Metro Weekly

Gay Porn Star Could Replace Catherine the Great Statue in Ukraine

Citizen petition calls for swapping out the statue to send a "loud statement" to Russia as its invasion of Ukraine rages on.

Monument to the Founders of Odessa (left) – Photo: Jean & Nathalie, via Wikimedia; Billy Herrington (right) – Photo: Danny Choo, via Flickr.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be forced to respond to a petition that calls for erecting a statue of a gay porn star to replace a statue of Catherine the Great in Odessa.

The statue of the Russian monarch was part of a larger Monument to the Founders of Odessa, first erected in 1900, which depicted Catherine and several of her closest advisors and confidantes, who have been credited with helping found the Black Sea port city.

The petition, which currently boasts more than 26,000 signatures, gives five reasons why Catherine the Great shouldn’t be memorialized with a statue in the city’s main square, and gay adult film star Billy Herrington should be.

Some of the reasons are lighthearted, such as: “It’s fun and funny,” “All students of Odessa universities will be able to drink beer with Billy Herrington after receiving their diploma,” and “The figure of Billy Herrington has a great cultural influence on the Internet and the appearance of such a monument will become a very popular tourist attraction.”

Other reasons on the petition are slightly more serious, pointing out that a statue memorializing a former ruler of Russia — which is not only a different country, but is currently engaged in a military invasion against Ukraine —  sends a negative message about Russian influence over Ukrainian culture.

The petition says that one of those more serious reasons includes “renunciation of the infamous Russian heritage” which will send a “loud statement that Odessa is not some provincial town of the Russian Empire” and that “Odessa is not a part of Russian culture but has its own culture and sense of humor.”

“The very fact of erecting this monument was a terrible mistake, and every day of its continued existence signals that Odessa is in the zone of Russian cultural influence. It’s time to change that,” the petition continues.

One of the other reasons cited for erecting a statue of Herrington — an American-born actor who rose to fame in the late 1990s, who died in a “horrible accident” in 2018, and who has no obvious ties to Ukraine — is that doing so would send “a clear signal that Ukraine supports the LGBT community,” in defiance of Russian laws banning same-sex marriage or an anti-“propaganda” law that prevents people from sharing information about homosexuality or portraying LGBTQ-related topics in a positive or neutral light.

Ukraine’s military, on the other hand, approved of a special patch for LGBTQ soldiers to wear as an act of defiance against Russia’s homophobic regime. Additionally, the desire some Ukrainians have to have their country seen as a more “Western” or “European” nation — at least culturally — generally prompts them to adopt more pro-LGBTQ or libertarian attitudes on social issues.

Even as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, including lobbing missiles at Odessa, the city remains under Ukrainian control in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.

Under Ukrainian law, any petition signed by more than 25,000 people must be considered by the president within 10 days. While it may not be realistic to expect to see a likeness of Herrington erected anytime soon, statues can be political in nature, and, given Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, it would not be surprising to see monuments honoring Russian culture or leaders to be razed as a show of solidarity with Ukrainian soldiers fighting to retain their independence.

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