“I don’t worry about it,” he said. “In Sochi, people don’t worry about it. I’ve never heard of anyone having any issues.”
For teen, worries aplenty
Later that afternoon, a 17-year-old sat in a cafe a few blocks from City Hall, discussing his life as a gay resident of Sochi. He had to drop out of school at the beginning of the year because someone hacked into his social media page and showed his classmates references to his sexual orientation.
He was taunted constantly. Kids would come to his classroom door, saying, “Can we see the gay guy?” He went to the school psychologist. “She told me, ‘Could you possibly change your sexual outlook?’ ”
She told his mother he was abnormal. When he told his mother a few years ago that he was gay, she told him he would burn in hell. Eventually, she accepted him.
He is better off than most, he said. “I have the nerve to struggle,” he said. Eventually, he was allowed to change schools.
The new law has made life worse for gays, he said. “Now Russian leaders express homophobic attitudes on TV,” he said. “It gives homophobes approval to beat up gay people. Now some who didn’t care about my sexuality before tell me it’s wrong.”
He doesn’t endorse a boycott of the Games, but he would like to see pro-gay demonstrations during the event. “I would like the whole world to know what’s going on here,” he said. “The authorities won’t allow it. They will make everything look smooth and quiet.”
Putin has banned demonstrations and public gatherings in Sochi from Jan. 7 to March 21.
The teen would like the world to know his name. He wants to stand up for himself and acknowledge who he is. But now is not the time. There’s a dark city block thick with bushes and shrubs between his bus stop and his apartment building, a good place for an attacker to spring out. No, now is not the time to divulge his name.
“The mayor must live in some other Sochi,” he said.