The Failure of Gay-Revolution in Russia or the Story of t.A.T.u.

Despite the fact I’m only seventeen, I’ve always been seriously concerned about equality problems in my country. There’s no denying the fact that Russia is well-known for having one of the most homophobic governments all over the world. Everyone has had probably heard about the gay-propaganda law, that was signed by Vladimir Putin on 30 June 2013 for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values. Pretty freaked, yeah?

Protests against Russian Anti-Gay Law

I cannot lie — living with that kind of political system is really hard and tough. But I still believe in a brighter future all of the Russians can achieve together anyway.

t.A.T.u. who?

Not many people are being possessed of these facts, but about 15 years ago, the situation inside of a country differed slightly. Have you ever heard about the girl-duo t.A.T.u.? Neither did I. Until I accidentally came across a music video on YouTube of two girls kissing each other. The things appeared in my mind were something like: “Wait, aren’t they Russians? Then why girls kissing each other? And why do they sing in English? And why do they have more than 100M views on YT?!”. No lying, I felt curious. That was about 2 AM in the morning, so, basically, in next three hours, I’ve been looking forward to finding out everything about the band through all of the internet until the sun raised in my window.

t.A.T.u. for “Dangerous and Moving” album promo campaign
Cover for the debut “200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane” album

It was surprising enough for me to find out, that two teenage girls who were born and raised in Moscow, not only achieved huge commercial success worldwide, selling over 8M copies of their debut album but also spread the idea, that the same-sex love is OK. And their songs — oh God, their songs! The music, the lyrics, the atmosphere — everything is perfect! The tracks on their debut work might help some of us to understand, how hard it is for someone who is gay. Losing your mind and head in “All The Things She Said”, getting away from all over the world that doesn’t accept your sexuality in “Not Gonna Get Us” or uncontrolled need for expressing your feelings in “Show Me Love” — all of the songs perfectly depict the condition of a gay teenager raising in a homophobic society.

Fake Lesbians

Every love story has an alternative ending and t.A.T.u. is not an exception. While for the first years of band existence, the duo members were immoral enough (or freaky enough) to simulate masturbation on national TV, kiss each other on stage and wear anti-war T-Shirts saying “F*** the war” in Russian (originally: Хуй Войне!»), then their second and third album eras were much more conservative comparing to the first one.

Volkova and Katina wearing “F*** the War” T-Shirts during their performance

The main reason for that kind of difference is a conflict between girls and their producer, the author of lesbian love story, Ivan Shapovalov, with whom they split up in 2004. The leader of t.A.T.u.’s brainstorm team left the building and girls went by their own making some huge mistakes on their way.

t.A.T.u. (2006)

Their lesbian-themed 2-year show has finished. Instead of reclassifying the project completely and getting away from gay-love direction, Lena and Julia honestly explained: “That was just a role we were playing! We’ve always loved each other no more than sisters!”. That’s a bullshit to say after kissing on stage, right?

All The Things They Said…

Otherwise, it would be way too unfair to deny t.A.T.u.’s impact on society — especially the Russian one. Can you imagine that kind of a band appearing in the early 00s in Russia? The country where it was OK to put people in jail for being gay for more than 70 years! Honestly, I still hardly believe it happened out there!And t.A.T.u.’ve made it! They’ve started the LGBT revolution in Russia. Lena and Julia told journalists later, that many of the Russian gay teens called the t.A.T.u.’s office with a gratitude for helping them to understand that it’s as fine for a girl falling in love with a girl and a boy falling in love with a boy as it’s normal for a boy falling in love with a girl. The project has had literally saved so many people’s lives by preventing them from suicide.

.. And All the Things They Said After

t.A.T.u. went far away from their LGBT-themed conception of the band, which hasn’t gained much success. The popularity of t.A.T.u. felt down. The project finished its existence in 2009, after releasing its last international work called “Waste Management”

“Waste Management” promo photo
Ukrainian TV show “Lie Detector”

Lena and Julia started working on their solo projects. Later on, during the talk-show in 2013 on Ukrainian TV, Julia claimed, that she would condemn her son if he appears to be homosexual.

Lena acted herself differently. Katina is still performing in many of the biggest Gay clubs and participating in LGBT-themed festivals all over the world. In my opinion, that’s the right kind of a behavior, the star that used to pretend to be a lesbian, should have.

Katina perfoming at Central Station “gay club”

Now I have only one question left. How is it even possible for a country, whose the one and only worldwide succeed artist have had built their public image on homosexuality, to be the capital of a homophobic world? I have no answer, sadly.

Lena Katina and Julia Volkova

Fingers crossed for the best, anyway!