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