On Wednesday, April 29, Jewish Russian-American journalist, author and LGBT activist Masha Gessen will present “From Putin to Pussy Riot and Beyond” with Washington Post National Security Editor Peter Finn at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.
Gessen has written books about about Vladimar Putin, Pussy Riot, and her latest work deals with the Tsarnaevs the Chechen brothers suspected of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombings.
“That’s what I do; I’m a political journalist,” Gessen told EDGE. “The Tsarnaevs drew me to them because first of all, I have experience covering Chechnya, and I have also covered a lot of terrorists while in Russia and at Harvard. I too was a teenaged Russian immigrant in Boston. It seemed custom made for me.”
Gessen has also written extensively about Putin, who once called her, “probably the only publicly out gay person” in Russia. She said that there are no safe places in Russia for LGBTs anymore — the only way people can stay safe is to leave the country. This has fueled a refugee crisis that is largely invisible to the U.S., and a cultural divide that puts LGBT people squarely in the same camp as ‘agents of the West.’ Although the U.S. has declared LGBT rights a human rights priority, Gessen said this is mostly words and not a lot of action.