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After This Russian TV Star Came Out, the Viewing Public Didn't Blink

Odin Biron

American actor Odin Biron is back in Moscow filming the latest season of the hit show Interns

Back in February, Odin Biron, an American actor who plays a guileless American medical intern (and son of two gay fathers) on the immensely popular Russian sitcom Interns, came out in a New York magazine interview.

This understandably led to some tense professional moments for the Duluth, Minn., native, but according to a followup story published in the New York Times, it seems everything has turned out OK. Biron's agent advised him not to talk to the press and the actor was warned not to take Moscow's metro since there were physical threats made against him on social media. He left the country until things calmed down. They in fact did, and Biron's now back in Russia shooting the latest season of Interns -- which draws 3.7 million viewers per episode and is one of the biggest hits on Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of the energy giant and the country's largest media conglomerate -- and his agency is still getting him new work over there.

"I wanted to utilize my position, the stardom capital, the fame capital that I'd built up here -- I wanted to use that for good," Biron told the Times. "Especially since Vanya had made those comments," he said, referring to Vanya Okhlobystin, Biron's Interns co-star (and a former Russian Orthodox priest), who said that gays should be burned alive. "I wanted to balance that out some way."

"He wasn't discussed or judged, but everyone was wondering, 'Why? Why now?' " Mr. Okhlobystin said. "This scandal is embarrassing. It would be better if it never happened."

Okhlobystin says he can no longer be friends with Biron: "It put us in an idiotic position," he said. "A sodomite is working near us, and then he confesses that. It would be better for us not to know." He added that, as professionals, they would finish shooting the rest of the season, and he did have some words of praise for Biron, saying: "He's a beautiful person, he's a talented person, he knows Russian really well."

This seems to be one of the major reactions from the Russian public, according to American media accounts. It's not really news that an actor is gay, rather the question is why did he decide to come out publicly.

The other reaction was short-lived curiosity: The news spread quickly over social media and appeared in some tabloids, but television news outlets didn't bat an eye and Russians lost interest.

In addition to filming Interns, Biron is starring in a sold-out production of Gogol's Dead Souls at the Gogol Center, an avant-garde theater in Moscow. While he's prepared to leave Russia if he needs to, for now it seems that Biron's career remains mostly intact.

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