SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Now that the slaying of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma has become old news, the contentious debate of gun rights has once again given way to the contentious issue of gay rights. Much of the uproar stems from Russia's renewed sense of homophobia, which has resulted in the passage of recently ratified anti-gay laws that threaten to disrupt the 2014 Winter Olympics being hosted in Sochi. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked the global community anew by announcing that two cosmonauts would be arrested under the law upon their return to Earth for "propagandizing non-traditional sexual actions" during their attempts to repair a camera on the International Space Station.
Issues affecting the LGBT community took center stage in today's media. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents that portrayed the government in an unfavorable light, revealed his sexual identity issues in 2010 at the time of his arrest. On Thursday, Manning released a press statement confirming his desire to live as a woman.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female," Manning wrote.
A day before, actor Wentworth Miller, who was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2006 for his role in the series "Prison Break," came out as gay to protest the Russian government's anti-gay legislation. Miller's mother is of Russian heritage.
In June 2013, after two decades of decriminalizing homosexuality, Russia took a major step backward by passing a federal bill that bans the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, using heavy fines, threats of imprisonment and overly broad interpretations to punish violators. The new law, to be enforced during the 2014 Winter Olympics, has continued to provoke outcry from athletes, celebrities, gay rights advocates and other groups around the world.
And yet, Russian officials have betrayed no signs of relenting, evident in this morning's announcement about the arrest warrants issued for the country's famous spacewalkers.
Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin were scheduled for a more than five-hour spacewalk Thursday morning outside the hull of the Zvezda command module to attach an experimental camera aiming system on a telescope mount. Because of technical problems discovered shortly after the beginning of the excursion, the project was delayed. The device was eventually installed, but the entire ordeal was captured and transmitted on video. Russian officials said the footage reveals offensive non-traditional sexual behaviors.
"This was a deeply troubling and embarrassing incident for the Sovie...Russian Federation," said Boris Demidov, a spokesperson for Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency.
"We are still trying to determine how many impressionable children witnessed this disgusting display," he continued. "Here were have two heroic specimens of Russian men, both straddling a phallic object together in space, holding hands, seemingly unable to figure out how the long shaft should slide into the proper opening at the base. Both utterly confused about what seems a natural process to normal people."
Demidov described transmissions from the cosmonauts to flight controllers as "communications full of homosexual code words and propaganda."
Upon reaching the attach point, the spacewalkers began repeatedly talking about "mounting plates," bolting things on "in the wrong orientation" and "bi-axial platforms" -- all conspicuous allusions to gay male sex acts, according to Roscosmos leaders.
"It was their impression that the work station was not oriented properly," NASA commentator Pat Ryan reported from the United States.
"It was not innocent," Demidov protested. "Yurchikhin and Misurkin have been corrupted by the decadent Westerners they have had the sad occasion to meet during joint missions. They went on and on about mis-alignments and non-traditional orientation and inconvenient positions and all these bi-axial things and screws. Minutes of chatter about missing screws. It was appalling."
Toward the end of the mission, Russian officials stated, Yurchikhin and Misurkin decided to compensate for the problems with orientation using unorthodox methods.
"They told flight engineers that there really wasn't anything too terrible about re-orientation once they became familiar with it, and that they could still make it fit," Demidov explained, blushing. "So they forced the shaft into the wrong mount, using a hole never intended for that purpose. They said they could just compensate for this misalignment -- that it worked just as well, it wasn't hurting anything and that people would just have to accept it."
When Yurchikhin and Misurkin's mission ends, they will be met in Russia by federal law enforcement agents who will take them into immediate custody as examples to the public.
2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.