Guest Blogger

In Defense of Nikolai Alexseev

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 03, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-Semitic remarks, anti-Semitism, Nikolai Alexseev, russian activist

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.

john-selig.jpgI 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 read about and watched Nikolai's comments at Columbia University the other night and request that you do as well:



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.


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Scott Long is scum

I commented on Karen's post on this dust-up and mentioned that the Americans and British who care about other country's LGBT issues, for some reason, really, really hate Scott Long. Yeah, he had a public dispute with Peter Tatchell a few years ago, and he apologized, and he left HRW (although there's really no proof that that was because of the fracas with Tatchell). Long did lots of good work while at HRW too, especially when it came to documenting and shaming governments on LGBT issues, but apparently that counts for nothing.

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.

Um, er, you're the one who just called a gay activist "scum," and you think that we have a problem with attacking each other?

I'm amazed, though, why we haven't heard other Russian gay activists defend Alekseev throughout this whole thing. If someone like Mike Rogers went abroad and was accused of saying something like that, I imagine there'd be Americans who'd have his back. Is Alekseev really that cut off from other Russian gays? Are the people in the US who seem to care about Russian LGBT rights not aware of activists in that country besides Alekseev?

Anyway, as I said in Karen's thread, this whole thing is a bunch of silly that stems a sentence that barely says anything, possibly poorly translated, and definitely out of context.

My original assessment was that these people deserve each other. I haven't seen much that contradicts that.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 4, 2011 6:07 AM

If I remember correctly Scott Lang became a pariah in our movement for defending the Iranian ayatollah's murder of Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18. Both were Iranian teenagers publicly hanged on July 19, 2005. They were murdered after being convicted of raping a 13-year old boy by an islamist kangaroo court. False charges of rape are common in trials of gays men by theocrats. Admitting that gays sex could be consenual would promote the idea that some muslims and Iranians are gay, a fact denied by theocratic swine like Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

At the time Scott Longs HRW 'agreed' with muslim theocrats, saying that "There is no evidence that this was a consensual act," and observed that "The bulk of evidence suggests that the youths were tried on allegations of raping a 13-year-old, with the suggestion that they were tried for consensual homosexual conduct seemingly based almost entirely on mistranslations and on cursory news reporting magnified by the Western press. Human Rights Watch also stated that it was "deeply disturbed by the apparent indifference of many people to the alleged rape of a 13-year old."

That was treason on a level so outrageous that HRW was compromised and so was the good work it does. Anything Long has to say, except his apology to Tatchell, has been stained by HRWs acceptance of the islamist courts bigotry.

I don't think you can just say "This person said X" and have everyone agree that it was treason. Do you have proof that Long was wrong? Or that his intentions were homophobic? Because it's too common to see people being labeled traitors to the cause just because they think for themselves or come to different conclusions than others.

Also, I'm going to guess that HRW was against the execution, since they're against the death penalty.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 4, 2011 3:56 PM

Alex, I didn't demand or even ask 'everyone' to agree with me - I expressed my opinion that HRW's actions were treason. I'm not sure if Long wrote the policy on the two murdered teens. So I blamed it on HRW and noted that he was a leader. In my opinion agreeing with the Ayatollahs is high treason.

I suspect that the ayatollahs lied about them. I have no proof because I didn't see anything and have never even been to Iran. To me it seems likely that the bloodthirsty islamists who've killed so many GLBT folks, workers, women, youth and students might be capable of a lie or two to excuse their, what, ethnic cleansing campaign?, pogroms? against us. I'm going with my instincts and the fact that rightwing and theocrat leaders often lie, but only when they're awake. I see no need to agree with the ayatollahs.

Nor was I in Berlin the night of the Reichstag fire, but it seems clear that the Nazis, not some innocent communist cobbler, set the fire an excuse to destroy the KPD. The Enabling Act was passed by the Reichstag and signed by von Hindenburg on 24 March 1933 granting Hitler wide personal powers. He was allowed a four year reign to enact decrees, laws, and make treaties. The Reichstag itself and the Constitution was subsumed to his decrees which could be about any subject.

Inevitable Nazi reference in one, two, three...oh, here we go.

But yes, Alex, to your sensible question: HRW was against the execution - everybody was against the execution; I defy anyone to find proof of the opposite. To point out that this was not a specifically gay execution was not to "side with the Ayatollahs," as some of the more Manichean and simplistic commenters then and now like to phrase it. HRC, on the other hand was explicitly asked by Richard Kim if they would have said anything if the men were proven to not be gay, and their response, in essence, was that they wouldn't have given a damn about them if that were the case.

Which is to say, the far more monstrous response came from HRC, but nobody wants to address that as they continue with their silly game of "Let's blame Scott Long, who has actually been to these countries several times, has a world of contacts everywhere, speaks several of the languages, and/or has reliable sources who do, is highly respected, and who has decades' worth of experience - for everything! And let's act like the rest of us armchair "activists" flaming him in our comments threads, who wouldn't know the difference between Iran and Iraq if pressed, act like we actually know more than him!"

At any rate, I think it's becoming crystal clear to the most casual observer that this attempt to malign Long is not only wrong but one more clumsy effort to divert attention from the more pressing matter of Alexseev's politics. On which Tyler and several others have made themselves clear. Selig considers all of these people his friends, he has no knowledge of Russian gay politics other than what he has heard from Alexseev or friends who've visited there, and the evidence against Alexseev is mounting.

And yet, yes, this is all Scott Long's fault. Ta da.

This stinks of the politics of distraction.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 5, 2011 3:58 AM

Oh no. My dastardly plot foiled again.

I'm fine with closely examining the issue anti-semitism here. I'm even fine with looking closely at *everyone* involved, including Scott Long, whom I know from common circles and whose intellect and work I like and admire. Alex rightly points out how important his work has been.

But let's be blunt: Peter Tatchell is god to mostly white gay men who can see no wrong in the kind of gay imperialist agenda that believes that all brown and black queers need to be saved, and only the likes of Tatchell can do that saving. There are entire articles, a book (or more), and a forthcoming special issue of a journal devoted to explaining Tatchell and his particular brand of rescue are problems. Let me be clear: I actually think HRW, along with several other "international" gay orgs. are and have been as problematic. But Tatchell is not god, and he is in fact a deeply troubling and problematic figure for many people, especially in parts of the world where he likes to rush in and proclaim himself the saviour.

He's also apt to sue people for saying so, from what I can tell.

Even putting aside all that, as Alex points out above: why do you think it's okay to attack Long by calling him scum and then bemoan the idea that gays are "attacking" each other? Perhaps you ought to read your own piece first.

Here's what I also find interesting: you don't level nearly the same amount of ire towards the many, many organisations and people, like Robin Tyler, who yanked their support of Alekseev - surely their actions merit more censure from you?
It appears that this is yet another case of people conveniently using Long's name and reputation to hang their agendas on, but craftily avoiding upsetting the powerful gay organisations and figures who have actually done the real damage (as you see it). Long may have raised the issue, but if matters are as you claim, wasn't it incumbent about Tyler and others to then look more closely at the matter? Why is that not a worse problem?

People can read some of the facts, as much as anyone knows them, here:
http://www.bilerico.com/2011/03/russian_gay_activist_california_tour_cancelled_ove.php

And yes, also, to Alex's point about the lack of Russian support, so far, for Alekseev, at least as far as we can tell.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 4, 2011 6:22 AM

Peter Tatchell is a determined fighter for GLBT rights. He's suffered so many wounds being beaten by Russian christian fascists and by guards of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe that his health is collapsing.

Check out the excellent article in Direland by Doug Ireland on this subject at http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2010/01/peter-tatchells-ironic-award.html

The Guardian article titled "How Constant Beatings Have Caught Up With Campaigner Peter Tatchell," noted that, "After surviving more than 300 physical attacks, two stabbing attempts, a live bullet posted through his door and a succession of vicious beatings that have left him mildly brain-damaged, Peter Tatchell must be one of the only people in the world who could still consider himself fortunate."

I have my own milder criticisms of Tatchell but whatever problems Nair has with Tatchell's defiant anti-islamist stance and unwavering support for the right to same sex marriage I think hurling insults like 'imperialist' at him and claiming falsely that his supporters are limited to "white gay men who cleave to the idea that gay issues are the same all over the world and that all gays all over the world are just waiting for their white Messiah to come save them" are both beyond farfetched. Have there been polls that prove that Tatchell is reviled by non-European GLBT folks?

Who are these people at an Outrage Demo in England? Why aren't they pummeling the filthy 'imperialist'.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_SXh9eUh5Osw/S6weLhXlQeI/AAAAAAAAFNk/3vEYiN1ysw8/s1600/4455339346_31261b5ecb.jpg

I just wanted to pop up and let readers know that I've responded in depth to John Selig's raising of Ireland, Tatchell et al, and this piece should throw some light on the Iran issue (which is not entirely germane here, but it does keep coming up):

http://www.yasminnair.net/content/gay-movement-over-4-october-2006

More below.

Robin Tyler posted a comment in Karen's thread:

Alex:
I actually saw it on Nikolai's Facebook page in
English. (I didn't know who Scot Long was).
I also saw activists in the comment section confront him and he wouldn't back off. It became
more and more 'weird."

I called Andy immediately and Andy said that Nikolai had been drinking and was drunk when he posted it. Andy had invsted a lot of $ to co- sponsor him to the states (Shared with Columbia University). I fundraised to pay for his California travel. I have worked with Andy Thayer on other projects over the years and didn't
want him to lose the money. I believed Andy
when he said he would resolve this. But he didn't.
A lot of us put in emormous work to bring Nikolai here to California. I am proud of the grassroots groups and Prides and organizations that withdrew from sponsorship. Anti semitism toward Jewish people (the 'J" word) was not tolerated by this
community.

Scott Long | March 3, 2011 5:57 PM

I rarely comment on blog posts, but John's billet-doux comes at a boring moment. So let me pose b) a factual correction, b) a question, and c) a comment.

Fact: No, I left Human Rights Watch because I had a pulmonary embolism.

Question: Whether I'm scum is a matter of opinion. But what does John think he knows about me that provides foundation for this insight? I'm not particularly a public figure (despite all the vitriol these various people have expended on me), I don't know John from Adam, and I suspect he knows nothing about me at all.

Comment: My role in this business was quite restricted. The blog post was forwarded to me by a Russian friend; I verified it, triple-checked the translation, and posted it as a question on an activist listserve. That listserve has also been the scene of discussions, by Russians and non-Russians, about Alexeyev's assaults on human rights activists (most recently, taking a page from Peter, he sued the 82-year-old and highly respected head of the Helsinki Committee) and alliances with right-wing, racist figures. The post concerned me because it doesn't attack Israel, it attacks Jews; Nikolai expands on this theme in the comments. It would be fairly simple for Alexeyev to a) explain, b) apologize, c) move on. Having none of that, he prefers to rant in fairly paranoid fashion about me, and apparently dispatch minions to obsess some more. Scum I may be, but my scumminess didn't prompt Alexeyev to invite a neo-fascist politician to marshal Moscow Pride in 2007; to say Russian gays don't "deserve" his help; to hint that his Russian critics are cowards or extremists; or to mutter ambiguously and darkly about the Jews. "Scott is scum!" assonnates nicely; by all means, chant it at a protest. As an explanation of Alexeyev, it falls flat.

John R. Selig | March 3, 2011 6:57 PM

Nikolai and Yasmin, thank you both for your excellent comments.

Alex, to your first comment, I was wrong in calling Scott Long scum. I don’t know the man and I don’t have a history with Scott. I do know that his attacks against Peter Tatchell while at the Human Rights Watch were so bad that the organization felt that they needed to issue and apology to Peter, who, like it or not, has done a great deal in the fight for LGBT rights for many years. I do believe that Scott’s behavior in this case was scummy.

I also question why Nikolai’s comments made in late January weren’t surfaced until Nikolai arrived in the States in Late February. Unless Scott didn’t find out about Nikolai’s comments until a week ago one must assume that the attack wasn’t meant to immediately right defamatory comments against Jews but to damage Nikolai. If that is the case such behavior is scummy as far as I am concerned. I salute Scott Long for the positive work that he has done as expressed by Yasmin but I do believe his attacks against both Peter and Nikolai were mean spirited at best.

Yasmin, Robin Tyler has been a dear friend for over ten years ever since Robin, Andy Thayer and I worked closely on StopDrLaura.com. I do not fault Robin, Equality California or any of the other organizations one bit for pulling their support for Nikolai’s trip. As I mentioned in my post I believed that Nikolai should have explained himself much earlier. For whatever reason, he felt unwilling or unable to do so before Robin and the organizations pulled their support. Had I been in their position I would likely have done the same thing. I found Karen Ocamb’s column to be both well written and an accurate description of what had been happening. Again, I have no quarrel with Robin Tyler, the California organizations or their decision. I wish that Nikolai could have addressed their concerns earlier.

You will note that my post was not made until after I had the opportunity to view Nikolai’s explanation of his comments at Columbia University on Tuesday evening. Having watched his comments I feel comfortable enough to give Nikolai the benefit of the doubt. My post was originally written quickly and in rough form for the Gays Without Borders listserv, which remained a feeding frenzy even after Nikolai offered his explanation. After his apology I found the comments against Nikolai to be unfair and I felt comfortable writing my post.

I have no answer to the discussion about how others in the LGBT community in Russia feel about what has transpired over the past 4 days. I don’t know how many have seen them. I do know that activists ruffle a lot of feathers. It doesn’t surprise me that there are those in the community that take umbrage with both Peter’s and Nikolai’s methods. I am sure that plenty of gays disliked the leadership of Act Up and Queer Nation both of which helped their causes. Civil rights fights need both the street activists and the more mainstream organizations. Without Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. Robin, Andy and I have all ruffled our share of feathers. My support of both Robin and Andy remains strong.

I feel sad that Nikolai Alexseev’s important message about the fight for LGBT rights in Russia has been overtaken by continued focus on confusing comments made in January. At this point we have a choice. We can feed Nikolia to a stream filled with Piranhas and watch him be devoured or we can listen to his message and learn about the fight for LGBT rights in Russia. I personally would like to hear what the man has to say.

Thanks for your response.

But, again, I'm left wondering, in all honesty, why the person who raised the issue gets called "scummy" while those who actually yanked the appearance get off with nothing but respectful words. If Tyler is the person who should have supported Alexseev, and didn't, she ought to be faulted for that, surely?

I guess the rough analogy I have for this situation is when someone points out that a person has committed some form of abuse; everyone else abandons the accused without looking into the matter; and a bunch of other people promptly blame the first person who pointed out the alleged abuse for having dared to create the situation. Surely the problem lies with either a) the person accused of the abuse, who may actually be an abuser or b) those who abandoned the abuser without a fair trial/hearing. Surely the person who called out the abuse is hardly the problem here, unless you can prove that their charges are indeed fictitious. Even then, the issue right now is with the issue of having yanked the appearance, no?

Which is to say: Scott Long is, in this situation, either a red herring or the scapegoat or both. I have to ask: would there be such a vehement response or even a response like "scummy" if it were anyone other than Long who raised the issue in the first place? The points raised about when and why he posted about Alekseev's supposed anti-Semitic comments don't seem germane to the matter at all. This is like saying, "X has been accused of anti-Semitism, and this group of activists decided they didn't want to have anything to do with him because of that. We abhor the possibility of his anti-Semitism AND we're really angry with the person who raised the point about his anti-Semitism."

Actually, it's exactly like that. Look at that last sentence again, and you'll see why this whole obsession with Long is so problematic for me. Take Long out of the situation for a second and then ask yourself: would you be raising such a stink about the original person who raised the question about Alekseev's alleged anti-Semitism if it were anyone else? Is that person really the issue, or is it so much else?

As to the rest: Please don't compare Tatchell (or Alekseev) to leaders of ACT UP etc. Or to Martin Luther King etc. (and ACT UP, which was far from perfect, did not rely so much on the concept of "leaders").

Let me be clear: the majority, if not the ONLY people who hold Peter Tatchell in high regard are white gay men who cleave to the idea that gay issues are the same all over the world and that all gays all over the world are just waiting for their white Messiah to come save them.

If nothing else, I hope this incident begins to expose the fractures and problematics so evident in this ridiculous and over-strained notion of a a seamless, international gay politics.

John R. Selig | March 3, 2011 9:04 PM

I would have respondedYasmin, I would have been just as upset with anybody else who timed their confrontation with Nikolai to damage his trip to the U.S. had they been sitting on the information for nearly a month. If Scott Long or anybody else had just found out about the quote then my opinion would be different. But I find this highly unlikely. Unlike some in the community I don’t have a long history with Scott Long so I don’t have this deep-seated hatred of him to which you refer. However, his handling of both Peter and Nikolai were mean-spirited in my opinion.

As far as Peter is concerned there are a lot of gays in England who are thankful for his work. It is obvious that you don’t agree with Peter and that is your right. I am not as familiar with his work outside of Britain than inside but he has done a lot of good work in England. If Peter is viewed favorably by gay white men, that is great. Other activists being seen favorably by Indian lesbians and others seen favorably by African gays that is great too. Everybody needs role models for inspiration. Obviously Peter Tatchell doesn’t fill that role for you. Nikolai doesn’t fill the role for some Russian gays but he does for others. A leader doesn’t have to be loved by all or around the world to have value and impact.

I think it is a responsibility to point out abuse but it should be done so accurately and in a timely manner. I don’t believe that Scott did so in these two cases. The person who called out the abuse is definitely at least part of problem if their accusations are untrue or unfair. Obviously Scott’s employer found his claims to be unfounded hence their apology to Peter. Organizations typically don’t apologize for telling the truth.

In Nikolai’s case, had Scott wanted to call Nikolai on his quote he should have called him on it as soon as it appeared. The timing appears to be more of a vendetta against somebody Scott Long doesn’t like instead of calling somebody on a confusing quote that might be inflammatory. It is obvious that Scott Long wanted to damage Nikolai’s trip to the U.S. I find that unfair (assuming Nikolai is not anti-Semitic). Nikolai’s explanation on Tuesday night has me willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Given the information at hand Robin Tyler and the California sponsors really had no choice but to distance themselves from Nikolai as he hadn’t addressed their concerns. However, had Scott Long brought the matter to a head when the comments were made there would have been plenty of time for Nikolai to properly address the situation and explain himself. Instead, Nikolai had to deal with this after just traveling into the country, suffering from jet lag and being ill as well. Again, I wish that Nikolai had addressed this as soon as the accusations were made.

As far as exposing fractures is concerne, our community has plenty of them and we delight in analyzing them to death and picking each other apart rather than trying to solve the prejudice and hate we each face. I find it both sad and counter-productive that we fixate on this.

John,

It was the responsibility of Tyler and company to look closely at the accusations before dumping Alekseev. You're now saying, "Well, the accusations are unwarranted, we should have given him a chance, but I'm not going to lay any blame on the people who threw him in front of the bus and didn't give him a chance. In fact, I'm going to explicitly say they are not to blame - just the person who made the accusations in the first place." That's a pretty blatant admission that Long is the problem for you, not Tyler et al.

Focusing on the timing is also disingenuous. To continue with my earlier analogy: Why does it matter when the accusations are made? Isn't the alleged abuse the problem, not the timing of the accusation? Frankly, this is like saying to a victim of an assault who cries foul when his attacker enters a town: "How dare you bring this up NOW, after we've invested all this money in his appearance?" Asking such a question is itself a tipoff that no one care as much about the abuse (or in this case, the anti-semitism), alleged or otherwise, only about the dreadful inconvenience of having to see their money wasted.

Furthermore, just on an abstract and political level, isn't it actually entirely appropriate to raise the issue of alleged anti-semitism before the trip to the US? Isn't it possible that discrediting him to the US audience was actually the point? Why is that a problem?

Jamaican reggae singers have been "banned" from the US or had their tours cancelled - by many of the same people involved with this recent fracas - right before their appearances or at the time. I think everyone here knows exactly the importance of timing when it comes to the issue foreign artists/speakers coming here. You don't do it while they're just touring in their own countries - you wait till they're about to show up here.

It is entirely disingenous to pretend otherwise and to wring hands at Long's supposed strategy of "waiting it out" or however you chose to define it when this is precisely the strategy carried out by several gay establishments when they protest singers, establishments etc.

Yes, the gays in England thankful for Tatchell's are mostly...white, gay, men. Because he helps reaffirm their role as saviours of other gays across the world.

As for this notion of community - the more we realise that it is often an untenable and problematic one, the better. We don't all have the same politics, and many of us are tired of Gay Inc. and the likes of Tatchell being portrayed as our "leaders."

Scott Long | March 3, 2011 10:45 PM

Just a few points.

a) Does John call me Nikolai above? It's true, we're both blond.

b) Has John actually read any, not to say most, of the exchanges between Outrage! and myself over the years, including the multiple accusations that came my way? If not, why is he talking about this?

c) Alexeyev's blog post was published on January 31. I received notice of it from Russian colleagues some ten days later. I have other things to do with my life than worry about Alexeyev; there was no need to react to this on John's preferred timetable. Mr. Selig has obviously been saving up strong opinions about me for a long time, without experiencing the need to reach out or check them against reality; I'm not sure why he holds me to a different standard.

c) I have a question about editorial policies at Bilerico Project--an excellent blog, I hasten to add, that I've always admired and enjoyed a lot. I just noticed that the comments guidelines say, "personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others." Well and good--though I assume this must make a lot of people angry. But do I understand that if I wrote in the comments, "Scott Long is scum," it would not be published; whereas when J. Selig, "guest blogger," writes the same sentence, it will be let stand? I sense an inconsistency.

I'm only curious; I'm really not offended--I've grown too used, over the years, to the rabid ways these people deal with disagreements. And naturally I'm not going to threaten John Selig, who in the end is a fellow activist and undoubtedly pursuing aspects of the same cause, with the draconian terms of an odious and outdated libel law because he presumed to criticize me. Only a great and progressive LGBT activist would do that sort of thing.
Best
SL

John R. Selig | March 4, 2011 2:41 AM

What is sad for me is that my post was aimed at asking readers to get past Nikolai Alexseev’s unfortunate choice of words on January 31st and take the time to listen to what he has to say during his U.S. visit. Instead it has turned into what appears to be a pissing contest between Scott Long and myself. I find this sad and most certainly not my intent.

This may come as a surprise but before June 2010 I had never heard of Scott Long. However, just over 9 months ago news broke widely in the gay media that Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Right Watch (Scott Long’s employer), issued a statement of apology that starts off: “Human Rights Watch (HRW) apologizes to Peter Tachell for a number of in appropriate and disparaging comments made about him in recent years by Scott Long, director of HRW’s LGBT program. We recognize that personal attacks have no place in the human rights movement.”

I don’t know Tatchell well but I have respected his work on behalf of gays in the U.K. I know far less about his work outside of Great Britain. I am not a student of all things Tatchell but I respect gays who have been dedicated to our cause as Peter Tachell has been.

Scott Long asks, “What does John think he knows about me that provides foundation for this insight?”

Not knowing Scott Long before this story broke; my insight was based solely upon rather wide coverage of HRW’s apology. I just did a Google Search and found thousands of links to this story, which made a lot of news last summer. Several articles mentioned that Scott Long’s comments against Peter Tatchell had gone on for as long as 5 years. I read a lot online last summer and I ran across a large number of articles on Scott Long and HRW's apology.

I have been rightly called to task by comments on this post for calling Scott Long scum for which I have already apologized and let me be sure to extend the apology directly to Scott Long, personally. However, based upon coverage of HRW apologizing for Scott Long’s attacks against Peter Tatchell, I came to the opinion that his attacks were scummy. Go ahead and do your own research and read some of the articles and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion. Perhaps some of the articles may have been a vendetta directed against Scott Long but I was not knowledgeable enough about Long’s work or reputation to draw that conclusion.

In reading Doug Ireland’s strongly worded article in “Gay City News” published on July 7, 2010, which I read at the time and have just reread, I was rather shocked by Scott Long’s attacks on Peter Tatchell. Here is a link to the article. http://www.chelseanow.com/articles/2010/07/14/gay_city_news/community/doc4c3dfb60a514c553285529.txt

A headline in UK Gay News ran “Human Rights Watch Apologises to Gay Rights Activist Peter Tatchell ‘Inappropriate, disparaging, inaccurate condemnatory and intemperate personal attacks,’ acknowledges HRW.”
Their coverage includes a full text of the apology: http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/10/Jun/3001.htm

Again, my knowledge of Scott Long is limited. He must have done much good work at Human Right’s Watch to be in his position for so long. Scott Long is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School and his credentials are indeed impressive. I salute him for his accomplishments and the positive work he has done on behalf of the LGBT community internationally. I have not had it out for him for years as some have insinuated and I do not have it out for him now. His treatment of Peter Tatchell was unfortunate. Still, I wish Scott Long well with his ongoing work on behalf of our community. I look forward to learning more about his efforts and promise to take the time to do so.

As to claims of Nikolai be anti-Semitic it was up to Nikolai to refute them. I believe he adequately did so at Columbia University on Tuesday night. If anti-Semitic behavior by Nikolai Alexseev is proven I won’t give Nikolai a pass but until that time he has my support on his current trip to the States and his work on behalf of LGBT people in Russia.

The sole purpose of my Bilerico post was to ask people to focus on what Nikolai Alexseev has to say during his trip to the States. I hope readers and attendees at his appearances are able to do so.

Actually, John, it's not a pissing contest if you choose to use someone's name, call them scum, and then continue to act like it's not the anti-semitism that's the problem but the calling out of it that's the problem.

As for Doug Ireland, oh, please, don't make me laugh. The man subjected *me* to a vicious, sexualized attack when he, aided by Chicago former activist Jeff Edwards, of the now-defunct Queer to the Left, used my sex life to try to discredit me because I had dared to disagree with him on his megalomaniacal drive to create a gay scandal in Iran when there was no evidence of such. The bedroom is out of bounds when it comes to the privacy rights of gay men, but not when nasty, brown women dare speak up.

This, from a man who claims to want to aid queer people, even women, who are being brutalized by homophobic regimes which use sexual violence of all sorts. And he will, of course, until some brown woman dares to contradict him. When she does, she is to be subjected to exactly the kind of rhetorical, sexualized violence he claims to rescue others from. Yes, exactly the sort of thing that, ahem, *feminists* have long criticised the patriarchy for.

You can read about it here:
http://www.yasminnair.net/content/gay-movement-over-4-october-2006

And, oh, anyone, do let me know if you'd like the e-mail in question sent to your inbox for proof.

Ireland has an interest in aiding and abetting Tatchell's particular brand of politics, the sort that affirms only the right of white gay men to speak for all gays, so let's just dump the idea that he makes any kind of credible source. As for Tatchell himself, he is notorious for shutting down discourse about his politics.

Let me repeat: the vast majority of people who love Tatchell's gay imperialism are gay white men (and similarly imperialist straight people), many of whom have never even gone to the countries he rushes to rescue and who never give much credibility to the struggles of those actually living and engaging in battles for their lives because, well, what do brown and black people know about queerness?

Putting all this aside, let's look at the facts here without getting too distracted here:

We have Robin Tyler writing on a public blog that she made her decision based on Alexseev's Facebook page, and that she did not know anything about Scott Long.

We have Scott Long pointing out that all this in fact originated on a listserv, that Alexseev's comments were verified by a Russian friend and triple-checked etc.

We have the fact that, so far, few or no Russian activists have rallied around Alexseev.

We have the words of Scott Long, who has spent decades on the ground in various countries around the globe and has more understanding about international gay politics in his little finger than in all the ten digits of armchair commenters who only care about looking for X country's Stonewall (because, hey, if you find a Stonewall in Indonesia, you've captured Indonesian gay history, never mind what actual Indonesians might think).

We have the facts about Alexseev's career as pointed out by Long, which neither you nor any one have disputed (but, then, frankly, you seem to have little actual knowledge of Russian gay politics, only the version you've received from Alexseev or American friends who've visited Russia).

Ergo, Scott Long is being used as a red herring.

Clearly, this may be shaping up to far more than an "unfortunate choice of words," as far as we can tell. But, as Long put it above: ""Scott is scum!" assonnates nicely; by all means, chant it at a protest. As an explanation of Alexeyev, it falls flat."


Scott Long | March 4, 2011 1:35 PM

Doug Ireland's attack on Yasmin Nair was a perfect example of the level at which these people operate. And Ireland's recurrent inability to get his facts straight in almost anything he writes about a foreign country (I spent time last month in a futile attempt to explain Egyptian law to him after he published a completely inaccurate piece) might raise questions about how well he's capable of describing a dispute in which he's emotionally involved.

Insinuations about one's personal life are not a mode of argument unique to Ireland. Alexeyev, in a thousand-word rant on a listserve, has recently suggested that I am not gay--presumably believing this discredits me. (He's also suggested that I used to work for the CIA.) Alexeyev's propensity for paranoid allegations is well-known to those who follow the Russian human rights movement; he sees conspiracies against him everywhere, and anyone who differs with him is part of the plot. (That he's recently sued Lyudmila Alexeeva, the heroic dissident and octogenarian founder of the Moscow Helsinki Committee, is characteristic. She said he lied, after Alexyev accused her of homophobia. The Moscow Helsinki Committee has been incredibly supportive of LGBT issues since the fall of Communism. They have criticized Alexeyev for his support of the radical right. He hates them for it.) This behavior is personally and politically destructive.

John Selig reads the things these people spew; he gets Nikolai's emails accusing people of espionage, heterosexuality, and other malefactions; and John is unfazed by the violence. But when someone voices an opposing view, he's shocked: shocked. I suspect his sensitivities have been coarsened by the company he keeps. John is hanging out with a rough crowd. He needs new friends.

You're right, Alekseev boor, a liar and a paranoid. In Russia, he constantly asserts that any and all activities and travel is for personal money. Gay Liberation Network confirms that financed his tickets and accommodation at the time of his U.S. tour.

http://translate.google.com.ua/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=uk&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmelancholy-gay.livejournal.com%2F16451.html

http://translate.google.com.ua/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=uk&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmelancholy-gay.livejournal.com%2F80821.html

Alekseev regularly abused and humiliated gays in his country. Nicolai demonstrates that he alone has a value. He's really paranoid, which is constantly sees and seeks out enemies among those who actually defend human rights.

Also, Alexis claimed that he personally financed absolutely all their trips and events. Nikolai Alexeyev has repeatedly argued that the sponsors have never given him a single penny for the work or travel. "Gay Liberation Network" has confirmed that it pays for tickets and accommodation during the U.S. tour. I am sure that there are many other facts.

http://translate.google.com.ua/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=uk&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmelancholy-gay.livejournal.com%2F16451.html

http://translate.google.com.ua/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=uk&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmelancholy-gay.livejournal.com%2F80821.html

Robin Tyler | March 4, 2011 4:34 PM

I am tired as I woke up at 5 AM this morning to go to a protet against Focus on the Family in Arcadia. However, after spending the last 30 minutes reading these comments, I only have a couple of things to say.
l. I did not cancel Nikolai. Grassroots groups,
including the Jordan Rustin Coalition, organizations, and activsts withdraw sponsorship. So, please, do not give me all the credit. (which you see as blame).
2. I saw the post weeks ago and was dealing with Andy about it as he said that Nikolai would clarify what he meant. It wasn't one post, but Nikola's response to the activists who challenged him followed that'whatever' when they tried to ask him if he meant 'all' Jewish people. (Nicolia says 'jews' so I now call this the 'J"
word).
3. John; I was shocked at your post. But aren't Andy and Nikolai staying with you when Nikolai appears in Dallas. (Andy told me he was asking you.)
4. The reason that you have not seen Russians
defending Nikolai, is because on their listserve of Russian Activists, they definitely side with
us. They believe that 'Western' people have chosen 'Nikolai' as the great LGBT Russian leader, when in fact, he isn't. I won't go on to say what else they said, but it wasn't in praise of Nikolai.
5.Scott, this is our first communication, but it is nice to meet you.
6. John-you should have picked up the phone and called me.
7. I consider Peter Thatchell a friend and ally of mine.
Sorry, no spell check.

Just to clarify the record re Russian and mistranslations.

There was no mistranslation. I saw this comment on Nikolai's FB page and it worried me.

I have now also seen the archived version of his ZhZh (blog) page, and it's even worse in the original, since there is some back and forth with two Russian Jews.

After Nikolai's "Who are the Jews after this? Well, I really already know who they are..." one immediately asked "So who are we then." No response. Later Nikolai suggested the others (possibly Israeli?) should condemn Netanyahu in strong terms (odd, given that he himself objects to being scripted).

When, finally, another Russian-speaking Jew asked, "So I haven't heard, who are we?" Nikolai's response was more or less "I don't even want to know who you are." Very dismissive.

So the claims that the original posts were not anti-Semitic or were somehow misinterpreted just don't hold water.

Full disclosure: PhD in Russian and I write about Russian gay life. I have followed Alekseev and defended him against Russian gay people critical of his tactics since at least 2006. I also have known Scott Long for over a decade. If Nikolai had only come out with an explanation earlier (or better yet: softened his remarks in the comments on his own blog) it might be different. Instead there were claims of misinterpretation and attacks on Scott, who merely pointed out the post.

There is a pattern, though. When on FB Nikolai was ranting about hating all Americans (perhaps for some US policy), I told him it reminded me about the Cold War days when some Americans said they hated all Russians, rather than the Soviet Govt. He failed to understand the analogy. And would never back down. So he has a habit of generalizing from a government to a people and being confrontational, which he tries to pass off as being "provocative" and "not politically correct."

He has done useful work in Russia. He has also alienated a lot of gay people there (note that only Western gays have come to his defense). I probably wouldn't say anything if he hadn't a) denied there was an issue and b) blamed/criticized others for the whole affair.

FromRussiaWithLove | March 5, 2011 11:17 AM

Hello, fellow LGBT folks.

Anti-Semitic comments – are only “a tip of the iceberg” and only a tiny part of Mr. Alexeyev’s dark side which you won’t ever see on the glossy and shiny pages of his newly revamped GayRussia website, you won’t ever hear in the English-speaking news and websites. This is something he won’t ever tell you in any emails himself. And the truth, unfortunately, is not so rainbow-colored indeed. Alexeyev thought you’d never reach his personal blog in Russian. That’s why it is gone now, and probably won’t be ever back again. Thanks for cache, we still can access some of it. It is a bit surprising that not all US activists have a tool called thorough background check as a good practice, especially when it comes to complicated international issues, language barriers and culture differences.

The deadly silence of Russian LGBT community on this is a pitiful, but “successful” result of 5 years of Mr. Alexeyev’s constant bullying, terrorizing, threatening, name-calling, ridiculing it - and those people who dared to voice opinions different than his. Today most Russian LGBT activists prefer just to ignore Alexeyev and not say anything at all, because any criticism or alternative view means immediate and brutal backlash from him, because he takes it all very personally. There is documented evidence of that, for example his scandalous speech in Helsinki in 2010 on Russian civil activists’ conference, where he started to hysterically yell, blame and curse his Russian peers right in front of the foreign audience. Most people just got up and left that ugly scene, many, including the hosts of this event, protested and afterwards felt very sorry about it.

Russian culture is indeed different from American one.

But even in our Russian culture calling LGBT community “slaves who do not deserve gay prides” does not really help these people in protecting their human rights, does it?

How does bullying and suing the most prominent Russian human rights advocate 82-old Ludmila Alexeyeva help advance LGBT movement in Russia? It doesn’t. By the way, the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), the oldest and respected human rights organization in Russia, headed by Ludmila, readily supports other Russian LGBT groups and orgs… except – you guessed it, Mr. Alexeyev and his GayRussia – due to a scandal in 2007 when Mr. Alexeyev showed sympathy and partnered up with a famous Russian nationalist Alexey Mitrofanov. MHG immediately withdrew its support of GayRussia, it’s not restored up to this day.

Another game with nationalistic scent is played by the Alexeyev’s so-called “Slavic Pride”. Russian federation is a multinational country, where not only Slavic people live. Naming a pride event “Slavic” in Russia reminds of huge nationalistic “Russian Marches” which are held in Moscow every year by extreme nationalists. “Slavic Pride” (compare with “White Pride”) is a disgusting name for a human rights event which aims to bring people together and not to divide them by ethnicity. Many activists pointed out this to Alexeyev and to his small group of supporters but they didn’t even seem to try and understand what’s wrong with this name!

How does Mr. Alexeyev’s obsessive desire to “repress” his peers who have a different view on gay pride parades in Russia help to advance LGBT rights? In February 2010, answering to a concerned guy in LiveJournal, what will Alexeyev do to such people, he proclaimed: “There will be no amnesty. Repressions will be harder”. Read it again. Repressions. Will. Be. Harder. You still want to defend Nikolai and his repressions against LGBT? What kind of leadership and activism is that? Screenshot: http://img695.imageshack.us/img695/596/image1isi.jpg

Official registration of LGBT organizations in Russia is not easy. When in 2009 “Vykhod” (“Coming Out”) Saint-Petersburg-based LGBT-org succeeded to be the first and only officially registered organization in Russia in 2000s, Alexeyev immediately started to spread rumors over the international LGBT mailing lists that the registration was fake and that the official regulations and official org name did not include mention of LGBT. How such approach can help to advance LGBT issues in Russia? Not to mention, that Alexeyev’s own organization in Russia is not officially registered up to this day. Actually this so-called human rights organization itself does not have an office, a phone-line, etc. and it is only a web-site which was recently quite ironically moved to the EU domain name, instead of RU.

In 2010 Alexeyev started to bully Deutsche Welle reporter who dared to voice his concerns about Moscow Pride 2010, which was held in a highly secretive flashmob mode for 10 minutes somewhere far from crowded main streets of Moscow. After several hours of uncertainty and constant running around Moscow and changing locations, reporters were exhausted and angry that they were invited to cover such a poorly organized event which nobody saw besides the reporters themselves. But somehow the right to talk about was taken away from them by Alexeyev.

Many people are concerned how Alexeyev’s initiatives are financed. In his deleted blog Alexeyev many times pointed out that the main sponsor for his activities is his Swiss husband named Pier located in Geneva. During these 5 years Russian LGBT community still doesn’t know what is the last name of this secret sponsor, what does he do for living, what are his goals for gay prides in Russia? We simple do not know. We didn’t even see his picture. How is this money earned? Is it by legal means or by some illegal activites like prostitution, drug-dealing, etc? These are important questions for any social movement. Alexeyev’s blog was filled with leisure cruise photos outside Russia. He spends a lot of time abroad. What Russian LGBT community is supposed to think looking at such lifestyle? Yes, if Alexeyev screws something up, he has a safe place in Geneva with his husband. What about all other people who suffer from his constant provocations?

In fact, public opinion polls, conducted on the internet during last 5 years, show that the vast majority (more than 80%) of Russian LGBT, who participated in the polls, have negative attitude towards Alexeyev’s persona and activities. But he doesn’t seem to care about that. Alexeyev’s team in fact every time tried to disrupt conduction of these polls by flooding the discussion by senseless and insulting comments.

The last thing I’d like to notice is attitude towards Alexeyev inside his own small team. There is only a very small number of permanent supporters in Moscow. The most part of his team is constantly changing, people come and go all the time, not able to cope with his dictatorship style. Nikolai Baev, who today is his closest companion, in 2006 said the following (and still didn’t denounce it): “Alexeyev is simply a hysterical and paranoid person. You can communicate with him only by agreeing with him. I perfectly realized it and that was the only way to succeed”. Screenshot: http://pics.livejournal.com/melancholy_gay/pic/000d1d7d

Sorry, I will not leave my real name here because I am already sick and tired of Mr. Alexeyev’s bullying and threats, just like many other people. And I know how maniacally he traces everything said about him on the web and media. Believe me, this is not my personal crusade against Alexeyev. I only presented the facts widely known among Russian LGBT. These facts can be easily checked and confirmed by virtually any Russian LGBT activist or Russian-speaking person. Thank you.

From Russia with Love.

FromRussiaWithLove | March 5, 2011 11:29 AM

Hello, fellow LGBT folks.

Anti-Semitic comments – are only “a tip of the iceberg” and only a tiny part of Mr. Alexeyev’s dark side which you won’t ever see on the glossy and shiny pages of his newly revamped GayRussia website, you won’t ever hear in the English-speaking news and websites. This is something he won’t ever tell you in any emails himself. And the truth, unfortunately, is not so rainbow-colored indeed. Alexeyev thought you’d never reach his personal blog in Russian. That’s why it is gone now, and probably won’t be ever back again. Thanks for cache, we still can access some of it. It is a bit surprising that not all US activists have a tool called thorough background check as a good practice, especially when it comes to complicated international issues, language barriers and culture differences.

The deadly silence of Russian LGBT community on this is a pitiful, but “successful” result of 5 years of Mr. Alexeyev’s constant bullying, terrorizing, threatening, name-calling, ridiculing it - and those people who dared to voice opinions different than his. Today most Russian LGBT activists prefer just to ignore Alexeyev and not say anything at all, because any criticism or alternative view means immediate and brutal backlash from him, because he takes it all very personally. There is documented evidence of that, for example his scandalous speech in Helsinki in 2010 on Russian civil activists’ conference, where he started to hysterically yell, blame and curse his Russian peers right in front of the foreign audience. Most people just got up and left that ugly scene, many, including the hosts of this event, protested and afterwards felt very sorry about it.

Russian culture is indeed different from American one.

But even in our Russian culture calling LGBT community “slaves who do not deserve gay prides” does not really help these people in protecting their human rights, does it?

How does bullying and suing the most prominent Russian human rights advocate 82-old Ludmila Alexeyeva help advance LGBT movement in Russia? It doesn’t. By the way, the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), the oldest and respected human rights organization in Russia, headed by Ludmila, readily supports other Russian LGBT groups and orgs… except – you guessed it, Mr. Alexeyev and his GayRussia – due to a scandal in 2007 when Mr. Alexeyev showed sympathy and partnered up with a famous Russian nationalist Alexey Mitrofanov. MHG immediately withdrew its support of GayRussia, it’s not restored up to this day.

Another game with nationalistic scent is played by the Alexeyev’s so-called “Slavic Pride”. Russian federation is a multinational country, where not only Slavic people live. Naming a pride event “Slavic” in Russia reminds of huge nationalistic “Russian Marches” which are held in Moscow every year by extreme nationalists. “Slavic Pride” (compare with “White Pride”) is a disgusting name for a human rights event which aims to bring people together and not to divide them by ethnicity. Many activists pointed out this to Alexeyev and to his small group of supporters but they didn’t even seem to try and understand what’s wrong with this name!

How does Mr. Alexeyev’s obsessive desire to “repress” his peers who have a different view on gay pride parades in Russia help to advance LGBT rights? In February 2010, answering to a concerned guy in LiveJournal, what will Alexeyev do to such people, he proclaimed: “There will be no amnesty. Repressions will be harder”. Read it again. Repressions. Will. Be. Harder. You still want to defend Nikolai and his repressions against LGBT? What kind of leadership and activism is that? Screenshot: http://img695.imageshack.us/img695/596/image1isi.jpg

Official registration of LGBT organizations in Russia is not easy. When in 2009 “Vykhod” (“Coming Out”) Saint-Petersburg-based LGBT-org succeeded to be the first and only officially registered organization in Russia in 2000s, Alexeyev immediately started to spread rumors over the international LGBT mailing lists that the registration was fake and that the official regulations and official org name did not include mention of LGBT. How such approach can help to advance LGBT issues in Russia? Not to mention, that Alexeyev’s own organization in Russia is not officially registered up to this day. Actually this so-called human rights organization itself does not have an office, a phone-line, etc. and it is only a web-site which was recently quite ironically moved to the EU domain name, instead of RU.

In 2010 Alexeyev started to bully Deutsche Welle reporter who dared to voice his concerns about Moscow Pride 2010, which was held in a highly secretive flashmob mode for 10 minutes somewhere far from crowded main streets of Moscow. After several hours of uncertainty and constant running around Moscow and changing locations, reporters were exhausted and angry that they were invited to cover such a poorly organized event which nobody saw besides the reporters themselves. But somehow the right to talk about was taken away from them by Alexeyev.

Many people are concerned how Alexeyev’s initiatives are financed. In his deleted blog Alexeyev many times pointed out that the main sponsor for his activities is his Swiss husband named Pier located in Geneva. During these 5 years Russian LGBT community still doesn’t know what is the last name of this secret sponsor, what does he do for living, what are his goals for gay prides in Russia? We simple do not know. We didn’t even see his picture. How is this money earned? Is it by legal means or by some illegal activites like prostitution, drug-dealing, etc? These are important questions for any social movement. Alexeyev’s blog was filled with leisure cruise photos outside Russia. He spends a lot of time abroad. What Russian LGBT community is supposed to think looking at such lifestyle? Yes, if Alexeyev screws something up, he has a safe place in Geneva with his husband. What about all other people who suffer from his constant provocations?

In fact, public opinion polls, conducted on the internet during last 5 years, show that the vast majority (more than 80%) of Russian LGBT, who participated in the polls, have negative attitude towards Alexeyev’s persona and activities. But he doesn’t seem to care about that. Alexeyev’s team in fact every time tried to disrupt conduction of these polls by flooding the discussion by senseless and insulting comments.

The last thing I’d like to notice is attitude towards Alexeyev inside his own small team. There is only a very small number of permanent supporters in Moscow. The most part of his team is constantly changing, people come and go all the time, not able to cope with his dictatorship style. Nikolai Baev, who today is his closest companion, in 2006 said the following (and still didn’t denounce it): “Alexeyev is simply a hysterical and paranoid person. You can communicate with him only by agreeing with him. I perfectly realized it and that was the only way to succeed”. Screenshot: http://pics.livejournal.com/melancholy_gay/pic/000d1d7d

Sorry, I will not leave my real name here because I am already sick and tired of Mr. Alexeyev’s bullying and threats, just like many other people. And I know how maniacally he traces everything said about him on the web and media. Believe me, this is not my personal crusade against Alexeyev. I only presented the facts widely known among Russian LGBT. These facts can be easily checked and confirmed by virtually any Russian LGBT activist or Russian-speaking person. Thank you.

From Russia with Love.

NIkolai Baev | March 6, 2011 5:09 AM

My name is Nikolai Baev. I am co-organizer of Moscow Gay Pride. Nikolai Alexeev is my closest friend and my camarade. Together we experienced a lot of things in Russia, in police stations, in jail, in courts.
And I am shocked by so much dirt that some "gay" trolls ("with love from Russia") are throwing here not only on him, but on all his camarades and on me also.
I know very well how Nikolai is hated by huge majority of Russian gays - only because one thing: because they hate all visibility, all coming out, everything that makes their silent, double lives in Russia (between homophobic society and underground gay bars and dark corners) so uneasy. And Nikolai and me, and other brave LGBT activists around Moscow Pride Committe and GayRussia project, we really do!

You know, exactly on these days Russia celebrates 150th aniversary of abolition of serfdom in Russia. Until 1861 90 percent of Russians (all peasants) were slaves. Just like your black slaves in America until Civil War.
So don't be surprised that slave psychology is so rooted inside Russian society, and especially in such a stigmatized social group like gays and lesbians.
It's a sad fact, but it's true, Russians are still slaves in their minds (therefore they love Mr. Putin so much), and gays are not exceptions.

And don't be surprised also that so much slaves like that really hate free persons who dare to come out, who conflict with the homophobic system, like Nikolai, me and other girls and guys.

Exactly these haters are orchestrating all this dirty campaign against him. So shame on you who participate in this. But you know I am not afraid of this. Go on! I know all this hatred here in Russia everyday, all these filthy guys who accuse me and Nikolai constantly that we only disturb the situation in Russia, that Russia has "its own special way", in gay rights also. Of course it has! The way of slavery, I guess!

We are fighting against this slavery, and we will win, I am sure, what ever dirt and accusations our enemies in Russia tell about us. And you in America will see who was right and who was wrong.

I hate all kinds of hatred, of xenophobia and antisemitism. I think that Nikolai explained enough his point of view: he is not ant-semitic. And I know a lot of real antifascists who are agains Israeli politics, and its dubious attutude towards dictators like Mubarak. So I don't doubt in Nikolai. He is real human rights campaigner.

And you Americans should learn from the history: the fight against slavery and discrimination is moved forward by few brave people who are not afraid to conflict with authorities, with the system, even with society. Such a people are few first, but history belongs to them.

Nikolai Baev! Bad attitude to Alexeyev caused by other reasons than what you are trying to tell. You know it.
In December 2009, you wrote that Alekseev works only with puppets. You wrote that Nikolai Alekseev, paranoid, hysterical, rude and arrogant man with no intelligence. And you were right. It is for this reason that homosexuals Russia do not support Nikolai Alexeyev. Did you forget your words! Or you become profitable to forget your words! You have erased your comment, but we have not forgotten about him.
http://pics.livejournal.com/melancholy_gay/pic/000d1d7d

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 6, 2011 11:47 AM

GLBT International relations have taken a long step back because of this incident. Much of that is due to people with a proven record of injecting their personal vendettas into movement politics. We're all aware of the high levels of personal, as opposed to political, fuming and bickering that goes on in the US. As often as not it's masked in political terms but the level of personal vituperation always betrays it's real origins. Also, it has a financial side to it as individual self-appointed leaders fight for donations and to become paid 'leaders'.

As abysmal as that is it's spill over into international relations does even greater harm.

Livid personal attacks on people like Tatchell and Alekseev move us away from cooperation and mutual aid and into a morass of non-political fighting that can go on for decades. These attacks are meant, deliberately so, to sidetrack discussion of real political questions. Those kind of attacks have to be condemned. If HRC is full of it people in the US will know more about it than others and if Tatchell or Alekseev are wrong then our English and Russian brothers and sisters will figure it out we'll see the results soon enough.

This is not to say that people have no right to comment on events elsewhere. National exceptionalism, the idea that we have nothing in common is BS, pure and simple. We have more in common with our brothers and sisters in Brazil and Iraq than we have with our fellow citizens. That commonality is encompassed by our oppression.

We should feel free to comment on international questions and work with one another but GLBT groups in the US and EU have to take extreme caution because the US and the EU are the world's most formidable and dangerous aggressor nations. Calls for military solutions to solve the oppression of our brothers and sisters in the muslim and Arab regions of the world could have deadly consequences in terms of spreading, or more likely, condoning, US/EU aggression.

I had hoped that Gays Without Borders would move from a communications forum to an activist role but that's not likely to happen, mainly I suspect, because there are a lot of American commenter's and wannabe world leaders who just won't shut up long enough for others to get a word in edgewise.

John R. Selig | March 6, 2011 12:25 PM

I have stopped making comments on this post but feel a need for a few last comments (hopefully).

First of all, Bill I agree with your comment totally.

Secondly, i find it cowardly when people take pot shots against the people on Bilerico (either who write a post or who are the subject of a post) and then hide behind a pseudonym.

How about displaying the same level of ethics that you are demanding of Nikolai and others by using your real name and taking responsibility for what you have to say?

I may disagree with the comments made by Yasmin Nair, Scott Long and others but I salute them for having enough conviction to stand behind what they have to say and both own and take responsibility for their remarks.

If somebody can't use their real name for fear of arrest, that is one thing but having fear of Nikolai or others holding you as accountable for your comments as you are holding him/them is the height of hypocrisy. Quite honestly, I dismiss your comments as being just mean-spirited as you refuse to be held accountable or defend them.

John,

We've had Robin Tyler show up here and effectively contradict much/all of what you've said. She has also pointed out that many Russian activists side with her and other organizations' yanking of support for Alexseev. Perhaps the best lesson such organizations should learn is: next time, do your homework. Talk to more than one activist in a country.

On the other side, we have Scott Long, who has not communicated with Tyler prior to this (and may still not have, I don't know) also pointing out that the criticism of Alexseev is valid and Kevin Moss doing the same.

We have Russian activists who, granted, given the anonymity of the web may be neither Russian nor activists, but who do affirm that Tyler, Long et al are right.

So far, based on recent events and statements, the evidence is mounting against Alexseev. None of what has been said is a personal attack against him, Tatchell, or "activists" like Ireland - these are all political critiques about how some conduct "gay politics." Yet, you insist on painting some anonymous comments as some form of cowardice or personal attacks when you, to the best of my knowledge, have no real knowledge whatsoever of Russian gay politics.

Even those following Russian general politics in the most cursory way are aware of the larger culture of state repression, of the deeply embedded culture of mafia politics, and the life and death issues faced by activists of all stripes, gay or otherwise. You show no sensitivity to that in your ongoing effort to save yourself from further embarrassment.

What this amounts to is: you have egg on your face. You made a mistake. Tyler and the others should have done their homework before arranging the trip or stood by Alexseev (depending on how they saw/see matters).

And yet you have persisted in trying to distract us from the real issue, first by pointing to Scott Long and now by charges of "cowardice" towards people who are more likely than not truly afraid of being tracked for what they say.

Seriously, John, get over it. Your original post is symptomatic of the central problem facing "global gay" politics: armchair activists who blindly follow the ill-founded notion that there are "friends of Dorothy" just waiting to be rescued from their repression in every corner of the world and who demonstrate, over and over again, that they are ill-equipped to carry out campaigns on behalf of queer people who face vastly, vastly different cultural, political, and economic conditions than anything seen or felt by US gays.

E-mail exchanges with Russian activists do not count as intimate knowledge of Russian politics. It's shameful that so many people have seen fit to malign Long despite the fact that he among them is the only one who has any real expertise on this issue. Disagree with him if you must, but disagree on the grounds of actual political knowledge and analysis, not some far-fetched conspiracy theories about him as the devil incarnate.

You made a mistake. Own it, get over it, but stop the politics of distraction.

Hiding behind a pseudonym?
My alias Alex Melancholy-gay. I live in Ukraine. The problem of gays in Ukraine and Russia are similar and often overlap with each other.
We live in a country where, instead of the communist dictatorship, corrupt politicians establish a religious dictatorship (in violation of the Constitution).

In 2007 I started blogging on the problems of LGBT. Under the name of Melancholy-gay. Very quickly, my blog has become known to ordinary readers, journalists and politicians. My questions answered prominent Ukrainian politicians. Homophobic hate me for my activities on the Internet for my blog.

Not all of the useful Alekseev for Russian and Ukrainian gay. I tried to debate with Alexeev. But he is afraid of debate and quickly locks the comments that do not support his policies.

I hide under a pseudonym? I support the relationships with the leaders of Ukrainian LGBT movement. Some of them are my direct phone number.

You think I do not have the right to express their opinion about Alekseeva?

http://translate.google.com.ua/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=uk&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmelancholy-gay.livejournal.com%2F2007%2F09%2F01%2F

John R. Selig | March 6, 2011 3:19 PM

Thanks for you comment Alex UA. Obviously you are known by Nikolai and others so my comment doesn't apply to you as you stand by your comments.

However, FromRussiaWithLove not wanting to give his name because he doesn't want to be bullied by Nikolai doesn't hold water in my book. It is okay for him to bully Nikolai but not for Nikolai to know who he is and be able to respond directly isn't fair in my book.

Good luck with your work in Ukraine. I cannot even imagine the challenges you face and would certainly be interested in learning more about what life is like for gays in Ukraine and the work you are doing.

___________

I won't distance myself from Nikolai Alexseev just because people say he is difficult to get along with or gets defensive when people challenge him. I have found that most LGBT leaders (and leaders in general) have large egos. There are those that like them and those who cannot stand them and often the number that can't stand them are much larger in number. I know plenty of people in the States like that. Some I cannot stand but I do respect the advances they make for gays.

I believe that the work that Nikolai Alexseev and others are doing with Moscow Pride as well as the court cases are important and help the fight for gay rights in Russia. If I am wrong on this then I need to be educated and I am willing to listen. Feel free to send me a personal email.

If somebody can provide with strong evidence that Nikolai indeed hates Jews my support of him is a very different story. Certainly if Nikolai is an anti-Semite people have heard personal comments from him or seen other examples than his rant on Facebook which is hard to interpret. I don't want to support an anti-Semite. My family suffered greatly because of anti-Semitism in Europe. On the other hand, I don't want to abandon somebody because of a poor choice of words and people who don't like him going on the attack.

Emperor's New Clothes | March 7, 2011 3:14 PM

Dear American LGBT activists,

While you are bickering with each other trying to save one's face, the fact that you still support Nikolai Alexeev discredits you in the eyes of Russian gay folks.

I have no doubt that you genuinely intend to support LGBT organizations in Russia, so please look at the resources on the net, speak to different people, come to Russia, familiarize yourself with our situation and our needs. All information is available online, our contacts are there as well.
Alexeev-glorifying GayRussia dot eu is not the only source about gay issues in Russia.

Alexeev is a successful attention-seeking provocation master. So called Moscow pride parades are 10 people flashmobs that incite anger and hatred, not attention to LGBT issues. Ordinary Russians still haven't heard an articulate answer to "What else do you want so you need your gay parade?" question.
Yes, he is a shameless lier, rude and arrogant communicator, embarrassing and hysterical debater, and yes, media loves such characters. And I wouldn't care less about his personal traits if his actions were not so damaging to gay people and support groups. Viewing gay community through the image of Nikolai Alexeev produces nothing but homophobia.

I can stand for each word, and the prove is easily available online.

You've heard from several Russian gays how strongly they disapprove Alexeev's attitude and, most importantly, actions. Maybe "it's wars launched by the angry and envious slaves", but maybe it's worth listening to so many voices.

Before you throw another support for Alexeev and give him another tribune, I sincerely ask you to give another thorough look into his actions and accomplishments.
Yes, your support will be invaluable, your experience and resources will be a huge help, and I urge you to make the right judgement.

I don't know if there is such a desperate need for the Russian hero but this "emperor has nothing at all"!