Russian adaptation of ‘Drag Race’ ignores LGBT issues, activists say


A new Russian drag contest has sparked controversy among the country’s LGBT community, with activists saying the YouTube show ignores the issues LGBT people face in Russia.

Nastya Ivleeva, a popular blogger with millions of Instagram and YouTube subscribers, last week started “Royal Cobras”, a drag contest that looks like the hit American series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” but is separate from the franchise.

“Royal Cobras”
Nastya Ivleeva / YouTube

Activists say Ivleeva’s show glosses over the harsh reality that Russia’s LGBT community lives in by mimicking the American glamor of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on a surface level without giving contestants an opportunity to discuss. their experiences and their struggles.

“For me, this show has nothing to do with the LGBT agenda in Russia, because nowhere in the ‘Royal Cobras’ did it say that this show was about LGBT people,” Nikita Andriyanov, activist and founder of Russian LGBT history. Tetki project, told the Moscow Times.

The Russian LGBT community also accused Ivleeva of undermining the political significance of drag culture by making herself, a heterosexual woman, the main focus of the show. As six drag queens perform in the show’s opening number, Ivleeva descends from the ceiling in a sparkling outfit and takes center stage.

“The media say that Nastya Ivleeva has worked with drag artists for a long time. Nonetheless, I don’t think she should become the center of attention, ”LGBT blogger Nikita Privet said in a commentary. maintenance with Le Village.

The show’s judges, who were each invited by Ivleeva, are mostly other non-LGBT celebrities such as Alexander Gudkov and Ksenia Sobchak.

However, creating a show with LGBT performers in a country where socially conservative attitudes are prevalent comes with challenges.

"King Cobras" Nastya Ivleeva / YouTube

“Royal Cobras”
Nastya Ivleeva / YouTube

Critics of Russia’s 2013 ban on “gay propaganda” say the law is used to silence LGBT voices, and last year’s constitutional amendments contain a clause defining marriage as a union between one. man and woman.

Complaints have already been deposit with Russia’s communications watchdog and the Attorney General’s office on possible “propaganda of non-traditional values” depicted in the show.

The first episode of “Royal Cobras” opens with a warning that the series “is not intended to form non-traditional sexual attitudes”.

Andriyanov said he believed the wording of the disclaimer “demeaned human dignity”.

“The main problem is the silence – hence the feeling that LGBT people never existed and that this is all ‘show business’,” he said.

The bright side of Ivleeva’s show, he said, is that it can introduce drag into the Russian mainstream and potentially lead to greater LGBT awareness.

“The only thing this show can do for the community is drag queens can get their moment of glory and possibly gain more followers on Instagram,” said Andriyanov.


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