Despite cancellation rumors, Sir Elton John performed for sold-out venues in Russia on December 6 and 7. The outré singer unapologetically spoke out against the “inhumane and isolating” anti-gay legislation during the Moscow concert and dedicated the show to 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, who was tortured and murdered after supposedly telling his friends that he was gay.
Although many fans and peers in the United States advised against the show in Russia, calling for John to boycott instead, the singer told his audience that he didn’t “believe in isolating people.”
“People have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia,” said the 66-year-old performer from the stage. “But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here.”
“I want to show them and the world that I care and that I don’t believe in isolating people. Music is a very powerful thing. It brings people together irrespective of their age, their race, their sexuality, or their religion. It does not discriminate. Look around you tonight. You see men, women, young and old, gay and straight. Thousands of Russian people enjoying the music. We’re all here together in harmony and harmony is what makes a happy family and a strong society.”
However, John reportedly omitted all remarks regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community at his following December 7 show in Kazan. Reports in the Evening Kazan and Komsomolskaya Pravda indicate that no political comments were made in regards to the “anti-propaganda” law or President Vladimir Putin, who John previously announced he wouldn’t speak ill of.
This show makes the singer/songwriter the first major Western pop star known for strongly supporting gay rights to play in Russia since Putin signed the national law banning the distribution of “homosexual propaganda” to minors.