Roxanne Tellier: To Russia With Love

Roxanne DBAWIS“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything” – Alexander Hamilton.

I stand for human rights. Apparently, Russia does not.

On June 30 this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” A certain segment of Russians decided that this bill allowed them to lure, torture, beat and otherwise harm other humans.

This bill is a violation of the fundamental, constitutionally protected rights of Russia’s gay citizens. Even so, Russian diplomats will tell you Gay Putinthat discrimination does not exist in Russia because the country’s constitution forbids it. A twisted logic indeed. The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for violating articles 11, 13, and 14 of the European Convention. Russia paid their fine, and carried on regardless.

Amnesty International has condemned the anti-gay propaganda law as an “affront to freedom of expression and an attack on minority rights.” U.S. President Barack Obama noted at a White House news conference that “nobody’s more offended than me” by the anti-gay legislation “you’ve been seeing in Russia.”

Yes, there are other countries that persecute LGBT citizens, and it’s wrong wherever that’s happening. However, Russia is looking forward to hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in six months.  The eyes of the world will be on Russia, and Russia is counting on making quite a lot of money from the event.

russiagayPetitions have been circulating, asking that the Olympics be moved to another venue, citing potential danger to the competing athletes and visitors. The LGBT spokespeople are comparing this law and how it’s being interpreted to the actions of pre-war Nazi Germany. I agree. Our sexuality is not a choice; it is hardwired in our brain from birth. Just as we are born Jewish, Christian, or any other faith, we are born to be gay, straight, bisexual, or gender challenged.

Police detain a gay rights activist in St PetersburgMe, I’m incensed. I’m angry that the law exists, and that the IOC is not taking a firm stand on this human rights violation. I’m not gay, but I respect people who are, just as I respect people who have a different coloured skin, or a different faith. I hate mealy mouthed, mamby-pamby people, who hide behind their computers to snipe at those who are passionate about the rights of others to pursue their hopes and dreams.

But I’m just one, rather short, French girl. So, in the spirit of true human kindness, I offer these songs to those who cannot bear to grant people, who are not exactly like them, the right to live and love freely.

I heard of Tom Robinson in 1977, when his first album was released. His “2-4-6-8 Motorway,” about a gay truck driver, hit #5 in the UK charts.

But it was his 1976 hit, “Glad To Be Gay,” written for London’s Pride Parade, that brought him international fame. Come to think of it – it’s a perfect theme song for Russia’s Olympics.

I followed Toronto’s Rough Trade for years. All of Carole Pope’s lyrics hinted at a world unlike any world I knew, and her sexuality was always a large part of the group’s mystique. Tim Curry covered her song, “Birds of A Feather” in 1979. But most Canadians remember how shocking this gender-bending song sounded on AM radio.

Carole sounds positively demure, compared to 1979’s “Jet Boy Jet Girl.” From Wiki, “”Jet Boy, Jet Girl” is a song by punk/new-wave band Elton Motello about a 15-year-old boy’s sexual relationship with an older man, who then rejects him for a girl. With its chorus of “ooh ooh ooh ooh, he gives me head” it has been embraced as something of a gay punk anthem.”

Tracy Ullman’s 1983 pop song, “They don’t know” seemed aimed at straight couples, but the words speak to us all.

When Melissa Etheridge burst on the scene in 1985, she was low-key about being a lesbian. “Bring Me Some Water” earned her a Grammy nomination. By the time she recorded the #1 BillBoard Hit, “I’m The Only One,”   she was out and proud.

In 1981, Soft Cell released “Tainted Love.” Even the little girl in this video couldn’t keep a straight face. Oh, Marc Almond … how you tease!

Openly gay group Bronski Beat, with singer Jimmy Somerville, took this haunting song to worldwide success in 1984.

As the years rolled by, more and more artists came out of the closet. A good song, is a good song, is a good song.

Rufus Wainwright, son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, has a huge body of work. His songs are pried from the heart of a man who’s battled physical and mental demons.

Adam Lambert – too hot for American Idol!

When you can’t believe it’s over: Matt Alber’s “End of the World.”

Frank Ocean’s “Forrest Gump” celebrates puppy love … in this case, Frank’s first crush – on a man.

Unrequited love hurts, no matter how old you are, or whom you’re crushing on. Ivri Lider remembers “Jesse.”

It really breaks my heart to read the vile comments under this beautiful song. The message of “Same Love” is, “”no matter what God you believe in, we come from the same one.” Apparently some people disagree. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Here’s a song to play at a wedding or commitment ceremony. Everyone should have the right to marry. “Of all my beliefs, I believe in love most.” From Brett Every, “What a Beautiful Day.”

I had the honour of singing backups on this song by Anna Gutmanis last year. (I’m waaaay over on the right, grinning and singing my heart out, in the dark.) This song has gotten a lot of airplay and I wish Anna all success. Because … People … gotta get it together.

It’s a big world, full of people with talent, hopes and dreams. There’s room enough for all. Even in Russia.

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

One Response to “Roxanne Tellier: To Russia With Love”

  1. […] a certain topic this week, one that’s been on my mind for some time now.  In her wonderful way, Roxanne brought to light a controversial and deeply saddening subject, and, to put it as succinctly as I […]

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