As the 2014 Sochi Olympics get underway, the biggest story is not any particular event. No perfect triple-axel or record-setting bobsled time will overshadow that which will define this Olympics in history as surely as John Carlos’s and Tommie Smith’s raised fists at the 1968 games in Mexico City.

Russia’s clownish anti-gay laws have sparked intimidation and violence against the country’s LGBT community and have put state-sanctioned homophobia in the global spotlight. But author and activist Joseph Huff-Hannon set out to write a book about the flip side of this story—true tales of gay and lesbian Russians at home and within the diaspora—and in an oral history reminiscent of Studs Terkel, Huff-Hannon and his co-editor, Masha Gessen (herself an out journalist who recently fled Russia and wrote about it for The Guardian last year), chronicle individual tales of this community. These are ordinary people living their lives as best they know how in unexpected and frightening circumstances.

Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories is absolutely illegal under the new Russian law, but it stands as a testament to the idea that the best defense against bigotry and narrow-mindedness is a good offense: take some humanity and shove it in your face. Huff-Hannon and Gessen hope to circulate the Russian-language version of the book within the country’s borders, and I recently spoke with Huff-Hannon about how he hopes this book can contribute to the resistance against Russia’s heightened homophobia.

Read the full interview at The Rumpus.

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