When you arrive in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, it seems like travelled in time. It is a fascinating town with winding streets and the surrounding mountains. But as soon as the sun sets, the eye immediately catches the General decline. Over the past quarter century, Tbilisi suffered the collapse of the Soviet Union, civil war and revolution. All this has left a maze of cracked sidewalks, natural residential structures, which probably was conceived as temporary, and stretched between the ropes for drying clothes: children’s clothing, men’s pants, a huge quilt — all utterly zastiranny.
In the heart of the city is a concert hall Tbilisi, rounded building with 2,200 seats, giving a faded modernist spirit. Behind the scenes — a huge collage of black-and-white photographs from the first rock festival in the USSR, as the inscription, is made of hand-carved letters. On the ground floor is a diner, American style titled “Elvis,” it’s closed, maybe because of the event, which will be held in the concert hall of the tenth world Congress of families. At the conference from more than 50 countries will gather delegates, each of which upholds the principles of “protection of family, faith and freedom.”
Their main rhetoric is that the family is “the natural family”, that is, one which consists of men and women and their biological children, the basis of human civilization is threatened by a triad of hazards: same-sex marriage, “gender ideology,” (meaning that the idea of gender as a social construct), contraception and abortion. All three elements are part of the “culture of death”. While the world Congress of families is the epitome of a “culture of life”.
A few minutes before the scheduled beginning of the Congress his famous parties with red laminated badges around behind the scenes. An Orthodox priest is incredibly high-growth stands in front of an audience, speaking in American English. It is the father, Josia Trenham (Josiah Trenham) from riverside, California, founder and Director of Patristic Nectar Publications and tireless activist and a fighter against what he calls the “ideology of LGBT”, which implies acceptance of same-sex marriage. Is he talking to the portly blond guy from Washington. This is Brian brown (Brian Brown), the head of the National organization of marriage, the father of eight children, soon, pending replenishment of the family. His organization has been fighting against the legislation in the sphere of civil marriage in Bermuda.
It’s already time travel of a different kind, but at that time I still didn’t realize it. I’m here on the conditions of the Treaty of the experiment on the assessment of broadmindedness. I am a representative of sexual orientation, a Jew who hold anti-Putin views, and also the opponent of the institution of marriage. I emigrated from Russia to the United States twice, first to avoid Soviet anti-Semitism, and then to escape from the Kremlin’s policies against gays. Adhering to right-wing defenders of family values cited my name as an example of the enemy, and such, who personally aimed to destroy the natural family.
May 2016. Almost no one has ever heard of the expression “the right alternative”, and few believe that Donald trump could be a presidential candidate from the Republican party to win the election, to appoint homophobes, racists, anti-government activists to positions in the Cabinet. At this meeting, from the West comes the bad news: I’m sitting next to Allan Carlson (Allan Carlson), the founder of world Congress of families, he sympathizes with the British ultra-conservative Semi dymondo (Paul Diamond) in his assessment of advancing the rights of transgender people in America and the UK. Invited Americans, British, Europeans are the people living under siege. They arrived in Georgia to take the soul.
But Russians, Georgians, poles radiate confidence. Poland has successfully conducted a law limiting abortions and banned the word “gender” in schools, but Russia and Georgia both win in their fight against members of the homosexual minority. Levan Vasadze, a wealthy Georgian businessman, who brought this year’s Congress in Tbilisi, was formerly a Rugby player. Alexey Komov, a Russian, representing the world Congress in the UN, looks so lewena might look like only a person with money.
Com — the first who recognized me. “Well, Hello,” — he welcomed me in Russian, his voice poonamallee-polarstate. He’s not happy to see me.
A few minutes later arrives his Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi, Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazeti Ilia II, in a word, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, has a flock of 3 million people. Concert hall, Packed to the participants of the Congress, which was attended, including more than a thousand residents of Georgia, be silent, when the Patriarch gave his welcome speech. “The family is the cornerstone of the prosperity of the state, its forces,” he says, leaning his slender body on a thick stick with a gold knob. Five minutes later he finishes his speech and leaves the concert hall, like most of the locals.
Larry Jacobs (Larry Jacobs), managing Director of world Congress of families, delivers his speech after Elijah. He spent two hours running around behind the scenes, and it catches the eye. His baggy double-breasted jacket unbuttoned, a red shirt a boxy, poorly dressed, and tie a few more dark shade of red, hanging lower than they should. He recalls the words of G. K. Chesterton on the family: “the Only place where good people can carry a bad government”. It Jacobs took the controversial decision to let me into Congress, and even bestowing a badge “VIP”. Here there are correspondents from Russian television, local, Georgian journalists, American bloggers from the right alternative, but I am a representative of the ruling Western liberal establishment, and I can say that Jacobs flattered by my interest. There is something definitely pleasant courtesy with which he opens in front of me this meeting. As if the war is over, and we learn to live side by side with each other.
A few hours later I go to lush a dinner hosted for about a hundred VIP guests located at the top of the mountain restaurant where we ate the Soviet nomenklatura. Drinks are served on the terrace with endless views of the city and mountains, dinner — traditional Georgian meal of seven courses. Jacobs pleaded with Russian guests to talk to me, but they ignore it. Alan Carlson (Alan Carlson) invites me to join him and his wife at their table.
Carlson 67 years, is an elegant man with a mustache with a short-cut gray hair. He wears tweed jackets and trousers of free cut, and his whole appearance is a cross between the two hypostases of his life — teacher and farmer from the Midwest. Carlson spent most of her professional life in education in higher education from the right wing, working in think tanks and teaching in a very conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan.
In the early 1990-ies two of the sociologist from Moscow State University contacted Carlson and asked him to give a lecture. At that time Russian scientists sought to resurrect the social Sciences, the area, destroyed over 70 years of censorship, purges and links. Many focused on Western academics, who turned to the writings of exiled Russian intellectuals. Research Carlson was partly based on the works of Pitirim Sorokin, exiled from Russia at the personal order of Lenin and the founder of the faculty of sociology at Harvard. His many writings included the warning about the movement of Western civilization to be dissolved, and Carlson was in tune with these dire predictions.
In 1995, Carlson has accepted the offer of sociologists and went to Moscow. At that time Eastern Europe was the midst of a demographic panic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, some national States or having, or having again, and realized how small they are. In addition, many, including Russia itself, there was a decrease in the number of their population; Carlson and inviting Russian scientists were convinced that the root of the problem lies in the disintegration of the natural family. The world Congress of families was established for the salvation of this institution. Carlson himself did not expect such a success of the new enterprise: the first Congress held in Prague in 1997, was attended by 700 people.
Over the next 15 years, the world Congress of families existed for the sake of every few years to collect a conference. A small staff based in Illinois, organized meetings in Geneva, Madrid and Warsaw. However, despite the fact that each meeting was attended by more activists, ultra-conservatives, the worst fears were justified Carlson: most Western European countries have recognized same-sex marriages. In Eastern Europe, was the case too not the iridescent. Even in conservative Poland, the country with the overwhelming number of Catholics, as a member of the EU, has enacted laws against discrimination members of the LGBT community and gave permission for the annual gay pride parade in Warsaw.
The world Congress of families, was widely known in America through Russia. In 2012, Vladimir Putin, who until that time did not seem too worried about his personal life in the Russian regions spoke about “traditional values”. In 2013, Russia passed a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”, and the next year on the adoption of children by same-sex couples. One after another began to appear organizations dealing with protection of traditional values with names such as “Sanctity of motherhood”, “Family policy”, etc. are Regular participants of the world Congress of families was invited to speak in the Russian Parliament.
When Russian organizations like the parrot began to repeat the rhetoric of the Congress, has the impression that American ultra-conservatives, playing a battle in the country, successfully conducted their conversation in Russia. Shortly thereafter, the human rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the world Congress of families as a xenophobic organization.
In reality, the world Congress of families and its Russian partners were not associated mentoring and mutually beneficial relationship. A vague idea of the Kremlin about “traditional values” were integrated with the us; the Russian campaign against gay gives the weight of the organization in the eyes of the world. Although the Alliance did not go so smoothly. In 2014, the Congress of the Congress was to be held in Moscow, in the Kremlin Palace of congresses. At this time Russia invaded Ukraine, and the United States and EU responded by imposing on it sanctions. The world Congress of families conference was canceled, apparently not wanting to be associated with this conflict. Instead of the planned was quickly organized another Congress. As he passed under the guise of local Russian initiatives like the international forum “Large family and future of humanity”. To him were brought all the same the world Congress of families said their all the same speech.
I imagined the Congress as a mirror reflection of the conference of the LGBT community, which attracts hundreds of activists from around the world, hosts a panel discussion that endless stretch until every man tells about his experience of struggle, in vain seeming of all unique. Congress of the world Congress of families was arranged differently. First, it was an event of much lesser magnitude. The impression that many local visitors were employees Vasadze, that is, teachers and psychologists working in Christian Sunday school. The other visitors were foreigners, which from year to year we go to Congress Congress. Their performances, in General, are not reports on their work. Instead, they say the ideas and slogans, which describe the essence of the issue and calls for struggle. A number of speakers warn of the impending “demographic winter”. “If things continue people will cease to exist,” says don Feder (Don Feder), a former Boston journalist, now working for the Congress. “The birth rate worldwide has fallen by more than 50% in less than 50 years,” he says. “The birth rate will fall with each generation, permanently aggravating the demographic situation”.
I think it sounds ridiculous, because humanity is far from its death; the other, the speaker shows slides, reflecting population growth, despite the fact that in developed countries the birth rate below the replacement level of the population. I understand that for those present at the conference, my words will sound the same as the ideas of the opponents of climate change — for me; I declare that it seems “obvious” that scientific data are distorted. But to me it is clear something else: the idea that the humanity waits for death, fueled by panic and racist fears.
The differences are obvious even in the language used by the inhabitants of West and East Europe: the last talk openly about race and use such epithets as “perverts”, while the first use of the word “LGBT”. One delegate even apologized to me for uttered on the stage the word “perverts.” When the participants from Western countries want to say “white people”, they just say “people.”
The best speech at the conference said a resident of Eastern Europe: Vasadze. He told the story of a teenager who connected high hopes with the future and was in love with the West when one seemed inextricably linked with another. The Soviet Empire collapsed, he concluded that this will be followed by glory, happiness and justice. He came to the United States the MBA program at Emory University. But eventually his dream of a glorious future on the Western model were dispelled.
“Our ancient country,” he says, “it explodes again in the battle of the superpowers”. He listed in detail what happened with Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union: the civil war, the revolution, the invasion of Russia, economically libertarian government that unleashed police lawlessness. “You want me to tell about the situation of the family in Georgia?” — he asks. “I just did! It did not escape any family”.
Now Georgia has a new government, but it has been hijacked from the West, which is trying to spread its destructive values, says Vasadze. Georgia, he says, was forced to approve anti-discrimination legislation and the introduction in schools “programs of sex education based on gender theory.” Here also reformed the juvenile justice system to give the state the right to take the children from their families. The state pays for a caesarean section, forcing hospitals to conduct too many of these operations. Vasadze claims (it isn’t) that these operations adversely affect the future fertility of a woman.
“Instead of freedom, which we were expecting from the West, we got jail, lawlessness, perversion and injustice,” he says. In conclusion, he appealed directly to Western liberals: “We admire your short-lived 200 years of success, he says. — Believe me, you lame, when you think you can teach us morality”.
It Vasadze goes beyond the widely accepted rhetoric linking the post-Soviet disorder with poverty, social and economic instability and a General feeling of loss of orientation. Vasadze was never poor, does not suffer from instability or from loss of orientation. His story is another cry of the soul: it is connected to what we call freedom, and without which its appearance cannot with dignity. Hannah Arendt describes the life under totalitarianism as the existence in which the space between people disappears, and the society turns into something unintelligible. The people of the Soviet Union won the space to breathe, to speak, to read, to have sex, but this space has always been borrowed and are constantly shrinking.
People get rules of existence from the state, which in turn received instructions from Moscow. Now, said Vasadze, the rules dictate the state receiving the prescriptions of the West. The Soviet experience has taught people to distrust, above all, against the state, and especially when it interferes with their tiny, hard won by the blood space. Vasadze, like other speakers from this region of the world does not forget about services for the protection of children as a terrible threat, like “the homosexual lobby” because they take away children from families without any reason. According to the Western standards of child protection services are too often passive and indifferent, but obviously the fear of people that any government official can come to your house. I know this first hand: my family and I gathered my things and left Russia as soon as the government hinted that it may take my children due to the fact that I’m homosexual.
Complaints Vasadze that the West deprives Georgians of their liberty and dignity, a couple of hundred attendees from Western countries in the audience applauds, applauding standing. They are representatives of traditional values in the West, they are in agreement with the receiving party in opposition to the liberal future. It also seems that political correctness does not allow them to speak, because of her they lost their national pride. They called this phenomenon the sociologist Arlie, Hochshild (Arlie Hochschild) “strangers in their own land”. In may 2016, they, unlike Vasadze, live in countries where they are shamed for expressing their grief. So they mourn with Vasadze here in Tbilisi.
Com, an incredible Russian, representing the Congress, the UN, delivers a speech on “the Global elite, neo-Marxism and gender ideology”, where he argues that the notion of LGBT rights is a consequence of the Bolshevik conspiracy. In 1917, he says, the Russian revolution changed world history, dekriminalizirovat sodomy and introducing the concept of free love. Marx opposed the family, and then the Bolsheviks began to persecute the Church. Russia came a little to himself, expelled Leon Trotsky and other radicals, founded the Frankfurt school in the West, joining their godless view of sexual ideas of Freud. Together they decided to conquer the world, turning the elite in the “cultural Marxists” that use Hollywood and TV to spread their ideas.
Com is fluent in English because, being a graduate, lived for some time in new York and received an MBA from a British correspondence University Open University. It represents the historical rhetoric is a mixture of disinformation, fabrications and revisionism. The Bolsheviks, in fact, very quickly tired of free love and never legalized sodomy. They abolished the Imperial laws only to soon to recover them. There is no evidence that members of the Frankfurt school has attached great importance to the writings of Trotsky. However, the com shares his generalizing version of the story to Western audiences.
“The hope is still alive,” he says. “There is a magical revival”. He says that in the countries of the former Soviet Union were re-opened or rebuilt 30 thousand churches. Now the West is under threat of a new totalitarianism, and the Eastern bloc countries must meet the favor and help to release them.
In may 2016 it is seriously spoken description of the Communist-pink-Jewish conspiracy sounds like a safe crazy. I can’t imagine that conspiracy theory and falsified news will soon dominate the political debate in America. I can’t imagine that the two presidential candidates will enter into the TV squabble about who of them is the Kremlin’s puppet.
The second day of the Congress falls on 17 may, the day his Holiness announced a Day of family bonds and honor their parents. At the hotel where that day meetings were held, begin the demonstration, which takes place on the streets of Tbilisi. We stand a while in the guise of a world Congress of families. Day dull, tedious, hot. Then the alarm sounds, I couldn’t see, and we begin to go. And then I begin to understand how this happens. Suddenly, everywhere are people in front of me Teens in sweatpants, my right — women in headscarves, to the left, men in business suits. This procession is at once a marsh, and the race, the crowd smells of perfume, sweat and poverty. Slanderous slogans, there is a purpose, the sun is shining. If you wish, I could feel at the same time this March.
Vasadze is headed by the Congress, and on the way I ask him about the term that many times there were about totalitarianism. One defender of family values has defined it as “a complete rejection of religion and religious thinking.” Another speaker quoted the definition of totalitarian ideology Arendt, calling it contrary to logic, and stated that “the EU imposes everywhere the ideology of LGBT, which includes consumerism and gay rights”. Really, I ask Vasadze. Homosexual totalitarianism?
“Is it so hard to imagine that people with certain ideas you want to achieve world domination?”, — responsible Vasadze. No, it is easy to imagine, it happens all the time.
Vasadze is a superhero in the sphere of protection of family values in Georgia. Not only is he one of the richest men in the country, he funds a private school and the Rugby team and as it seems, almost the whole organization of the Congress. Most of the residents of Georgia, however, until 17 may 2013 nothing about him knew.
17 may — international day against homophobia, established in the memory of how in 1990 the world health organization struck homosexuality from the list diseases. In some countries, the Day against homophobia is a more modest variation of the action Gay pride. In Georgia reacted to this day, carefully, in 2011, several people gathered together, which launched on the river candle. In 2012, the event attracted a longer amount of activists who were assaulted. In 2013, they were attacked by a group which was superior to the forces of the police. In search of shelter one group of protesters ran into a police bus, the police took them outside the city and brought back one at a time. Another group was trapped in a yellow van. The group attacked the bus, smashing Windows in it and hurting those who it was before in case the police intervened. “It was the biggest shock of my life,” recalls Magda Kalandadze, a 30-year-old LGBT activist. “I saw ten thousand people who wanted to kill me”.
When the massacre finally ended, the attackers staged a huge celebration in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. It was then that Vasadze became a public figure, all of a sudden it was everywhere: next to the Patriarch and on television, he announced new initiatives, including the establishment of the Fund for demographic revival, which struggle with the reduction of the population. For the activists of the LGBT community, he embodies the attack 2013. Speaking on may 17, he describes it as the day when the Georgians seized by agents of the Western “totalitarian dictatorship of liberalism”. Remembering that day on the stage, he said: “fortunately, nobody was killed.”
The world Congress of families claims that does not accept violence, but the rhetoric in Tbilisi assumes some discrepancies in regards to murder. Pronouncing his speech, the father of Josie quotes the sacred texts of Islam: “Kill the one who does it and who he does it.” It’s not quite a call to action: it only makes the (questionable) assertion that sacred texts of all the Abrahamic religions and Buddhism contain prohibitions on homosexuality. But people applauded. They are few, but judging by the sound of them more than 20 and less than 100.
Igor Beloborodov, red-bearded Russian sociologist, is near the Georgian, dressed in a black suit. I hear them talking from the very beginning, but it is clear that they are talking about gays celebrating in all countries of the world international day against homophobia.
“This is banned in Russia,” Beloborodov brags.
“They just fined? 20 thousand?”
“So much with one person?”
“A foreigner can be deported?”
“Not “can”, and deported. If you don’t blame something else. Else go to jail”.
In fact, the most noticeable consequence of the Russian ban on “gay propaganda” was not pravoprimenenie (although there were imposed a number of fines and at least one group of activists had indeed been arrested), and a catastrophic increase in violence against gays. Georgian-source Beloborodova was clearly impressed.
We go under the scorching sun, first one street, then another, then go on the steep climb along the Weeping rock, as it is called by the Georgians due to the fact that it is constantly oozing water. “She’s crying because of our sins,” — said Vasadze. After three miles, the marchers reach the peak of the mountain, and in sight of a huge, gorgeous, almost fluorescent bright turquoise on a black background, a poster advertising a concert by British pop singer Robbie Williams.
We are turning the corner and pass another ten minutes to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, where he holds the service of the Patriarch. By the end of March at least one person, an elderly American woman, became ill due to heat stroke.
I leave the marsh and go to the other end of town to the courthouse, to which should stand ten activists. They were detained at four o’clock in the morning for trying to apply with a stencil inscription is EQUIVALENT to LOVE, and DOWN with HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA in several places of the city, including on the fence near the Patriarchate. These are the tactics of the LGBT community in Georgia now, when it was underground.
The activists were released after a few hours of detention, their hearings were postponed, and they join the group, waiting for them in front of the courthouse. Talking to me, they’re still trying to figure out what happened to them: a few years ago they were talking about slowly started living on the Western model of the state, and now turned into outcasts in their hometown. They all leave, says Catherine Agdgomelashvili, who, at 47, is the head of the local movement. Young homosexuals, especially activists emigrate. “I understand that, she says. — They have a whole life ahead”.
I moved as many of my friends. This decision welcomes and Beloborodov: “it is Obvious that homosexuals are much more convenient to live in the Netherlands and Germany”, — he told in interview to one Russian website in 2014. “So we just need to export them EN masse in there.”
The problem with emigration is that it concerns real people living their real lives: they have a home, friends, parents, brothers, sisters, career, the Georgian mountains or Russian forest, or a Polish lake, from which they may not want to leave. “What are we?” — asks Agdgomelashvili. “We are not a political force. We’re just a stone that, they each other throw”. Yet will not throw us over the fence.
In may 2016 it self saddens me, because we are discussing the attachment to the house, the desire to remain in his home area in the world, however hostile it may be. And only a few months later, I can think of that we might have said that in the world there is no place where we felt safe.
Backstage of the concert hall I interview Brian brown, head of the National organization of marriage. I asked him about the mention of father Josia postulate of Islam in which it was assumed that people may want to kill me. “Father, Josia wouldn’t hurt a fly!”, — he tells me. Brown was raised in a Quaker community and had converted to Catholicism while he was still a master at Oxford, then he became a full-time activist. He hates it when they put him on a shelf with the aggressive thugs and detractors, so he tries by all means to Express not only the ideological component, but also to talk about weaknesses.
“We are poor, we have little strength,” he says. Brown’s favorite example is a group for the protection of the rights of the LGBT community Human Rights Campaign, whose staff consists of 45 people against the four at the world Congress of families. In 2013, the Human Rights Campaign announced their withdrawal at the international level. Brown sees this as a sign of the activities of the powerful gay lobby. At the moment this international work has been in numerous conferences, sending four people to the forum in Davos to participate in one panel discussion in 2014 (I was one of those four) and the publication of a report entitled, “revelation: the world Congress of families an American organization exporting hate.” I was ready to tell brown that the natural family at the global level should not fear the activists of the Human Rights Campaign.
At the moment I perceive myself as a journalist interviewing a marginal political activist for the popular American magazine. At that moment I think I have the power. But after a few weeks brown will be the President of the world Congress of families, and in November he will enjoy the victory of Donald trump and starts to stalk him on Twitter, demanding that he opposed same-sex marriage. In may 2016, Russia is responsible for international discussion, com is representative of the world Congress of families to the UN. We will soon see how easy it can change the balance of power. One of the first elected President will appoint a permanent representative to the UN, they will become the Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley (Nikki Haley), which has no international experience, but took part in the fight against the defenders of LGBT rights and reproductive rights. If she takes this position, years of hard work on protection of LGBT rights at the UN will go to pieces, and Russia will not have to take any extra effort.
But in may of 2016, I ask the brown’s theoretical and somewhat condescending question to conclude our interview, behind the scenes: “are There, in Your opinion, the conditions that would allow us to coexist in one society?” I tell him he can waive the right to marriage, I in any case apply to this issue is ambiguous. But I have children and I will not let anyone take them from me. In a sign that I have a really open-minded, I’ll even accept humiliation in public restrooms, as it was in the past 35 years.
“If we can agree — I ask — are there any conditions in which Your and my family can live peacefully in one society?”
“Don’t know”. Brown smiles, I think, because of the awkwardness, and presses a hand on my knee, which jerks for ten minutes. “No.”