AP PHOTOS: Gays in Sochi find refuge in cabaret

|
Photo - In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, performers get ready backstage before a performance at the Mayak cabaret, the most reputable gay club in Sochi, Russia, host to 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia adopted a law last year, prohibiting vaguely defined propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations and pedophilia. The legislation makes it illegal to disseminate information to children even if it merely shows that gay people are just like everybody else. At Mayak, packed on Saturday night, gay men and women steered away from discussing the law, preferring to enjoy life, closeted as it is. About a hundred people were chatting at the bar, sitting in armchairs or dancing. Couples were sharing kisses. Everyone was waiting for the club's specialty: a drag show. At 1.30 a.m. on Sunday, the music stopped and the show began. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, performers get ready backstage before a performance at the Mayak cabaret, the most reputable gay club in Sochi, Russia, host to 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia adopted a law last year, prohibiting vaguely defined propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations and pedophilia. The legislation makes it illegal to disseminate information to children even if it merely shows that gay people are just like everybody else. At Mayak, packed on Saturday night, gay men and women steered away from discussing the law, preferring to enjoy life, closeted as it is. About a hundred people were chatting at the bar, sitting in armchairs or dancing. Couples were sharing kisses. Everyone was waiting for the club's specialty: a drag show. At 1.30 a.m. on Sunday, the music stopped and the show began. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
News,World,Russia,Gay rights,Sochi

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — It's Saturday night at Mayak cabaret and the nightclub is packed. But gay men and women are reluctant to discuss a law Russia adopted last year that prohibits vaguely defined propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations and pedophilia.

Mayak is one of the few safe places for gays in the Olympic host city to meet. They prefer to enjoy life, closeted as it is.

About a hundred people were chatting at the bar, sitting in armchairs or dancing. Couples were sharing kisses. Everyone was waiting for the club's specialty: a drag show.

Russian authorities insist that the law is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences. Activists, however, insist that the law is fostering homophobia in Russia.

World leaders and journalists have confronted President Vladimir Putin with questions about gay discrimination in Russia. Putin has been equating homosexuality with pedophilia even though he has assured gays that they will be welcome in Sochi, but only if they "leave the kids alone."

Here is a photo gallery of the scene inside Mayak:

__

Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu

View article comments Leave a comment