When Boris Nadezhdin, a former Russian Duma deputy, suggested that homosexuality was biological, an audience member cried out, “that’s a lie!” reigning in the rogue guest. I watched “Sodom,” along with dozens of hours of Russian television, to try and understand the narrative on homosexuality being disseminated across the country. Major television networks, all of which are either state-owned or firmly under the influence of the state, spread a narrative that goes beyond homophobia into a surreal, parallel universe of logic. It is a world that has sprung up relatively recently.
Four years ago, the idea that homosexuality was linked to pedophilia was something that only cropped up in news coverage of the handful of politicians who espoused that view. Now, across the full spectrum of Russian media, that theory is presented as scientific fact. TV hosts across the networks regularly discuss homosexuality as a problem that needs to be solved. Three quarters of Russians now consider homosexuality a psychological disorder, and theories for “treatment” are popular on-air conversation starters.