Russian Culture Wars: New Word каминг-аут Enters the Lexicon!

But no gays, please!

If he were to return from the grave, Tolstoy might be horrified to see the state of the Russian language today:  Every other word a borrowing from American.  First there was викенд (“weekend”), then there was бойфренд (“boyfriend”), and now we have каминг-аут (“coming-out”).  Tolstoy would be so depressed, that he might clasp his head and ejaculate, in perfect Russian:

“Еh bien, mon prince. Genes et Lucques ont juste sortis de leur placard .  Bien sur ils l’ont fait leur coming-out.  Je vois que je vous fais peur, садитесь и рассказывайте. Mais je vous previens, que si vous ne me dites pas, que nous avons la guerre culturelle!”

This is in the way of an intro to the latest round in the culture war.  Now the Russian Communist Party is threatening to prosecute people… well, not for using foreign idioms, to be sure, which might be a fair use of the executive power, but rather for “coming out of the closet” and publicly declaring their adherence to “non-traditional sexual orientation”.

One can only sigh and go, “Oi, here we go again….”

Here is the nitty-gritty of the story:

The Party is proposing an administrative fine (of 5,000 rubles) and/or up to 15 days in the slammer for any person who engaged in the “coming-out” process.  Two Duma deputies are behind this proposed legislation, both of them members of the Russian Communist Party:  Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefiev.  They are proposing this as an amendment to the existing anti-gay legislation in place:  Statute 6.12.1 “Public expression of non-traditional sexual orientations”.

Nikitchuk:   What We Have Here is a Problem With Morality

According to Nikitchuk, the proposed legislation will strengthen the morality of the Russian people:  “I believe that the problem raised by us is a very sharp and current one, since it touches on the social illness of our society, and first of all touches on the moral education of the younger generation.  Unfortunately, the mechanism devised in 2013 in Statute 5 ФЗ ‘On protecting our children from information which harms their health and development’, which forbids the propaganda of homosexuality, has turned out to be insufficiently effective, this is why we are proposing this new measure.”

Central Station is St. Petersburg’s most popular gay night club.

Nikitchuk goes on to say, that homosexuality is a grave threat to the human race.  Since homosexuals cannot procreate, and therefore the human race is in dire danger of dying out from underpopulation.  [See, at a world population of only 7.3 billion souls, on the very edge of extinction, we homo sapiens as a species are just barely clinging to life!]

And goes on to cite historical facts about the struggle against homosexuality throughout all of human history.  “In Soviet law, the concept of ‘sodomy’ referred to crimes against the person and was punished by incarceration up to five years, and in cases of aggravating circumstances, for example sex with minors, incarceration up to eight years.”

Goes on to talk about punishment of homosexuals in ancient Greece, especially in Sparta.

Attorney Sergei Zhorin and his wife.

IZVESTIA goes on to quote the legal expert Sergei Zhorin, who believes that the proposed legislation is fair, is not “populistic”, and is in line with Russian Constitutional Law.  “The fact is, that various sexual preferences and orientations – is a personal and internal matter for each individual.  I don’t walk around shouting that I love oral sex.” [yalensis:  “Serge, you just did!”]

A dissenting view comes from another legal expert, Maria Bast.  Bast says that the Communist initiative is unworthy of a left-wing party, and that its chances of being passed in the Parliament are equal to null.  “I don’t believe that the parliamentary majority will go for this,” says Bast.  “Especially given the fact that we are in the process of smoothing over our relations with the European Union.”

Vive La Guerre Culturelle!

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19 Responses to Russian Culture Wars: New Word каминг-аут Enters the Lexicon!

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Goes on to talk about punishment of homosexuals in ancient Greece, especially in Sparta.”



    I refer our good parliamentarian to Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives”, especially his biographies of Licurgos and Agesilaus II. Especially the later:

    “2. While he was among the so‑called “bands” of boys who were reared together, he had as his lover Lysander, who was smitten particularly with his native decorum. “

    “11… Spithridates also, from the time when he abandoned Pharnabazus and came to Agesilaüs, always accompanied him in his journeys and expeditions. Spithridates had a son, a very beautiful boy, named Megabates, of whom Agesilaüs was ardently enamoured…

    …And apart from these manifest reasons, he was irritated beyond measure by his love for the boy, which was now instilled into his heart, although when the boy was present he would summon all his resolution and strive mightily to battle against his desires. Indeed, when Megabates once came up and offered to embrace and kiss him he declined his caresses. The boy was mortified at this, and desisted, and afterwards kept his distance when addressing him, whereupon Agesilaüs, distressed now and repentant for having avoided his kiss, pretended to wonder what ailed Megabates that he did not greet him with a kiss.”

    “20. For Agesipolis, the other king, since he was the son of an exile, in years a mere stripling, and by nature gentle and quiet, took little part in affairs of state. And yet he too was brought under the sway of Agesilaüs. For the Spartan kings eat together in the same “phiditium,” or public mess, whenever they are at home. Accordingly, knowing that Agesipolis was prone to love affairs, just as he was himself, Agesilaüs would always introduce some discourse about the boys who were of an age to love. He would even lead the young king’s fancy toward the object of his own affections, and share with him in wooing and loving, these Spartan loves having nothing shameful in them, but being attended rather with great modesty, high ambition, and an ardent desire for excellence, as I have written in my life of Lycurgus”

    And that’s all that you need to know about Spartan’s attitude toward “this stuff”.

    As for “the fact that we are in the process of smoothing over our relations with the European Union” – nice joke, lady!

    In the end, whether the bill will pass into the law or not it means only one thing – more Russia and Putin plaming from the west and some awkward “counter-actions” will follow.


    • yalensis says:

      “How dare you challenge my Spartan manliness!”

      P.S. –
      I like the name Megabates, that’s a cool name!
      If this guy owned a hostel, he could call it the “Megabates Motel”.


      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Oh, and this whole “See, I’ve brought more warriors than you!” also happened with Agesilaüs II – not with Leonidas.

        What the modern people fail to understand about the ancient (classical) Greeks – child “production” was a “chore” and “duty” for them. The “fun” was a different kind of beast altogether.

        Likewise, at height of the so-called “amour courtois” period in Europe it’s been a norm to have a wife (via an arranged marriage), a “dame of one’s heart” (often “admired” from afar without any physical contact)… all the while relieving one’s aristocratic pressure by chędożyć some local peasant wench.

        So, no – no one should call for historical examples of “love”.


        • yalensis says:

          A comma makes all the difference:

          “What’s this THING called LOVE?”
          “What’s THIS thing called, luv?”


          • yalensis says:

            P.S. – speaking of Milonov, which we weren’t, but anyhow…
            His latest caper was, of course, aside from the anti-twerking campaign, also shutting down the Tannhäuser at Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet. No great loss to mankind, probably, since the production sounds like it was god-awful. (The minstrel was Jesus Christ, they probably recycled some old costumes from the latest “Jesus Christ Superstar”.) But anyhow, Milonov got involved and shut it down, as sacreligious.

            And speaking of Tannhäuser, it is a perfect example of the difference between sacred (=Elizabeth) and profane (=Venus) love. And I will be attending the Met Live in HD production of Tannhäuser next week, and I imagine I will write a blog review of it. This Met production better be good, because I am kind of obsessed with this particular opera, and they don’t want to make me cranky.


  2. Cortes says:

    Tolstoy’s governess would peut etre smile sadly at telle betise by the wayward eleve

    se sont sorti



  3. Jen says:

    Didn’t the Ancient Greeks distinguish between active and passive partners in homosexual liaisons? It was expected of boys to be passive partners (catamites) but for a man to be passive in a homosexual encounter was considered beyond the pale.

    Also the kind of homosexual intercourse accepted by the Ancient Greeks was different: it was face-to-face and ejaculation occurred between the thighs. Anal sex was actually considered to be demeaning because it was a parody of the doggy style of sex men did with their wives, and considered no different from tilling the field with a plough.


    • yalensis says:

      Dear Jen:

      Yes, in my infitinite understanding of ancient history, that was my impression too, except that I did not know about the “ejaculate between the thighs” thing. Sounds a tad awkward and perhaps even frustrating at times (but benefit is, they could kiss and snuggle more, if they actually liked each other), but certainly more hygienic than actual straight-out sodomy. Especially in a world where there were very few bidets. (Unless you happened to live in Rome proper.)

      Albeit… Didn’t Plutarch (that flaming old gossip!) insinuate that the mighty Julius Caesar himself preferred to be the catamite, even as a grown man? No doubt due to Julius’ PTSD about that whole “captured by pirates” thing. He was probably re-living that experience over and over … and over and over…. and over and over….


    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Dear Jen and yalensis.

      Ahem, “this” have never been my sphere of expertise.I really don’t know all “hows” and “where” 🙂

      If we once again turn to Plutarch, then in his bio of Alcibiades we will learn about Athenian “take” on… this. Alcibiades had a lot of male lovers, which didn’t prevent him from having a son… and seducing Spartan king’s wife – not that because he was in love with her, but more like to “score” another victory.

      It was Cleanthes who said that any one beloved of him must be “downed,” as wrestlers say, by the ears alone, though offering to rival lovers many other “holds” which he himself would scorn to take, — meaning the various lusts of the body. And Alcibiades was certainly prone to be led away into pleasure. That “lawless self-indulgence” of his, of which Thucydides speaks, leads one to suspect this. However, it was rather his love of distinction and love of fame to which his corrupters appealed, and thereby plunged him all too soon into ways of presumptuous scheming, persuading him that he had only to enter public life, and he would straightway cast into total eclipse the ordinary generals and public leaders, and not only that, he would even surpass Pericles in power and reputation among the Hellenes:

      As for Ceasar and some hints about “his arse beign filled like a cup” – well, any famous person gets libeled! Suetonius in his “life of Ceasar” provides rather exhaustive list of JCs “scores”, all women, which indeed explains while his legionares sung during triumphs: “Fathers and husbands! Lock up your wifes and daughters – Our bald lecher is back in town”.

      Meanwhile, Suetonious mentions as something truly unsusual that Galba was an open homosexualist and had an adult (albeit younger then him) male lover. Plutach didn’t mention this in his “life of Galba”.


      • yalensis says:

        Dear Lyttenburgh:
        I simply do not understand what Cleanthes was trying to imply: That Alcibiades was doing something weird and improper into the other wrestler’s ears? I reckon the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling forbid such perversions!
        And as regards Plutarch: Well, we can’t necessarily believe anything that old Queen had to say. He was sort of the kreakl of his time: He would say anything to discredit a ruler he didn’t approve of.
        Speaking of which, Julius Caesar was apparently an equal-opportunity horny old goat. Because I have read that there was another saying about him, which his soldiers used to chant: “Mighty Caesar – the greatest man on the battlefield, and the greatest woman in the bed!” Implying that he preferred to be on the bottom, and also take it in the bottom. But once again, these were ancient Roman kreakls spreading these rumors, so why should we believe anything they say? (And they didn’t have a comment section in Plutarch’s time!).


        • Lyttenburgh says:

          Well, ah… It’s an allegory. Probably Russian academic translation of Plutarch (which yours truly owns) can be of more help here:

          “Клеанф и говорил, что Сократ держал своего возлюбленного за уши, оставляя соперникам немало удобных для захвата мест, которые ему самому недоступны, – чрево, срам, глотку… “

          Nuff said.


          • yalensis says:

            I am still confused! Are we talking this sort of thing?

            With Socrates the man in blue, and Alcibiades in the red. So, let’s say Plato enters the ring at this point, all eager to join in this scholarly debate about the nature of pure love. Well, don’t you see the logistical dilemma here? With both rivals in this vulnerable state, Plato is in a position where he can take either Socrates or Alcibiades, his choice if he preferred young meat or a well-aged steak.


            • Lyttenburgh says:

              Ahm… no.

              What this yet another Dead Ancient Greek ™ tries to say, that Socrates “held” Alcibiades bt ears – i.e. that Alcibiades listened to him and his teachings. But meanwhile Alcibiades numerous lovers got “hold” over guys other parts of the body… and, no, they didn’t try to harm said parts in any “greek style wrestlying” – on the contrary.

              But your blog, yalensis, is too pure and innocent, i’s visited reglarly by chaste vestals, uncorrupted youth and respectable matronas. So – no, I can’t post any suggestive images (even from the Greek vases) that could somehow illustrate in waht way did Alcibiades other lovers “affected” those parts of his body which they firmly held.

              What if senator Milonius sees that?!

              Liked by 1 person

            • yalensis says:

              Okay, I got it. My imagination was running too wild, mostly about Socrates and his unique wrestling style.
              But you are right, I run respectable blog here, and Senator Milonius must not shut me down, nor force me to drink hemlock!


  4. Cortes says:

    Stuprum was the offence for a Roman citizen of being a passive partner in a homosexual liaison.


    • yalensis says:

      Stuprum! Another great word. I had to look that one up in dictionary.

      To me it sounded at first like “stup-room”, maybe a Yiddish word, like a room where people go to shtupp.


      • Cortes says:

        Almost like tup in English.

        George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, has three anthologies of short stories about his life in HM forces in Palestine post WWII serving as a junior officer in the Gordon Highlanders. The first has the hilarious account of the court martial of “the dirtiest soldier in the world ” where proceedings are sidetracked by etymological questions.


  5. MusMeNow says:

    Константин Рыков ?@rykov Кто? Кто этот прекрасный депутат, проголосовавший за гей-пропаганду? Это же самый крутой каминг-аут в истории российского парламентаризма!


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