LAST TIME : 41) Eros’s shrine on the island of Kythira led to it being thought of as paradise, a concept transferred to the island of New Kythira, or Tahiti. The mutineers of HMS Bounty settled on Tahiti and surrounding islands where their descendants still live, including 42) Cam Christian, who hoped to marry his boyfriend on Norfolk Island until the Australian government removed its self-governing status. An earlier campaign against Australia’s ban on same-sex marriage was led by another Bounty mutineer descendant, 43) Dale Parker Anderson (b.1965), a gay man with a straight twin brother, as was 44) Modest Tchaikovsky (1850-1916).
Once again, recent events
link in with today’s article which, like all of these “80 Gays” articles, was
planned out last December. I finished last time on the subject of gay/straight
twins. Two weeks ago UK television aired a documentary on identical twins, and
it featured one set of twin sisters, one of whom is transgender. The University
of Essex began a new study of identical twins in May and is encouraging
gay/straight twins to take part. And last week Lachlan Beaton, a professional
Australian rules footballer came out as gay – he too has a straight identical
twin. So the timing couldn’t have been better if it was planned.
Modest Tchaikovsky was
the twin brother of Anatoly Tchaikovsky. They were ten years younger than their
famous composer brother 45) Pyotr
Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). Their mother died when Modest was 4 years old and
the children were brought up by their father. Pyotr became a kind of surrogate
parent to his younger siblings and a very close bond formed between him and the
Modest came to idolise
Pyotr and imitate him in his own behaviour, something Pyotr was aware of and
questioned. Perhaps because of this Pyotr favoured the other twin, Anatoly. In
1875 Pyotr wrote to Modest saying “You resemble me too much, and when I am
angry with you, I am in fact angry at myself, since you always act as a mirror
in which I see the reflection of all my weaknesses.” This didn’t change much,
because when the two brothers were older and had been collaborating on many
musical projects together their acquaintances thought it was Pyotr and Modest who
were the twins in the family.
The similarities between
the famous composer and his brother had become more apparent ten years earlier
when, still only a teenager, Modest learnt from Anatoly that their older
brother was gay (as we would say today). Modest was relieved. Like all young
men realising that their sexuality was different to others he thought he must
be some sort of freak. Anatoly was horrified that two of his brothers were gay,
especially as he was particularly close to both of them and one was his twin.
Modest Tchikovsky and 45) Pyotr Tchaikovsky can be linked by
marriage to other famous musical members of Russia’s lgbt community. It will
probably help if I insert this very basic family tree here. To make it less
confusing I’ve left out dates and other family members. People I mention by
name below have coloured boxes around them so they are easier to find.
We’ll start with the
Tchaikovsky family and a first cousin of Modest and Tchaikovsky on their
father’s side called Alexandra. Her son married the younger of two sisters, the
elder of which became the second wife of Pavel Diaghilev, thus becoming
stepmother to the impresario 46) Sergei
Diaghilev (1872-1929). The Diaghilevs often referred to 45) Pyotr Tchaikovsky as Uncle Petya.
This was an affectionate and informal name, as the relationship was more
distant than that and was by marriage not blood.
Another link to the
Diaghilevs comes through another first cousin, this time on Modest and Pyotr’s
mother’s side. Their cousin Amalya Schobert married Count Nikolas Litke (also
known by the German name of Count Nicolas von Lütke). Hopping across to the
Litkes we find one of Nikolas’s own first cousins called Anna Sulmeneva. She
was 46) Sergei Diaghilev’s
Further back in
Diaghilev’s Litke ancestry was Anna Engel. Her sister was the
great-great-grandmother of 47) Igor
Stravinksy (1882-1971), making him a 4th cousin to Sergei
One blood-link unites 44) Modest Tchaikovsky, 45) Pyotr Tchaikovsky, 46) Sergei Diaghilev and 47) Igor Stravinsky. We go to Pyotr’s beathbed. A small group of close
relatives and friends kept vigil at his bedside, including his brother Modest
and the sons of their cousin Amalya and Count Nikolas Litke. These sons link
the Tchaikovskys, Diaghilevs and Stravinskys – they were blood related to all
We move over a century
ahead now to 2014. When Russia began introducing its anti-gay laws you would
often hear some politicians say “there are no gay people in Russia”. The mayor
of Moscow certainly thought there weren’t any in HIS city! Some wouldn’t even
acknowledge that famous Russians from history, like those mentioned above, were
lgbt. So I was very pleased when the Sochi Olympic committee made many
references to lgbt Russians in their opening and closing ceremonies, including
ALL of those mentioned above.
Unfortunately, the 2014
Sochi Olympics attracted much political and human rights attention and many
people called for a boycott. Whatever your own views on boycotts, they are
short-term protests that raise awareness of an issue without actually effecting
Protests against Russia’s
anti-gay laws continue. Some decide to boycott Russian products. Some chose to
confront the authorities head on – and raise money for lgbt charities in the process.
One man who did just that was 48) Keith
Next time, we see how that
protest went to the top of Europe, leading us to the top of the world, and then
into outer space.