Meeting the member of a growing movement that is finally uniting homosexuality and Hitler.
An image from the Gay Aryan Skinheads (G.A.S.H) VK page.
A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed someone from the Malaysian neo-Nazi scene. The whole concept of Malay neo-Nazis was confusing, because a pretty dominant part of the Nazi shtick was hating anyone who wasn't white, and people from Malaysia normally aren't white. However, it turned out that the notoriously strict Nazi ideology wasn't too much of an issue in this case, and that the Malay Nazis could carry on sieg-heiling and wearing swastikas despite the fact they aren't Aryan because they really hate immigrants, or something.
Another group of neo-Nazis not bothering to adhere to Hitler's guidelines on who to hate are those involved in the Russian gay neo-Nazi skinhead movement. As you might recall from being within spitting distance of any history textbook ever, the Führer and his Third Reich buddies weren't too keen on either Russians or homosexuals – an estimated 100,000 of the latter were arrested between 1933 and 1945, with 5,000 to 15,000 eventually being sent to perish in concentration camps.
Much like the Malays, minor historical details like rampant persecution and horrific genocide have apparently been forgotten by the Russians. The first such group I came across were the Gay Union of Patriots of Russia, whose members spout bizarre theories about how only gay men can be true Russian patriots. I also learned that there was a group called Gay Aryan National-Socialists and another called G.A.S.H – "Gay Aryan Skinheads". That last one had the best ring to it, so I tracked down a member, Bely, on VK.com – a Facebook equivalent that's big in Russia – and had a chat about the gay Russian Nazi scene.
VICE: Hi Bely. Can you say a bit about the ideology behind G.A.S.H?
Bely: Our ideology consists of clearing the planet of "dirty" nationalities. We fight for purity of blood, for white skin colour and for strong and beautiful people. We don’t accept white guys or white girls who hook up with black men. It is disgusting to observe such interracial unions. Why share your life with such rejects when there are healthy white guys?
Because there are also healthy people from lots of different races. So, most people don’t equate Nazism with homosexuality. Why do you think this is?
I think it's based on a stereotype and, initially, heterosexuals prevailed in the nationalist movement. Also, public opinion calls nationalists rough barbarians, murderers and so on, so observers from outside probably think that the nationalist has to be a strong, fearless street fighter, and gays represent gentleness, kindness and harmlessness. In the public imagination, it doesn’t make sense that men who prefer the beautiful and glamorous side of life can fight for their rights and ideas.
How long has G.A.S.H existed for?
Our movement has existed for more than 20 years in Russia. It's relatively young, but quite well developed nevertheless. We're lagging behind other places in Europe and the States a bit, but we possess strong will power and fighting spirit for the sake of the white cause.
The logo of the Gay Aryan National-Socialists.
So there are similar movements in America and other European countries then?
Yes, of course there are. They suggested to us an idea that we had pined for for so long. They helped us to be defined and direct our activity to the necessary course.
Is G.A.S.H the only gay racist skinhead group in Russia that you have come across?
At present, it is the most widespread movement among gay Nazis. The fact is that the majority of gay skinheads don’t attach themselves to G.A.S.H but have the same purposes and method of asserting influence. They simply don’t focus people’s attention on them. We don’t like excessive attention to our subculture at all either. However we want it so that everyone knows who we are and what we fight for.
Are you linked to any other gay groups?
We cooperate with the normal gay community a little bit, yeah. Sometimes we despise them, though, because each of our actions yields a result, and the actions of normal gay communities in Russia only exacerbate the situation with regards to society, homophobes and gays.
So you consider the existence of G.A.S.H to be a positive thing for Russia? And for gay rights in Russia?
We don’t consider ourselves as heroes or particularly positive characters. We have severe methods, but they really work. We fight for everyone, not just for ourselves. We're trying to clear this world of unnecessary people who aren’t worthy of this earth.
Wow, OK. What's your opinion of homophobic Nazi skinheads?
Not all heterosexual nationalists are homophobes; they are often latent homosexuals, actually. We fight nationalist homophobes in the same way that we fight against any other homophobes. They're nothing special to us.
You get into fights with homophobic Nazi groups?
Yes, we fight against homophobes irrespective of the colour of their skin or their nationality. We don’t understand why our brothers oppose us. After all, we have nothing against heterosexuals and we have no plan to make the entire planet gay.
How many members does G.A.S.H have?
It's very hard to say the exact quantity. About one in 50 gays are nationalists or have tendencies towards this movement. In the group I'm in, there are about 1,500 to 1,700 other permanent members in Moscow or nearby areas. Then there are other communities of gay nationalists scattered all over Moscow – there's a G.A.S.H group in each area.
Does G.A.S.H have any lesbian members?
Sometimes lesbians reach out to us, but we explain to them that they don't have a place in our ranks.
What about transgender Nazi skinheads? Do they exist?
Transsexuals aren’t present among us and I don’t see that it's possible for them to be.
Why’s that then?
We believe that we're at war and that there's no place for women and men who consider themselves to be women. The fact that it's specifically a man’s fight is an integral part of our ideology.
You seem to place a strong emphasis on manliness. What's your view of less masculine gay people? Are they still accepted by your group?
This is a controversial question. I can’t give a definite answer, as all members are assessed as individuals. The person has to have certain qualities and believe in our idea. He has to understand that it might be necessary to give his life for an idea and for the community as a whole.
Okay, so what qualities are they on a sexuality level?
Our sexual life generally consists of BDSM, especially sadomasochism. Our brothers aren’t engaged in tenderness on silk sheets – we commit truly manly acts.
Yeah, you've said. Is BSDM closely linked to G.A.S.H’s ideology then?
Oh yes, they are as closely connected as smoke and fire. Almost all nationalists have a piercing, traditional leather skinhead jackboots and blue jeans, which became a sexual fetish for us long ago, as well as shaven heads. By our nature, sexual intercourse is rough. This is similar to primitive passion. Some of us have slaves, but they often aren’t nationalists. We treat sex as something sacred. This is similar to how believers treat God. Sex is a transmission of passion, emotions, pleasure and – last but not least – sperm into the body of a brother. We give part of each other. This is a very important part of our sexual life. From outside, it can seem as if we treat sex too thoughtlessly, but this isn't the case; each act of sexual intercourse between brothers bears a deeper meaning. It is a secret ceremony between the devoted.
How do you respond to people who say that homosexuality and Nazism aren’t exactly bedfellows?
Our sexual orientation isn't a barrier to being nationalists. The spirit of nationalism can be present in any of us irrespective of this. In Russia, the rights of gays are hugely restricted, and we can’t sit back quietly when a person is killed just because he's gay. Many people from the Caucasus [a region at the border of Europe and Asia] furiously oppose gays. Someone has to reject the pressure that they exert by real brute force.
Okay. Finally, how do you respond to people who say that Hitler wasn’t particularly fond of gay people?
At that time, very tough measures were in place, but they really worked and were bountiful. I don't think Hitler even personally wanted to gas gays, but the ideology demanded it.
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