Connect with us

Europe

This Russian Gay Couple Hopes Their Wedding Will Help Change Minds

News Agencies

Published

on

Xenia Baranova/Courtesy Mikhail Zygar and Jean-Michel Shcherbak

Xenia Baranova/Courtesy Mikhail Zygar and Jean-Michel Shcherbak

Tall and handsome, they walked hand in hand across Madison Square Park to look at the Flatiron Building. They were both smiling. They had many reasons to feel happy in New York City.

Mikhail Zygar, a celebrated Russian author (whose books focus on Putin’s elite and his use of propaganda), and his partner, Russian actor and model Jean-Michel Shcherbak, recently showed their home country an example of coming out with courage and honesty. They celebrated a big and fun wedding—their own—in Lisbon, Portugal. Russia has not seen a happy same-sex wedding before. Mikhail, former editor-in-chief of the Russian TV channel Rain, and Jean-Michel were the first to make that jump for each other.

LGBT, Terrified for Their Lives in Russia, and Desperate for Asylum

Dozens of friends, mostly exiled Russian journalists, came from all over the world to celebrate the couple in a picturesque square in the Portuguese capital. For three years they had to hide their love in Russia, where the law allows the removal of children from gay parents. And now Zygar’s 12-year-old daughter was with them at their happy party of friends and family.

Not all of their family members were present: Zygar’s father wrote to him in the first days of the war against Ukraine, that both he and his circle disrespected Zygar’s anti-war position—the two do not talk. And Shcherbak’s mother agrees with the Kremlin’s ideology. In the first days of the war she told him, “You are no longer my son,” for his anti-war position.

After their official ceremony on Oct. 25, Zygar took a deep breath and wrote on social media: “We got married. Love, freedom, truth and happiness. Start liberalization from yourself.”

Expecting a shaming storm in comments, he posted and turned his cellphone off. “I would compare it to a jump with a parachute,” he told The Daily Beast. “The lightness of being, the happiness, the relief I experienced was overwhelming,” Shcherbak added, with a big, happy smile on his face.



<div class="inline-image__caption">
<p>Mikhail Zygar, left, and husband Jean-Michel Shcherbak.</p>
</div>
<div class="inline-image__credit">Xenia Baranova/Courtesy Mikhail Zygar and Jean-Michel Shcherbak</div>
<p>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/kEE1ycupqEEdXbb1kWFNvQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTEwNTg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/f00f98e4d97729cdec5c419fd52748f5″><noscript><img alt=

Mikhail Zygar, left, and husband Jean-Michel Shcherbak.

Xenia Baranova/Courtesy Mikhail Zygar and Jean-Michel Shcherbak

” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/kEE1ycupqEEdXbb1kWFNvQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTEwNTg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/f00f98e4d97729cdec5c419fd52748f5″ class=”caas-img”>

Mikhail Zygar, left, and husband Jean-Michel Shcherbak.

Xenia Baranova/Courtesy Mikhail Zygar and Jean-Michel Shcherbak

It was his first visit to New York, and their honeymoon was full of new impressions and parties. Shcherbak and Zygar left Russia in early days of the war, moved to Berlin feeling “as if everything behind has been burnt,” Zygar said. “Here in New York on this trip I finally stopped missing the past,” Shcherbak added.

The public reaction to their wedding surprised the couple. They received thousands of supportive comments and warm personal messages from Russians, who were sincerely happy for them. “Our wedding turned out to be a unique discovery for many people. Each one of them has a chance to be free, in spite of stereotyped thinking,” Shcherbak said.

But neither his mother, nor Zygar’s father, a retired GRU officer, congratulated them. “My mother hates gay men, she let me understand it clearly, when I was 15 years old,” Shcherbak said. “The biggest surprise we had was the overwhelming supportive reaction from thousands of Russians, which basically shows that people in Russia are not homophobic, just brainwashed,” Zygar added.

The Russian economy may be shrinking, the Russian military has failed in all the Kremlin’s deadlines for winning the war in Ukraine, but the Russian authorities still find time to persecute Russia’s LGBTQ community. Lawmakers are discussing what else can be banned under the definition of so-called “LGBT propaganda”—now there is an idea to ban any promotion of homosexuality on the internet and in culture.

“The Kremlin is busy destroying the image of the enemy, since Putin’s war is the war against what the authorities constantly characterize as the decaying West—and they make their point by drafting LGBTQ and HIV-positive people into their argument,” out Russian journalist and personality Karèn Shainyan told The Daily Beast. “The guys’ wedding and public reaction to it demonstrated the gap between the state propaganda and public views. Something is changing in Russia for sure. In spite of the pressure, LGBTQ literature is growing very popular, and sells really well.”

The wedding was also a step toward the “creation of a new free and honest Russia,” Zygar hopes. Just a few days before their wedding, Russia designated Zygar, as a “foreign agent.” The writer learned from his Russian publisher that the authorities had created a list of “banned authors”—writers with an anti-war position—and distributed it around Moscow’s book stores. The blacklist included Dmitry Bykov, Boris Akunin, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, and Zygar himself. Stores were banned from putting Zygar’s work on the shelves alongside bestselling books; the books were still on sale but with a note inside that said: “Foreign agent.”

“By law every ‘foreign agent’ has to post the official label required by the authorities next to every post on social media, so we had previously discussed what kind of fun labels Misha should publish if he gets designated,” Shcherbak told The Daily Beast. “We agreed he would not stick to the required one.”

One of the supportive messages the couple received after their wedding was especially memorable. It came from Ukraine, and said: “We fight for your values too.” The turmoil of the last few months was overwhelming for both the grooms but the awareness of the steps they took was sharper than ever. “We knew that there was a lack of freedom in Russia, and now we realize we can fight for it with every step we make in our personal lives,” Zygar told The Daily Beast.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast’s biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast’s unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Breaking News

Advertisement

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment4 hours ago

M3GAN can’t sleep, can kill, and can obviously dance in new trailer

Between directing the original Saw film and his stewardship of the Conjuring franchise, filmmaker James Wan may have done more...

Entertainment4 hours ago

Why the Flaming Lips’ ‘Christmas on Mars’ is still the weirdest holiday movie ever

The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne in ‘Christmas on Mars.’ (Photo: Warner Bros.) Many psychedelic seasons ago, the weirdest holiday movie...

Entertainment4 hours ago

Why the Flaming Lips’s ‘Christmas on Mars’ is still the weirdest holiday movie ever

The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne in Christmas on Mars. (Photo: Warner Bros.) Many psychedelic seasons ago, the weirdest holiday movie...

Entertainment4 hours ago

Kathy Griffin blames Elon Musk for rise in hate on Twitter, says it feels like ‘Hitler 2.0’

Kathy Griffin sounds off on Elon Musk’s Twitter. (Photos: Getty Images) Kathy Griffin wasn’t that upset when Elon Musk suspended...

Entertainment4 hours ago

Charlize Theron Realized Aeon Flux Would ‘Flop’ While Making It: ‘Definitely Knew We Were in Trouble’

charlize theron Aeon Flux Jasin Boland/Paramount/Mtv/Kobal/Shutterstock Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux (2005) Charlize Theron said she “knew it from the...

Entertainment5 hours ago

Sundance Film Festival Announces 2023 Lineup, Including Michael J. Fox Documentary

Michael J Fox Jason Merritt/Getty Michael J. Fox The Sundance Film Festival is back. On Wednesday, the Sundance Institute announced...

Entertainment5 hours ago

Beverly D’Angelo’s Ex-Husband Gladly Divorced Her So She Could Be with Al Pacino: ‘He’s Fantastic’

Beverly D’Angelo rollout Al Pacino Dave Hogan/Getty Beverly D’Angelo is getting real about some of her past romances. In the...

Entertainment6 hours ago

Don Lemon hopes T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach return to ‘GMA3’ after suspension over affair rumors

Don Lemon offers “love and support” to former colleague T.J. Holmes after he was sidelined by GMA over Amy Robach...

Latest Sports

Sports40 mins ago

Fantasy Football: Which running backs have the best playoff schedules?

Is Jonathan Taylor going to be a league winner after all? His fantasy playoff schedule looks fun. Scott Pianowski audits...

Sports1 hour ago

What to make of the Cowboys going cold on OBJ

The Cowboys have been publicly recruiting Odell Beckham for several weeks, but the excitement has seemingly scaled back after he...

Sports2 hours ago

Coach Prime already making waves at Colorado, Scott Satterfield is in at Cincinnati & Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced

Dan Wetzel, Si’s Pat Forde & SI’s Ross Dellenger have a pod filled with news and analysis regarding the fallout...

Sports2 hours ago

5-star Clemson football recruit: Deion Sanders is ‘trying to holler at me’

Sanders, an NFL legend, accepted Colorado’s head coaching job last weekend. Now he’s trying to flip the Tigers’ top 2023...

Sports2 hours ago

Why Brock Purdy’s performance in victory over Dolphins blew Rex Ryan away

ESPN NFL analyst Rex Ryan says why he was blown away by how Brock Purdy performed in the 49ers' 33-17...

Sports3 hours ago

Former Michigan football captain Erick All of Fairfield has 3 finalists for his services

Former Fairfield tight end Erick All is transferring from Michigan and has a list of three finalists.

Sports3 hours ago

NFL Playoff Projection: Cowboys can still steal the NFC East title from the Eagles

The NFC East race is not over yet.

Sports4 hours ago

Willson Contreras reportedly agrees to five-year, $87.5 million deal with Cardinals

Willson Contreras spent his entire career with the division-rival Cubs.

Technology Hot News

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter? Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?
Technology1 month ago

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?

Elon Musk, the owner of the electric car company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX, and the richest man in the world,...

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours
Technology1 month ago

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours

WhatsApp services were affected in various countries of the world, including Pakistan, and India due to this users were facing...

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies
Technology2 months ago

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies currently occupy an odd place in society. They are no longer the super niche bizarre currency beloved by tech...

Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads
Editor Picks3 months ago

Personal data of people are sold on Google Play and Google Ads

It’s been two to three years since Google has been unknowingly hosting multiple apps from malicious actors who sell personal...

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours
Technology5 months ago

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours

An end-to-end encrypted email service Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours, netizens reported on social...

What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop
Technology7 months ago

What’s better for the student: a tablet or a laptop

Some analysts argue that computers have outlived their usefulness. There is some truth in this: PC and laptop sales are...

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary
Technology7 months ago

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary

USA: Elon Musk, the founder of companies like Tesla and SpaceX, can actually buy anything in the world. Last month,...

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat? How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?
Technology7 months ago

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?

Pakistan: Zafar Supari a public figure, businessman, and social media sensation has crossed one hundred thirty-three thousand 133k subscribers on...