NEW YORK — Porn magnate and gay rights activist Michael Lucas has released a trailer for his upcoming documentary "Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda," decrying the unfair treatment of homosexuals in his native country.
The Russia-born founder of Lucas Entertainment believes that the Olympic games have been a great springboard for civil rights concerns behind the former iron curtain, but doesn’t want to see the conversation end when the event-related hype dies down.
"I want to bring attention to what is happening in Russia and I want the conversation to last longer than the span of the [Sochi] Olympics," Lucas told the Huffington Post. "There was a lot of attention prior to the games, and that attention must continue. The world has seen bits and pieces, but we don't have the full picture of what the LGBT community in Russia is like, and what it is going through."
Last year saw the passing of several laws in Russia that many conceived as a blatant “war” on homosexuality, including the much-discussed ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors."
Since then, the media has honed in on Russian citizens’ increased pressure to stay in the closet for fear of brutality at the hands of the state and the public at large.
Lucas says, "I think it would be nearly impossible for me to make this film now."
“Campaign of Hate” features several members of the LGBT community in Russia speaking out about their experiences living in Putin’s Russia. It also takes a look at the systemic homophobia espoused by regular folks and politicians alike, including Vitaly Milonov, a member of the legislative assembly of Saint Petersburg.
"It wasn't easy to get [Milonov] to sit down with me for an interview. I had to lie that I was an independent journalist from American TV; he was not about to give an interview to a gay man working on a film like mine," Lucas said. "It was also a real challenge for me not to leap up and strangle him during our conversation. I am not someone who keeps quiet easily, and he was spewing such vile, homophobic lies that my hands were shaking."
All the men interviewed in the three-plus minute trailer agree that, being gay in Russia, it is impossible to avoid discrimination.
"Obviously, you can't even talk about it," one interviewee says. "Holding hands or kissing on the street ... That's just completely unacceptable in this country." Many others discussed experiencing violence, shame and fear.
Lucas was born in Moscow, but fled at the age of 20 to Germany, where he began his adult career. He made headlines in 2012 when he released his first documentary about the LGBT community in Israel.
To check out the trailer for “Campaign of Hate: Russian and Gay Propaganda” on YouTube, click here.
The film, distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures, is set to release on DVD in April and on VOD in early May.