai a few days to grab hold of the accusations and offer his explanation.
I for one am willing to give Nikolai the benefit of the doubt unless somebody can provide better proof than what has been flung back and forth over the past few days.
I strongly support the right of Israel to exist. Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years and have never had a safe haven. However, the Israeli government's support of Mubarak was obviously self-serving and I can understand many people including many Jews in the U.S. disagreeing with that policy. I was personally outraged by Prime Minister Netanyahu's support for Mubarak and I said so to my husband and to friends. Nobody called me an anti-Semite for expressing my disgust.
My support of Israel's right to exist doesn't mean that I support the way Israel treats the Palestinians, it doesn't mean that I support building homes on occupied territories and it most certainly doesn't mean that I agree with its support of dictators just because they are friendly towards Israel.
Neither do I support U.S. foreign policy that supports dictators and leaders with terrible human rights abuses just because they let us have military bases in their country and they keep the oil flowing nor do I support having a defense budget equal to that of the defense budget of the rest of the countries in the world combined.
I don't believe that my opinions make me un-American.
At times I find the way we in the gay community attack each other to be as painful to watch as a little kid torturing an animal. Must we always eat our own? Before attacking Nikolai, please look in the mirror and see if your side of the street is perfectly clean.
Now if anybody has proof other than the crap flung by Scott Long, which in my mind has about as much credibility as a commentary by Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, please share it. Otherwise, please let Nikolai make good use of his time in the U.S. rather than having to refute continuous attacks around the clock.