PHOTOS: Elton John Ready to Join Celebrities Who’ve Run Afoul of Russian Thuggery

putin-gfHas Vladimir Putin finally met his match in Sir Elton John? It’s starting to look that way. Or maybe we’re watching an international incident in the making.

Sir Elton’s not backing down from his plans for two nights of performances in Russia this weekend. We have to admit that we had our doubts that it would actually happen, since Russia’s insane antigay laws would seem to outlaw his message of human rights. But organizers have confirmed that the curtain will rise this weekend, antigay laws be damned.

There are lots of ways this could still go south, of course. As eternal pessimists, we’re dreading the news about police crackdowns at the concerts, or skinheads inciting violence, or Russian officials arresting Sir Elton and sending him to the spice mines.

The country hadn’t exactly welcomed LGBT-friendly performers I’m the past. Here are some “greatest hits” of Western performers who ran afoul of Russia’s latest antigay purge.



Something you may not know about Madonna is that she’s really good at getting attention. Last year at a concert in St. Petersburg she declared, “Gay people here and all around the world have the same rights.” Authorities were not amused, but they didn’t charge her with violating the propaganda laws — instead, they claimed that she violated her tourist visa by working. (Which actually seems like a legitimate gripe.) Since then, she’s continued to lend her name to the fight for LGBT equality is Russia, joining the HRC in penning a letter about the upcoming Olympics that reads, in part, “Together, we can send a message to LGBT Russians that the world is on their side, and that those who seek to support them aren’t alone in this fundamental fight for fairness.”


lady gaga

Wherever Madonna goes, Lady Gaga can’t be far behind. “Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house,” she told the crowd at a concert last year. Again, authorities dinged her on a visa violation rather than the antigay laws.
Tilda Swinton 
She held up a rainbow flag aloft in Moscow a couple of weeks ago. Nobody seemed to hassle her about it.
The Bloodhound Gang 
Who knew they were still a thing? Apparently Russian authorities do, because they banned the group from the country for five years after one of them stuffed a Russian flag down his pants. Sounds pretty gay to us.
Jonah Hill and Kristen Bell 
Like Madonna, they’re partnering with the HRC to raise awareness in advance if the Sochi Olympics. Hill and Bell donned shirts reading “Love Conquers Hate” in Cyrillic, and posted selfies. This is the only acceptable use of selfies.
Selena Gomez 
Nobody’s quite sure why Selena had to cancel her concerts, but the rumor is that authorities were spooked by the pro-equality statements of previous western performers. Officially, she simply couldn’t get a visa in time. Unofficially, we have no idea why Selena Gomez is famous.