Wednesday, September 30, 2020


The 8-nation award diploma team of Bears International has awarded the 2020 Iolaus diploma to Aleksei Grachev of St. Petersburg for outstanding courage and bravery, with the motivation: 

"... for strong determination to defy homophobic attitudes of Russia´s political and religious leaders, a hostile media, intolerance and even violence from hooligans and homophobes, .... for the pioneering creation of SP Bears and SP Leather Club, and organizing Russian Leather Prides with both local, national and much international participation, .... for illustrating that a so-called "handicapp" -- hearing or otherwise -- need not be a hinder to great works and initiatives but can be an ignition to accomplish even more."

" -- and for confirming that Bears are a vital element of the LGBT struggle – proving that gays come in all sizes, all ages, all professions, all races and ethnic backgrounds, all nationalities, native-born and refugees and immigrants,  all religious or non-religious backgrounds."

The award diplom was presented in an usual venue -- a Moscow Bear sauna party -- by Bears International-award winning photographer Vladimir Bob Lysenko from Moscow.  

St. Petersburg Bear event, with Moscow activist Vladimir Bob Lysenko reading the motivation for the Bears International Iolaus 2020 award diploma to Bear activist, Aleksei Grachev.

The "Iolaus 2020" is shared with  Belarus LGBT Journalists for Tolerance and the Lokys Bears of Belarus.


Ancient Greek Male Lovers

The award diploma is decorated with the beautiful drawing of ancient Greek heroes, Iolaus and his lover, Hercules provided by Spanish artist, Manolo Yanes from his series "Ancient Friends" -- a series of drawings of male homosexual lovers of ancient Greek gods and heroes -- rekindling sometimes forgotten names of the past and confirming that gays not only have a proud and dignified history, but are indeed every where and every when.

  This 2020 award diploma joins the other Bears International awards: the "Calais" (the ancient Greek lover of Orpheus) for international travel and networking and the "Hyacinthus" (the ancient Greek lover of Apollo -- god of art and light) for Bear art and photography. 


2019 Iolaus Award to Bears in Moscow

As earlier reported, Bears International presented the 2019 Iolaus award to the Moscow Bear Club in connection with their 20th year anniversary.
The motivation was: "…in this their 20th anniversary year -- for strong determination, bold insistence on surviving and flourishing despite the homophobic attitudes of the nation’s political and religious leaders, despite a hostile media and despite the intolerance and even violence of Russian hooligans and neo Nazis."

"... and for confirming that the colors of the rainbow stretched over geographic and psychological borders do not grow dimmer but stronger and more brilliant."

Aleksei Grachev 
Aleksei Grachev 
Iolaus and his lover, the bearded Hercules by Spanish artist, Manolo Yanes

Iolaus and Hercules

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Swedish LGBT Delegation to Polish Embassy in Stockholm

Stockholm -- A LGBT delegation met with the head of the political and economic section, Iwona Jablonowska,  of the Polish Embassy in Stockholm recently to protest over the arrest and detention of Polish activists placing rainbow flags on statues in Warsaw and on the growing number of Polish towns, cities and provinces declaring themselves "LGBT Free" and setting up border signs to this effect.

Dr. Jablonowska promised to check on the legal proceedings against well-known Polish activist, Margot Sztowicz, which she insists was the only activist involved still jailed for the event with rainbow flags and was arrested because of violence and damages caused in the event.

EU Cities Break with Polish "LGBT-Free" Cities and Towns

She also insisted that the "LGBT Free" declarations have no legal consequences and that the civil rights of LGBT people in these some 100 zones have not been diminished, but agreed that they had serious psychological effects.  Noting that a number of European "twin cities" have broken off  relations with their partners and that the European Union has severed financial support for local projects in these "LGBT Free" areas. 

She also promised to provide the full list of the Polish "LGBT Free " areas in order to inform those 36 Swedish cities and towns with twinning projects in Poland about the possible status of the "LGBT Free" zone  there.

Several of the Swedish delegates emphasized that the concept of "LGBT Free" was reminicent of the "Juden Frei" policy of Nazi Germany in Poland and the rest of occuppied Europe, and these days promotes hatred and violence against LGBT people.

The diplomat was also informed that the once lively exchange of LGBT culture workers between Sweden and Poland supported by official institutes disappeared several years ago, and she promised to investigate how this could be re-established.

The delegate from Queer Amnesty, Réne Prada,  handed over a statement to be delivered to the Polish minister of justice to guarantee the human rights of LGBT persons in Poland, with demands for en end to anti-discrimination rhetoric in Poland encourging more violence and hatred, for the adoption of punishment for anti-LGBT hate crimes such as legislation existing in Sweden and many other European countries and pointing out that surveys show Poland as the worst place in Europe for LGBT people.

The Swedish LGBT delegates came from Amnesty InternationalTupilak (Norddic rainbow culture workers) and the ILGCN (international rainbow culture network) Information Secretariat.
Photos: Warsaw mermaid statue with rainbow flag, Polish town sign "LGBT-Free"

Saturday, September 19, 2020


Stockholm -- Representatives of Tupilak (Nordic rainbow culture workers) and the ILGCN (international rainbow culture network) Information Secretariat-Stockholm joined with Dr. Anna Hájková, Czech/UK from her home in England with a Zoom connection, presenting some of her research into "Queer History in the Holocaust" -- describing the challenges and the difficulties in finding materials and working in areas not always supported by universities and other institutions.

The September 15, 2020 event also included the award to Dr. Hájková of the ILGCN's "Orfeo Iris 2020" award honoring "outstanding contributions to research on LGBT people in Nazi and neo Nazi times."

The motivation reads: "for the crucial, often ignored research -- also with books and numberous articles -- on the fate of LGBT people in the Nazi death camps."

The award is named after "iris" -- the rainbow, and the ancient Greek musician, Orpheus, whose powerful music could calm elven the demons of the underworld and who was proud of his male lovers, including Calais -- a fellow sailor on the Argos.

Earlier winners of the Orfeo Iris include the U.S. Holocaust Museum which had a gay researcher stationed in Europe to carry out work on homosexuals in the Holocaust, the Malmö City Museum in southern Sweden -- for arranging an exhbition on neo Nazi attacks and murders of homosexuals and immigrants, a controversial German ex-priest and author - revealing discrimination of LGBT people in the Catholoic Church, German and Austrian university students carrying out research on homophobic atrocities by the Nazis -- defying professors who insisted such work was unimportant, and the Museum of Auschwitz in Poland -- for including homosexuals in the list of those imprisoned and murdered there -- unlike many other museums, exhibitions, documentaries, news programs and anniversary events leaving out LGBT people in their lists of victims of the Nazis.
One of the important paricipants in the Zoom was Barbara Frölich of the Anti-Fascist organization in Vienna -- who will meet Dr. Hájková during her October visit to the Austrian capital.
The Zoom event was arranged since the virus has made planned travel to Sweden impossible at this time, but Dr. Hájková will come to Stockholm next year -- for more discussions and face-to-face questioning.
The Tupilak/ILGCN presentations planned for September 16 as part of the "Holocaust" event -- including comments on the Swedish-led LGBT official visit to Auschwitz 20 years ago, Franco's gay concentration camp Tefiá on Fuerteventura 10 years after Auschwitz was liberated, and the recent gay concentration camps in Checnya -- will be delivered in Stockholm on October 17 -- as part of the 5th National Rainbow History & Culture Month.
More information: facebooks "Tupilak" "ILGCN"

Photos/art: Orpheo and his Calais, Anna Hájkova, award dip