Discover our local Gay Moscow Guide and insiders’ recommendations, for best gay bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, monuments, shopping …
With a population of 12 millions, Moscow is both the largest city in Russia and Europe.
It accounts for a third of the country’s economic activity, wages are three times higher than in the rest of the country, and the city has the largest concentration of billionaires in the world, well before New York, London or Singapore.
Moscow, although geographically and historically located in Europe, is like Russia a world in its own right
Dominated by the 7 Stalinist skyscrapers, and by a whole series of new, more capitalist buildings, Moscow is a city that is both superb and chaotic, marked by a violent history and an extreme climate.
The city was built around the Kremlin Palace, which remains today the center of the city and of the Russian Empire. Crossing the Patriarch’s bridge, you will discover a breathtaking view of the Kremlin.
Red Square and Saint Basil’s Cathedral are some of the highlights of your visit.
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is one of the city’s most important museums, famous for its impressionist works, among a collection of 640,000 pieces. The Tretyakov Gallery offers a vast collection, with 16,000 paintings ranging from orthodox icons to Soviet realism.
To complete this visit, the Moscow metro, beyond a means of transport that allows you to escape chaotic car traffic, is a piece of art on itself. The communist regime wanted to turn it into a museum, accessible to the people daily.
You will travel tightly but under an avalanche of marble, mosaics, and gilding. Looking at some of the frescoes more closely, you will discover stakhanovists workers with bandaged muscles and very virile peasant women. Maybe gay and lesbians who escaped the communist rafles.
If you have the opportunity, spend an evening at the Bolshoi Theatre, for a classical dance performance with graceful dancers with rounded buttocks. The setting is dazzling, especially since the theatre was completely renovated a few years ago.
You can discover the superb ancient public baths and saunas, like those of Saudunovkiye and its magnificent setting from the beginning of the 20th century. Discretion is still required as it is not a place for flirting.
Gay life in Russia
Russia cannot be defined as a gay-friendly country.
And this situation existed long before Vladimir Putin came to power.
The country has a tradition of violent repression of homosexual populations.
“Bourgeois and Western perversion,” “Crime against the Soviet State and the proletariat,” “Tradition foreign to the working class”…
In Russian history, whether tsarist or Soviet, there has long been a desire to create a purely heterosexual country.
The idea that homosexuality is a product imported from Western Europe is still ingrained today.
The prohibition of homosexuality was included in the Criminal Code in 1832. Rural, religious and traditional Russia supports this decision.
Thought, at the beginning of the 20th century, gay life gradually developed, particularly in Saint Petersburg.
Prince Felix Yusupov, a member of the imperial family and future murderer of Rasputin, is a flamboyant homosexual, surrounded by extravagant guys.
If the Bolshevik Revolution began by emancipating homosexuals, women, and minorities, this break only lasted a few years.
Since 1924, arbitrary arrests of homosexuals following denunciations have become commonplace, particularly in artistic circles.
From 1933 to the 1980s, homosexuality was heavily repressed, with sentences of up to 5 years in prison, or in extreme cases deportation to the gulag, the Soviet version of concentration camps. Many gays were killed during Stalin’s reign.
Despite this repression, homosexuality has not disappeared. Gays live hidden, at the mercy of blackmail and denunciations, exacerbated by daily promiscuity. It was usual to have 3 or 4 families sharing the same flat, so privacy did not exist, and day-to-day social control was intense.
A few rare people, such as the famous dancer Rudolf Nureyev, managed to escape the country to join the Western world.
However, as in many totalitarian regimes, propaganda focused on the eroticization of young men and women, mainly through the arts.
Everywhere, in the metro and museums, half-naked bodies were exposed, in sensual poses.
Even today, the Russian population is still very much influenced by this negative vision of homosexuality that has ruled the country for more than 100 years.
In 2019, Russia manages to have homophobic dancers among its most fabulous ballet corps. The situation is even worse in some former Soviet republics, such as Chechnya a or Belarus.
Thought, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993 and gays have been able to serve in the army since 2003.