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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Russia Now Straightwashing Tchaikovsky from Queer History

John Avarosis:
As part of Russia’s ongoing cultural and physical pogrom against gay people, the country is now trying to “in” one of its greatest gay cultural icons: Pyotr Tchaikovsky... The latest step by official Russia-dom in annihilating gay people is to take away our history. That’s why the Russians are now censoring books, and attempting to remove famous gays, like Tchaikovsky, from Russian history all together. Fat chance... The NYT reports that a prominent Russian screenwriter, Yuri Arabov, is making a movie about Tchaikovsky, with state funding, and he’s announced that he won’t be mentioning that Tchaikovsky was gay because, get this, “it is far from a fact that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual.” Interestingly, the Soviets used to play the same trick Putin’s Russia is now playing, trying to deny that Tchaikovsky was gay. Sadly, the NYT reporter leaves the lie just sitting there, unrebutted. Well, it’s time for some butt... The Soviets were so good at lying, it’s almost pathetic what a bad job Putin is doing with this entire affair. If I were a Russian, I’d be looking for another leader, because the current one is making that country a laughing-stock. After all, I wouldn’t have even known that Tchaikovsky was gay (I honestly didn’t know), had the Russians not made such a big deal of it.
There is actually a very good case to be made that we should take care about the ways in which we assimilate the rich historical and planetary diversity of queer lifeways into readily digestable conventional gay icons celebrating gayness as a realized or aspirational form of monogamously marriageable consumers shopping for landfill-destined crap when they aren't shooting the nation's official enemies on the battlefield. But it must be noted that this critique hardly provides a rationale for the even more outrageously falsifying assimilation of queer lifeways into outright straight propaganda. This reminds me of the ways in which reactionary patriarchal politics sometimes seeks to pretend that performative accounts of the materializations of sex-gender invalidate feminist claims and ends rather than providing, as they do, more historically situated substantiation for feminist claims and hence an incomparably better sense on the ground of the opportunities available to achieve feminist ends. It is important to queer Wilde and Woolf and Tchaikovsky both from straight and from gay-assimilationist narratives, and for many of the same reasons.

1 comment:

jimf said...

Well, you know, Tchaikovsky was far from "out and proud", and
there's a theory that his death, officially attributed to
cholera, was actually a suicide prompted by the threat of the
revelation of the 53-year-old composer's affair with the
18-year-old nephew of a Russian aristocrat.