Real Talk is the Russian adaptation of the popular American YouTube show Kids Meet, a show in which children talk about age-appropriate topics with people from many different backgrounds so that they can understand people who are different from them or perhaps find comfort in the fact that other people are like them. However, some topics are forbidden in Russia, which is why the producers of Real Talk are being investigated for featuring a gay man on their show, according to Advocate.
Maxim Pankratov is the man who was featured on Real Talk who indirectly sparked this controversy because the episode violates Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws, which forbid discussions of LGBT topics and displays of LGBT visibility. The episode purportedly did not discuss any inappropriate or adult topics, but still, the producers are facing up to twenty years in prison on felony charges of sexual violence against minors. Mind you, no children were harmed in any way during this episode but due to the laws in place in Russia, the producers have been charged with something that should only be reserved for actual sexual predators.
The video has since been removed, which led people who haven’t seen it to believe that Pankratov did actually harm children and, as a result, he has been receiving death threats from parents. He told the Human Rights Watch that he narrowly escaped an attack from two men as he was going home. He didn’t report the incident to the police because he feared retaliation from the police, which is common for openly LGBT people to experience in current-day Russia.
Anti-LGBT laws are not exclusive to Russia and, in fact, seem to be ubiquitous. However, the anti-LGBT laws in Russia have created a climate of hatred and distrust of LGBT people which led to the unfortunate and unjust charges against the producers of Real Talk. The fact that even talking about LGBT topics in Russia is viewed as being as offensive as sexual assault is truly saddening and utterly despicable.