Zelensky to consider honoring gay porn star
A petition calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to commemorate American pornographic actor Billy Herrington with a monument in Odessa has passed 25,000 votes and must now be considered. Activists want Herrington’s likeness to replace that of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
Launched in May, the petition passed the threshold of 25,000 votes this week. Describing Catherine II as a “controversial historical figure whose actions caused great damage to Ukrainian statehood and culture,” it calls on Zelensky to ensure that her statue is torn down and replaced with one of Herrington sitting “at the bar with a bottle of beer.”
The petition’s author wrote that this would make the statement that “Odessa is not a part of Russian culture but has its own culture and sense of humor,” and would send “a clear signal that Ukraine supports the LGBT community.” Furthermore, he wrote that a monument to Herrington would be “fun and funny” and would be worth it for “memes.”
Herrington filmed adult movies, most of them with other men, between 1990 and his death in a car accident in 2018. Famous in Japanese ‘Gachimuchi’ memes, Herrington’s name has already been put before Ukrainian politicians, when a similar petition in March called on local authorities in the city of Zaporozhye to rename Mayakovsky Square ‘Billy Herrington Square’.
The activist behind the petition – likely the same culprit responsible for the Odessa campaign – claimed that “generations of not only Americans, but also Ukrainians and Europeans grew up on his films,” and that the square would become “a powerful tourist magnet.”
Aside from generating laughs on Russian television, the petition went nowhere.
The monument of Catherine II in Odessa caused controversy long before petitions called for its replacement with the likeness of an adult film star. Depicting the empress and four of her companions, the ‘Monument to the founders of Odessa’ was erected in 1900 by Yuri Meletevich Dmitrenko, but removed in 1920 by order of the Bolsheviks. Ukrainian authorities restored the statue in 2007, a move that was opposed by Ukrainian nationalists, among them then-president Viktor Yuschenko.
A fishing village during centuries of Ottoman rule, Odessa was founded as a city by decree of Catherine II in 1794, and during the 19th century was the fourth-largest city in the Russian Empire. Odessans today predominantly speak Russian.