12 April – Cosmonautics Day





Cosmonautics Day (Day of Cosmos/Outer Space Exploration) is an anniversary celebrated in Russia and some other former USSR countries on 12 April. In 2011, 12 April was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight in dedication of the first manned space flight made on 12 April 1961 by the 27-year-old Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It was sensational!
Yuri’s smile conquered the world.

Yuri Matthew Ryuntyu

Yesterday I met the author of the book “Rudi Nuriev without make-up”, which was a sensation in Russia, and talked with him. It happened in my city – Cairns. The author’s name is Yuri Matthew Ryuntyu. He came to Australia long time ago, in 1980, as a refugee. He has a degree from Petrozavodsk university (Russia, USSR). He lived in Cairns – it’s a pity that we did not meet before, and moved to Canberra a short time ago. This time he came to Cairns for personal reasons.

I bought the book from the Kamkin bookshop in the USA, it was sent to me in Australia by mail. It was published in Russia in 1995, and I read it shortly after it was printed. Nuriev, or Nureyev, was a famous ballet dancer. He was gay (although not 100%, he was periodically interested in women too, so, apparently, there are reasons to consider him bisexual). Speaking about himself, Yuri said that he is not gay, but he has always worked for the rights of gays. He is now about 70. He told me a lot of interesting things. His book “Rudi Nuriev without make-up” impresses readers with “raw truth” and frankness. Sometimes even childlike naivety and … fairy-tale adventures and aspirations (it is not for nothing that Rudolf Nureyev danced fairy-tale characters).

It was one of the first gay books I read and the first book about a Soviet gay. Nureyev (1938 – 1993) was not ashamed of his sexuality, he behaved naturally and openly, which wouldn’t be a novelty or surprise nowadays, but back then it was amazing and even shocking. The impressions of me first reading the book are alive to this day, their strength has not weakened despite the fact that I have read lots of materials about gays after that and despite my own vast experience.

By the way, Rudolph Nureyev was a frequent visitor to Australia. Yuri Ryuntyu was acquainted with him for 7 years. Nureyev instructed him to write a biographical book, sharing with him his vast personal archive.

Yuri Matthew Ryuntyu published many other books, he wrote both in Russian and English. So yes, you could read his books about Nureyev in English (and other languages too).