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Story Publication logo April 24, 2014

Russia: Sochi's Gay Cabaret Mayak


Image by Misha Friedman. Russia, 2013.

With homophobic rhetoric now legitimized by federal law, being gay in Russia can be extremely...


Sochi's Cabaret Mayak, a popular hangout for both gay and straight, enjoyed the limelight during the Sochi Winter Olympics. Dozens if not hundreds of journalists visited the club over the course of the games. The club was jam-packed each night despite reported claims made by the city's mayor that there are no gays in Sochi.

Most world leaders attended neither opening nor closing ceremonies of the Olympics, a stand taken in protest of a Russian law that criminalizes homosexual "propaganda." Sochi's Cabaret, as well as all other LGBT activity across the country, fell into a legal gray zone. However, while the world was watching closely, the city's LGBT community was not harassed.

According to local activists, Sochi is one of the most tolerant cities in Russia, a place where many move, even from abroad. With the Olympics now over, how Cabaret Mayak will fare next remains to be seen.


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