“Campaign of Hate” Exposes Russia’s Drift Towards Homophobia

As most of the world moves towards gay equality, there’s a handful of countries that seem to be moving the opposite direction. Of these countries, perhaps the only one among them that truly qualifies as a “world power” is Russia, a country that became even more known for the issue during the recent Sochi Olympics. As recently as last year, Russia passed significant legislation outlawing gay propaganda.

What is gay propaganda?

In Russia, it’s just about any public discussion, protest, expression of pride, or to use the terminology most familiar to America’s LGBT community, any true sense of being “out.”

With a goal of educating about the campaign of hate dominating Russia, writer/director Michael Lucas has crafted this informative and well constructed 78-minute feature documentary that arrives on home video with QC Cinema, the LGBT distribution arm of indie distributor Breaking Glass Pictures. While the film does make a point of noting that, at times, there’s a bit more of a relaxed feeling amidst the bigger cities such as Moscow, Lucas doesn’t hold back when it comes to the extremes to which the Russian government and its people have embraced the treating of homosexuality as both a sickness and a crime. Lucas, a gay porn filmmaker originally from Russia, points out in “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” that pride parades are illegal for the next 100 years and adoption, which used to flow freely between the U.S. and Russia, is now outlawed to any nation that legalizes gay marriage.

For those familiar with gay rights, it’s already common knowledge that being gay in Russia can be hazardous to your health as both police and regular citizens harass and embrace violence towards the LGBT community, especially if they dare make any sort of public statement.

While “Campaign of Hate” doesn’t necessarily break a lot of new ground on the subject, it definitely does a nice job of personalizing it with Lucas not only adding his own personality to the film but also interviewing a number of Russians who speak freely about what it is like living in a nation where you are programmed at an early age to reject yourself if you happen to be gay.

“Campaign of Hate” will be shown at Frameline 38 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Voctoria Theatre Sunday, June 22 at 1:15 p.m.