Tensions surrounding Russia’s new “gay propaganda” laws have reached a fever pitch, and though we’ve been sending love and support to our LGBT comrades abroad, we’ve been particularly worried about one of our favorite Russian citizens—the beautiful, sometimes androgynous and always muscular hunk, model Pavel Petel.
The Back Building landed an interview with Petel, and it’s the first time he’s speaking out since the “gay propaganda” laws were passed.
We wish we could tell you that he’s doing well, but his report from behind enemy lines is one of the most disturbing we’ve read. In the interview, Petel says he’s been attacked in the streets, has changed the way he dresses to avoid confrontation, and legitimately fears for his safety:
The Back Building: So Pavel, what’s it like in Russia right now?
Pavel Petel: I am very disappointed. You know that I don’t have anything in Russia besides the love of my fans. Previously, I was not allowed on television due to censorship, and magazines were afraid of publishing me…I became famous only because of the internet.
A lot of pop-stars, movie- and TV-stars, as well as politicians – all hide their homosexuality. Everyone is on their own with their own interests. People are afraid of losing what they have. People are just afraid. I am also worried about my life and I don’t have enough strength to openly express my opinion. Because there is no one to protect…no one will help.
TBB: Do you feel safe in Moscow?
PP: No, sometimes people threaten me and sometimes they even attack. That’s why I started changing my appearance in Russia. I am worried about my life and health. Nevertheless, everybody recognizes me out on the streets and wants to take pictures with me. Of course, society now is more aggressive towards people like me. Sometimes I am really scared, but, as I have said before, I don’t have an opportunity to move to the States at the moment. This process requires a lot of documents, and more importantly – money.
TBB: A lot of your art is you cross-dressing and being naked in public. Do you worry how this will be perceived in respect to the new laws?
PP: Yes, I will censor and change my style. But I will do this not only because of the new laws. I want to become more famous, and I want my materials to meet the Youtube standards and the standards of other social networks.
TBB: Do you think the Winter Olympics and World Cup should continue to be held there?
PP: You know that money decides everything in this world. And no one will ever cancel Winter Olympics in Russia. I want to say that I do not support ineffective boycotts. It would be so much better if America helped people like me, instead of using its energy in a negative way. Boycotts cause aggression, and Russian authorities would have more reasons to close the borders and internet.
But when famous artists and politicians will give speeches about their positive attitude towards gays, when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Same Love” will be on top of the music charts, when there will be gay love shown in Hollywood movies, and when the Nobel Price will be awarded to a person who is fighting for gay equality – progress will be noticed.
TBB: Do you have any words of encouragement for the LGBT community in Russia?
PP: I know that everything will be alright. Crying and fighting will not help you change anything. You need to try and stay strong! Everything can be changed only if you study, become politicians, achieve power and make the country not only rich, but also free!