Oh the irony! Months after banning the promotion of homosexuality, Russia opened the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi with t.A.T.u., a female duo known for pretending to be in a lesbian relationship.
Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova walked onto the stage for the official pre-opening ceremony performance at Fisht Olympic Stadium while holding hands. Although it was much more demure than the on-stage kisses that helped make them famous in the early 2000s, it still sent a message… Albeit a slightly confusing one.
“t.A.T.u. just performed at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so I guess Putin’s never seen their videos,” said one tweet.
Another person commented, “TATU performing at #Sochi2014. So, the message here is ‘Fake gay, OK. Actual gay, TERRIBLE.'”
Internationally, the ladies of t.A.T.u. earned their greatest success with All the Things She Said.
Back in that song’s heyday, Lena and Yulia insisted they were lesbians. “t.A.T.u.” is even a reference Russian phrase for “this girl loves that girl.”
When Yulia announced she was pregnant in 2004, the duo was forced to admit their relationship was faked for attention. Last August, Lena told the Daily Beast she was comfortable with the fabrication because it was like “a role in a movie.”
“I had some thoughts, because I was pretending to be who I wasn’t. And then, I was thinking about it a lot, ‘Why am I concerned?’ There are so many actors playing different roles in movies… If I am helping people with this role, then why not.”
Lena and Yulia, who ended t.A.T.u. to pursue solo careers in 2011, both remain vocally pro-LGBT.
“The government not a long time ago made a new rule you can’t show that you are gay in public, which is weird,” Lena said in August. “A lot of people from the government with the big positions are gay. Why people can’t be free?”