We initially ran this list in 2013 after the Russian government passed a series of anti-gay laws. Gay life in Russia is a struggle. Russian skinheads routinely hang around outside gay clubs to harass and beat patrons, there are cultural pressures to be straight, and now the Kremlin has made life even more difficult through anti-gay laws. Yet, the Russian people themselves remain obsessed with their gay Russian pop stars. They chase and cherish them from the Volga to Vladislovstok. Of course, most refuse to believe they are actually gay and simply dismiss them as “flamboyant” or “creative”. Even the initial publishing of this list set off a round of arguments with Russian friends about who-is and who-is-not gay.
The Gayest Russian Music Videos You’ll Ever See
Phillip Kurkorov – Hava Nagila
This Jewish (mother) Armenian (father) boy from Bulgaria has made it big in Mother Russia. He is considered the flamboyant “bad boy” of Russian pop, often striking up hissy fits with assistants and with journalist (famously telling one in an interview “I’m bored of your pink blouse, your tits, and your microphone.”). He insists that HE IS NOT GAY. If he’s not, the confusion could be due to his years of plastic surgery that has left him with a rather comical look.
Sergey Sverez – Mirage
Sergey Sverez is Russia’s answer to Tim Gunn, Tyra, Lady Gaga, and Kim Kardashian all rolled into one. He was a famous television stylist and hairdresser before embarking on a pop career. His biography states that his talent for fashion first showed as a Soviet soldier, where he took his sewing machine and altered his military uniform to make it look just a bit more stylish. With songs like “Dolce & Gabana,” Sverez is one of Russia’s biggest stars.
Verka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tambai
The drag queen Verka Serduchka is one of Ukraine’s biggest pop stars, finishing Eurovision 2007 in second place with “Dancing Lasha Tambai”. Ethnically Russian, Serduchka has made it big in both countries. However, much of Russia grew upset with him during Eurovision 2007 as they believed “Lasha Tambai” sounded like Serduchka was singing “Goodbye Russia!” while the singer insisted it was Mongolian for “milkshake” or “whipped cream.” Serduchka later admitted that it was just gibberish that he made up. In 2015, Serduchka appeared in the Melissa McCarthy movie Spy.
Ruki Vverh – He Kisses You
There might not be a bigger ectro pop duo in Russia than Ruki Vverh (Hands Up), and in 2002 they released He Kisses You. The video features a couple frolicking about the city, all cut with one of the couple in a dressing room donning make-up and dressing in woman’s clothes.
Sergey Penkin – I Loved You Once
Sergey Penkin is to Russian grandparents as Liberace is to American grandparents. Ultra flamboyant, Russians just cannot fathom that he is anything other than a woman-crazy heterosexual man.
Via Gra – Crazy
Let’s start with the fact that the name of this girl group is Via Gra (pronounced “Viagra”). Due to copywrite issues, the group is promoted as Nu Virgos outside of Russian speaking countries. Very much the Destiny’s Child of Russia, the girls in the group come-and-go, but their popularity remains steady. Their video for “Crazy” features both drag kings and sapphic love.
Boris Moiseev – Little Star
Russia LOVES Boris Moiseev, one of the few truly openly gay megastars there. And, why wouldn’t they? His life is that of a diva. Born in prison to a poor mother, this Jewish Russian became a renowned pop singer and ballet dancer at a young age only to have a second career as an even larger pop singer and television host in his 60’s.
Dima Bilan – Choking
While this video isn’t explicitly gay, Bilan spents a lot of time shirtless and handling his rifle. He won the 2008 Eurovision contest and when he was “outed” by another celebrity on air last year, it caused the female host to cry and proclaim “you’re breaking my heart!” As with most Russian gay celebrities, Bilan has been coy about his sexuality. Yet, he did sign a letter earlier this year protesting the horrible new anti-gay law before it was passed.
t.A.T.u – Not Gonna Get Us
Two lesbians driving a giant phallic dildo through virginal snow. Yes, although it was later revealed that t.A.T.u weren’t actually lesbians, that’s not what Russians thought at the time. Even the Duma Deputy partially responsible for passing the anti-gay laws – the assumed closeted politician Aleksey Mitrofanov – wrote t.A.T.u. lesbian fan fiction that became a best-selling book and which was made into a popular movie.
This soft-butch is one of Russia’s biggest rock stars. Although she has never said that she is gay, she has never denied it either. Fishnets, black high heels, and masculine features…our bodies are ready for you Zemfira.
Russian Airborne Troops – No Title
Yes, the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) have produced their own music video. Guys…it features tumbling, and air kicks! THEN, they sing about peace rainbows their outfits – blue-and-white tank tops and seafoam berets. WE ARE NOT MAKING THIS UP. And while we have a bit of trouble with this particular translation, the subtitles here are pretty spot on.
Azis – Hop
Oh, Azis. Yes, he is not Russian but they know who he is in Mother Russia for sure and we had to include him. A Roma from Bulgaria, here Azis is in his music video for “Hop”. While the music video pokes fun of Russia (the barrel in the Russian bathhouse reads “Russia”) the lyrics are something else. “Hop, it penetrates little by little. Hop, move slowly and slowly. Hop, it’s the moment for you to put in. The rhythm of the love!”