Elton will not cancel a concert planned for later this year in Russia, despite the antigay climate and the threat of prosecution and jail time posed by the country’s “gay propaganda” laws.
The 66-year-old told the Guardian that the show must go on in Moscow this December, in order to support his LGBT fans who might be suffering “in an isolated situation.”
“I've got to go,” the headliner remarked. “And I've got to think about what I'm going to say very carefully. There's two avenues of thought: Do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you're really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the antigay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go.”
Elton's decision to perform stands in contrast to another international gay icon and performer, Cher, who recently turned down an opportunity to sing in Russia because of all the “gay hate” there.
“I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show,” she told Maclean’s. “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does.”
This is not the first time Elton's sexual orientation has stirred controversy. In May 2010, an Islamic group demanded he be banned from a music festival in Morocco. But Elton ended up performing anyway.
The musician also revealed his dream of playing in front of the pyramids of Giza, an opportunity he was denied by authorities in Egypt because of the country’s antigay laws.
Although activism is still on his mind, Elton says his “priorities have changed” as he’s aged, citing to his longtime partner, David Furnish, as well as his two children.
“I probably won't be going to Albania any time soon,” Elton said. “I don't want to tour all the time. I want to spend time with David and the kids. I've got musicals to write, films to produce. None of us know how long we've got left. I could go out tomorrow and have a car crash. But you can take precautions if you want to have a longer life. And I want to grow old with my children.”