On Friday, news broke that NY rapper Mykki Blanco was moving his Moscow show to another venue after Solyanka, the club he was booked to perform at, was raided by police. Given Russia's current anti-homosexual propaganda laws, at the time it was unclear whether the raid had anything to do with Blanco's scheduled appearance. Blanco took to Facebook today to explain the events as he understands them: turns out that "right wing groups [had been] expressing discontent" with Solyanka for a long time, and it seems that its closure on the day of Blanco's appearance was coincidental.
Blanco has also shared a thoughtful short essay, as well as a series of photos and videos documenting his experiences in "Putin's Russia," where he has performed five times and where he partly recorded his recent release Gay Dog Food. The rapper and singer, who identifies as gay and usually cross-dresses in his performances, stressed that while he never sheds his "queerness" in performance, he's found it mostly easy to get by without incident on the streets of Russia because of the "male privilege" afforded him by his "birth male body." "People have said I'm 'brave' for continuing to show my support of Russian LGBT youth/persons [by] performing [and] visiting the country but if I were actually transgender, if I wasn't able to shed the skin of that reality would I actually be safe there at all? Would it be 'brave' or merely 'foolish' for me to think I would not be harassed," he asks. He also notes that he feels this tension is exacerbated in Moscow, while his experiences in the rest of Russia have been freer:
When I think of Russia I think of the secret gay house parties I have been too kissing boys drunk on vodka and caviar... I think of smoking weed in the Siberian forests and stumbling drunk in the Russian ghettos with my straight male friends. I think of going to the underground Russian gay clubs packed with muscle bound men in skin tight shirts and emo twinks softly gyrating to ear splitting trance...seeing 6"3 Glam Queens perform in thigh high boots and polyester wrap dresses like a Pre-Aids New York I never experienced. I remember having to run from the club to the car because gay bashing thugs had started a fight in the parking lot outside...I think about talking, flirting on gay social apps and sites like Grindr and Planet Romeo, exchanging pictures but being too afraid to actually meet given the horror stories of false profiles being used to lure gays into traps where they are humiliated. I think of my friend Sasha's mother's cooking and how she made sure I was fed multiple times round the clock in the comfort of her home. Russia is more to me than Moscow and I feel for Moscow because of how misunderstood that city is... really maybe I love Russia so much because I can relate to its 'outsider status.'"
To read Mykki's words in full and see the whole gallery of photos and videos from his time in Russia, visit his Facebook page.