PHOTOS: What It’s Like In The Gay Bar At Ground Zero Of The Russian Olympics

sochi mayak drag queenIt’s hard to imagine running a gay club under the threat of government crackdown, terrorist attacks and abduction, but somehow the owners of the Mayak in Sochi are soldiering on.

Reuters photographer Thomas Peter paid a visit to the nightclub and snapped a few shots, as well as portraits of brave members of the LGBT community.

There’s no sign outside and the windows are blacked out, but inside the party’s still going… for now. The audience is mostly straight, Reuters reports, since LGBTs have been scared underground or abroad by violence elsewhere.

The owner of the Mayak says that his customer base has dwindled to the point that there simple aren’t any gay people left.

Meanwhile, other gay clubs in Russia have faced poison gas attacks, so hopefully this coverage won’t attract any backlash. With the eyes on the international community on Sochi, it’s hard to imagine it would go un-noticed.

Click through below for some amazing shots, and check out the rest of the photo gallery here.

sochi kiss
sochi gay club
sochi mayak founder
sochi mayak stripper

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  • 2eo

    It’ll be a blast.

  • Cam

    So there are no gays going to the gay bar. Pretty much says it all right there. Though I’m sure Johnny Weir would find a way to claim that this is a good thing.

  • jimbryant

    This gay bar looks as if it’s trying to be heteronormative. It’s got the customary man dressed as a woman, the twink with no top on…. LOL. I can’t think of anything more discouraging.

    Surely it’s time to put a giant vacuum cleaner through the entire gay scene, not just in Russia but throughout the world. There needs to be a total clean-out. The mindset is stale, self-stereotyping, and ultimately self-demeaning.

  • indiancowboy

    @jimbryant: Of course they have to try to be heteronormative in such a repressive society, and even more so when gays don’t dare to come any more so they need some straight customers in order to stay alive.

  • Tyler100


    If we’re gonna vacuum clean the entire gay scene, we should probably start with the closet cases and nasty queens who have nothing nice to say (looking at you, Jimmy).

  • MK Ultra

    No matter how many gay or formerly gay clubs Russia wants to add to the scene, that doesn’t change the disgusting overall picture.

  • jimbryant


    Oh, please, stop playing the victim card. I would bet London to a brick that gay bars in New York are exactly the same: customary man dressed as woman miming to bad Britney songs while twinks without tops attempt to dance with thin chicken legs.

  • 2eo

    @Cam: Have you noticed since the news the calls for a boycott are working, the halfwit Fagburn has being persona non gratis?

  • fagburn

    Interesting what Queerty or Reuters have edited out of this story…

    ‘If President Obama was trying to send a message by appointing openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King to the official American delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he may have nailed it for some in Sochi’s gay community.

    ‘While gay rights groups in the United States have called for a boycott of the games to protest Russia’s harsh new anti-gay laws, Sochi’s gays don’t necessarily see it that way.

    ‘Behind a heavy, locked door, in a dark alley just off the beach promenade, Sochi’s biggest gay club, Mayak Cabaret, is packed.

    ‘The owner, Andrei Tanichev, told ABC News recently that he’s against an Olympic boycott. He also opposes a massive gay rights protests during the games, fearing the gay community will be blamed for ruining the event. Instead, he’d like to see athletes and fans show their support in more subtle ways…’

  • 2eo

    He’s like Beetlejuice, if Beetlejuice was simply a c*nt.

  • Polaro

    I hope that something good comes out of this. I’m not going to watch.

    I have been and continue to be in favor of a sponsor boycott. I have not been in favor of a US boycott, as in the US not sending athletes. While not wanting to rub in the fact that my preference on this won out, I sure hope it was not the wrong decision. While I respect and understand the majority opinion here that the US should boycott, I just never thought it would happen or be useful to our cause.

    I do wish everyone Obama sent officially was an out LGBT person, with secret service protection. I cringe to think about which high profile republicans will attend to score points.

  • MK Ultra

    @fagburn: That article looks like propaganda to me, but if Tanichev really said that only beautiful, masculine gays that look like “ordinary men” should come out, bro can fvck himself. Suddenly disinterested.

  • fagburn

    @2eo: Oops! Looks like you forgot to switch to your other Queerty id 2eo/Cam.

  • fagburn

    @MK Ultra: Propaganda from the Putinistas at ABC News!

  • the other Greg

    @jimbryant: Gee – you have an odd notion of what constitutes “heteronormative.” I would have thought something more like the Mattachine Society guys, in suits & ties at Julius in NYC back in 1966: – You’d have fit right in!

  • MK Ultra

    @fagburn: Yes propaganda from ABC, just like NBC is currently producing russian propaganda. They want access to the russian market

  • Spike

    Does anyone think that it would be any different here in the US if a extremist evangelical republican were to become President? Our Constitution is meaningless once an extremist majority take control of the Govt. and decide that we do not deserve the same rights as they.

  • fagburn

    @MK Ultra: Uh-huh.
    Can you think of any other examples of propaganda in the USA today?

  • MK Ultra

    @fagburn: Well I’m certain there’s propaganda in every country from governments, corporations, religions, etc…But that’s neither here, no there. The topic before us is this gay nightclub in Sochi and the atmosphere towards LGBT in Russia.
    This article claims Mayak’s gay crowd is dwindling and now there’s mostly straight people. The article you posted claims Mayak is one of the biggest gay clubs there and is packed wall to wall. One story says that gays have been forced underground, the other that gays are happily accepted among the straights.Two different pictures.
    Considering how Russia has tried to use its gay clubs in Moscow to prove their “tolerance” towards their LGBT, and since then these clubs have been attacked several times,it seems likely this club is another red herring in Russia’s PR machine.

  • fagburn

    @MK Ultra: I don’t think it is.
    But it’s certainly instructive how people can spin two completely different versions out of the same story…

  • AuntieChrist

    @Spike: I am pretty sure that if certain folks were to have their way we would all be rounded up and shipped off to Siberia or Antarctica.

  • AuntieChrist

    Jesse Owens participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4×100 meter relay team. He was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics…Needless to say Hitler was not pleased…I read an interview by a lesbian hockey player who said that a show of strength in Sochi was far better than a boycott.

  • MK Ultra

    @fagburn: I’m sure you can appreciate that. Your website is monument to bad spin.
    @AuntieChrist: We can hope, but the fact is Russian homophobia will dramatically increase after the Olympics and unlike Nazi Germany, no one will seriously challenge Russia.

  • AuntieChrist

    @MK Ultra: Oh well…I tried to put a positive light in an otherwise bleak and darkened room…Seems like no matter what I say I am either wrong an idiot or a D-bag, relegated to the same special needs class as bryant,dixie,fagburn and the rest…Guess I’ll go back to Huff Post where one is only allowed to make the most innocuous comments.

  • MK Ultra

    @AuntieChrist: I wasn’t attacking your optimism. I thinks it’s great to keep a positive attitude when everything appears so bleak, like it does for LGBT Russians now. Someone certainly has to.

  • AuntieChrist

    @MK Ultra: I knew that..Sorry that I was remiss in thanking you…I too often do a direct brain to keyboard without thinking. Guess that’s what gets me in trouble. I have always been impulsive :-) xxoo

  • 2eo

    The problem with them turning up, and the entire problem with the Jesse Owens anecdote is that they accomplished nothing.

    Russia are not threatened by LGBT allies, athletes and delegates, they are terrified of losing sponsors and actual negative fallout from a flop of an olympics.

    Germany in 1936 held the olympics, Jesse Owens did well, Hitler didn’t care, the olympics brought in over $100,000,000 to Germany and funded their war preparations, it brought in the wealth to allow for an expansion of the “forced labour camps” and the construction of thousands of tanks, planes and a million soldiers training.

    What the world needs is to show that Russian christian evil will not be tolerated in the twenty first century, we need nations who are willing to stand up to the mental orthodoxy, these people have had hundreds of years to change and they haven’t.

  • 2eo

    I know I constantly come across as a negative protagonist, it isn’t intentional, I’m just moderately dour.

  • Kathy T. Williams

    like Steven replied I’m amazed that people able to get paid $6571 in a few weeks on the internet. check this link right here now,…

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: Well then there is nothing to be accomplished by a boycott…Russia does not care they’re not going to change and according to the locals…Quote..”There is no gay community here. It’s a myth,” said Roman Kochagov, who co-owns Mayak.

    “The number of gays has dropped for years. Every year there have been fewer and fewer … now they have almost all disappeared,” he said, adding that he himself is looking to leave the country…So why are we even talking about it..? It is a moot point…Probably because we have nothing better to do…Happy solstice bitches :-)

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: So lets just watch porn and toss one off.

  • the other Greg

    @2eo: On the bright side:

    Can Russia possibly turn a profit at this point? The most cautious estimates of the Olympics’ cost to Russia so far are $50 billion. (!!!!!) Probably much higher.

  • the other Greg

    @2eo: Also on the bright side:

    Feb. temperatures in the Sochi area are routinely above 40 degrees F. There are a few ski-iable mountains around, that’s about it. Somehow the evil genius Putin picked the ONE place in Russia that doesn’t actually have much of a winter!

    Also on the “bright” side:

    The whole area is seething with Muslim separatist sentiment. Chechya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, etc. Plus a non-Muslim country (Georgia) still pissed off at Russia about a recent (2008) war and the Abkhazia problem.

    Your first comment here, “It’ll be a blast,” is probably a safe prediction.

  • Cam


    Interesting how your excerpt there forgot to mention that the owner of the bar has also said that all of the gays stopped coming. So basically the article is claiming that gays in Sochi do not want a boycott, and as their evidence they ask the owner of a gay bar with no gays in it that stands to profit.

    I get that you are anti-gay, but your desperate attempts to pretend that standing up to the wretch in Russia is bad are just sad, obvious and frankly getting boring.

  • 2eo

    @the other Greg: muslims killing christians, as long as it is tit for tat every good person wins.

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