Around 150 New Yorkers formed a sea of red in front of the Russian Consulate at Madison Avenue on Tuesday. They bore signs that read “Shame on Putin” and “New York loves Russia’s gay.” They collectively chanted, “Russia, Russia we love you, won’t you love your people too?”
New York was one of nearly 33 cities in more than 20 countries across the world voicing their concern, love, and support for Russia’s LGBT community under President Vladimir Putin administration’s anti-gay laws. The Global Speak Out for Russia was an attempt to get world leaders attending September’s Group of 20 Summit in St. Petersburg to put pressure on Putin to repeal the country’s discriminatory laws.
Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of All Out, the nonprofit organization behind the event, told BuzzFeed, “We want them to know that love, equality and human rights need to be protected.” His message for Putin: ” Love always wins.”
6. BuzzFeed spoke to six New Yorkers who wanted to show Russia’s gays that they are not alone.
Who: Luke Ellenberg and Yelena Goltsman of Russian-speaking American LGBT group RUSA
Why they are here: Ellenberg’s Russian friend and gay activist Konstantin Golava was handcuffed to a 32-kilogram kettlebell as a group of self-proclaimed Nazis poured a red chemical on him. Ellenberg said Golava suffered first-degree burns, but instead of pressing charges against the people who did this to him, the Russian government fined him for giving out condoms in a place that was “too close to a memorial.”
Message for Putin: “Get lost,” Goltsman said. “The world is watching your atrocious behavior.”
Who: Ed Barron (right) and John Bonelli (left) of Act Up NY
Why are they here: Bonelli said he was “outraged” by the Russian government’s oppressive laws. “There is a rise in national sentiment to abuse gay people,” he said. “We want locals across the world to enjoy the same freedoms we enjoy here in New York,” Barron added.
Message for Putin: “STOP IT,” said Barron. “See the humanity of LGBT people and further equality and justice instead of scapegoating a population for other issues in your country.” Bonelli said, “He’s creating genocide. It’s another Holocaust.”
Who: Lawrence Gullo (left) and his husband, Fyodor Pavlov (right)
Why are they here: “I am married to a Russian citizen and it is a big dream of mine to go to my husband’s country,” said Gullo. “It is really awful that he is scared to go back to his own country.” Pavlov said he hadn’t gone home in 10 years. “The last time I went when I was 16, they were talking about using electroshock therapy as a viable cure to homosexuality,” he said. “Nothing’s changed.”
Message to Putin: “Fuck yourself,” said Pavlov. “This is American queers telling Russian queers that we’re there for you. You’re not alone,” said Gullo. “This shit is unacceptable.”