Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

 


Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (1857-1905), one of the fabulously wealthy Romanovs, was notorious for his homosexual exploits. While serving as Governor of Moscow from 1891 to 1905, he proved  partial to young male flesh, often of the prostitute variety. However, being the younger brother of Tsar Alexander III and the uncle of Tsar Nicholas II (ousted by Lenin in 1917) afforded him the ability to live an indiscreet gay life.   

There were at least seven gay grand dukes at the time – uncles, nephews and cousins of the last two tsars (Alexander III and Nicholas II) – and Serge, as he was called, was at the top of the heap. He was involved in a series of homosexual affairs between 1874 and 1884, when he was living in St. Petersburg. Imperial Chancery Chief Alexander Mossolov complained that Serge’s scandalous private life was the talk of the town. Although there were laws criminalizing homosexuality, the Romanovs chose not to enforce them. During this same time period there was even a gay tsar -- but not a Russian. Tsar Ferdinand I, of German/French ancestry, ruled neighboring Bulgaria from 1887-1918 (see separate post in sidebar).

Although Grand Duke Sergei married Princess Elizabeth of Hesse (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria), his sexual orientation assured a childless marriage. However, they became the guardians of the son and daughter of Sergei’s younger brother, Grand Duke Paul, with whom Sergei had enjoyed a special closeness as a youth. Brother Paul had been banished from Russia and stripped of all titles and privileges when, after the death of his first wife, he married a divorced woman of lower social class in 1902, without being granted permission by his nephew, Tsar Nicholas II. 

The Grand Duke c. 1903
 
Sergei’s wife complained that he showed more affection to their adoptive children than to herself. As a consequence, Sergei suggested more than once that she take a “husband” from her own entourage. Ella, as Princess Elizabeth was called, was more an object of possession than affection, a strikingly beautiful woman Sergei could adorn with jewels to parade before society. Meanwhile, Sergei routinely attended musical performances with his male lover. The Grand Duke had special interests and proficiency in languages, art and music. He was a skilled painter and even played flute in an orchestra. He also wore a corset to accent his trim figure and posture. As well, he had a nervous habit of playing with the many rings on his fingers and never appeared self-assured, despite his rank.


Grand Duke Sergei was strict, ultra-religious and without the good humor of his brothers. In his later years he lived in constant fear of assassination, as his own father had been a victim of a terrorist assassination. Unfortunately, such a fate came to pass. While traveling alone by carriage inside the walls of the Kremlin Sergei was killed by a terrorist bomb in 1905, just months after he had retired from the Governorship of Moscow. He was 47 years old at the time of his death.

As for his legacy, he had enjoyed a successful military career, earning promotion to Colonel and eventually General. After active duty in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, he was awarded the Order of Saint George for bravery and courage in action with the enemy. After a visit to the Holy Lands, he became Patron of the Russian presence in Jerusalem, including chairmanship of a society dedicated to the upkeep of Orthodox shrines in the Holy Lands. As Governor of Moscow, however, he oversaw the expulsion of 20,000 Jews, victims of infamous government sponsored pogroms under Tsarist 
Russia.

Sources:
Dan Healey – Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia (2001)
Joseph Howard Tyson – 57 Years of Russian Madness (2015)
John Perry – The Flight of the Romanovs (1999)
The Advocate
Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Michael Lucas





































Born in 1972 in Moscow, activist, columnist, documentary film-maker, lecturer, porn star and explicit gay film producer Michael Lucas (birth name Andrei Treivas) was raised in a secular Jewish family during the oppressive communist era. He was the target of anti-Semitism as a youth, and some of his ancestors had been killed in the Holocaust. His great-grandfather was a rabbi who was murdered in his own synagogue by the Nazis. Michael was given his mother's maiden name at birth specifically because Treivas sounded less Jewish than his father's surname, Bregman.

Lucas has an interesting back story. He earned a law degree from Moscow State Law Academy in 1994, after which he owned and operated a travel agency. Three years later he was living in New York city, with stops in Germany and France along the way. Treivas began his porn career in Munich by working in straight films, but while in France he began an association with Jean-Daniel Cadinot in gay porn. By the age of 25 Andrei Treivas became an exclusive porn actor for Falcon Studios, who, without his counsel or permission, had given him an Americanized name – Michael Lucas. Nevertheless, he had greater ambition than being a porn star, and he got lucky. He was awarded  a green card through a lottery system.

In 2004 he became a citizen of the United States, and in 2009 took dual citizenship with Israel. The following year he renounced his Russian citizenship as a protest against Russian homophobia and anti-Semitism.

With money earned from working as a male escort, Lucas started his own gay porn production company in New York in 1998. Lucas Entertainment is now a leader in the adult entertainment industry, having produced more than 300 films. His production company employs fifteen people who work in a midtown Manhattan office rented for nearly $20,000 a month, and Michael’s home apartment boasts original Robert Mapplethorpe art on the walls. To say that this immigrant has achieved success is understatement.

In 2000 Lucas moved his Jewish grandparents to New York, and one of the first things he did was take them to see the giant menorah in Central Park, so that they could witness that it had not been vandalized. He wanted to share with them the unbelievable freedoms Americans have.

In 2008 he married his partner of eight years, Richard Winger, a businessman and president emeritus of New York’s LGBT Center. In 2014 Lucas announced that they had divorced.

As a columnist for Out, The Advocate, Huffington Post and Pink News, Michael’s reputation is controversial, and his writing is highly opinionated and outspoken. Speaking regularly at universities such as Stanford, Yale, and Oxford, he discusses social, political, and sexual issues. Lucas has been on the cover of hundreds of magazines worldwide and has been profiled in many mainstream publications ranging from New York magazine to The New Republic.

In 2012 he wrote, produced and directed a documentary titled Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land, which extols the tolerance of the Israeli State. A second documentary was made in 2014, Campaign of Hate – Russia and Gay Propaganda. Both received critical acclaim and have been presented at numerous film festivals.

As the gay news magazine The Advocate wrote, “Michael Lucas has used the stardom porn gave him as a platform to speak out against drugs, unsafe sex, child exploitation, anti-Semitism, religious oppression of gays, and a host of other social problems. Bold, honest, and passionately opinionated, Lucas continues to challenge conventional thinking in all of his pursuits.”


(Sources: MichaelLucas.com, vice.com, The Advocate, Wikipedia)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chad Griffin

 
Chad Griffin is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization.

Since joining HRC as president in 2012, Griffin has steered the organization into a fervent era of the fight for equality. He spearheaded investment in the 2012 elections that enabled victories from coast to coast and led advocacy around the Supreme Court’s rulings striking down Proposition 8 (which in 2008 barred recognition of same-sex marriages in California) and the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. He also sits on the board of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation New Orleans, which builds houses for those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.

At age 19 Griffin became the youngest-ever member of a presidential staff while working for Bill Clinton. He dropped out of college to take the job. After leaving the White House, Griffin graduated from Georgetown University and went on to forge a career in political strategy. At a private dinner with LGBT donors in 2012, Griffin asked Joe Biden the question, “What do you feel about us?” The dinner was held at the home of a gay male couple and their two children, and  Biden answered, “I wish every American could see the look of love that those kids had in their eyes for you guys. Then they wouldn’t have any doubt what this is about.” President Obama announced his own support for same sex marriage a few days later, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so. 





Griffin is passionate about extending HRC’s work to millions more, especially to young people in states like Arkansas, where Griffin (now age 43) was born and raised. He was named one of The Advocate’s people of the year, and has been regularly featured on Out magazine’s Out 100 and Power 50 lists of influential LGBTQ Americans. Recently, the Washington Post named Griffin one of the most influential out Washingtonians.

Chad began dating longtime friend Charlie Joughin in 2015, and the couple walked the red carpet together at the September 2016 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, DC. For five years Joughin served as national press secretary for HRC.  

Primary source – HRC web site