Standing on a rooftop ledge in nothing more than my underwear, the wind freezing my bones to their very core and the snow forming a second skin on my bare flesh; I looked up at the Heavens and screamed at the Gods. Out of nowhere, the Dreamgirls started blasting in my eardrums that all you had to do is dream and that they would always be there. I jumped.
I bruised my knees on my bedroom floor. I opened my eyes. I looked out of the window. The snow was falling; I was still in Moscow. 6 months of walking my head, hang in shame, my spirit hidden away, the proud fag that I once was had become a shadow of himself. Gloria said that she would survive; I could no more. I did not want to end up as one of the many corpses lying on the street of the so called democratic capital of the former USSR. (You think I’m joking, don’t you? I’m not).
Bags were packed, tickets were booked and Russia was fled.
On the plane, I thought of how lucky I was to be able to escape a land where love was discriminatory.
I remembered fondly the snogging session on the back of an illegal cab, not realising that the Mafiosi driver could have shot us both in the head. Elevated by booze and having finally pulled, I had taken unnecessary risks. We had even held hands in the street. Looking back, I was surprised that nothing terrible had happened (apart from him being lousy in bed) and thanked God that I was 6 foot 4 with squared shoulders. Suddenly, I paused my thoughts and rewound. How did I get there? High amidst the clouds it was so easy to be proud. Yet when faced with the reality of being an outcast and possible jail sentencing, I hide. Peter Tatchell himself got bit up by the Orthodox and Skin Heads when he tried to march on the Red Square but what matters is that he tried; that he stood up for all of us. What did I do? I fled. I felt ashamed that I did not wear my pink triangle proudly.
I landed. The weight on my shoulder lifted instantly when the wheels of the plane touched the ground. The airport alone was like one of the many fantasies I secretly daydreamed when packed in the Russian underground: Couples holding hands doing their duty-free shopping of cheap DKNY shirts and D&G underpants, bears chatting up twinks while waiting to board their planes, suntanned gods and gays as far as the eye could see. I was once again surrounded by my kind. Would the land of the Spaniards be all that it promised to be? I did not wait, with my backpack still on my shoulders, I went straight to Chueca and when seeing all the rainbow flags proudly hanging from windows, I started to laugh hysterically.
I was home.
Would this ghetto be any better than Soho or Chelsea? Or would it be, yet once again, just a couple of streets where the “freaks” could run free well hidden from the real world?
To revisit the Russian Era, check out: GULAg – The tale before Fairy Tales