This is Elena Musolina and her son, Dmitry, who came out to her nearly six years ago. They live in St. Petersburg, Russia and are activists with the LGBT group Coming Out.
And here's Musolina taking on St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, one of the architects of Russia's "gay propaganda" law, at a public hearing on the local version of the ban in September 2012.
When Musolina joined Coming Out's support group for parents of LGBT kids in 2011, she didn't expect it would become political. But that changed when the "gay propaganda" ban made her feel like her son was a second-class citizen.
When BuzzFeed News asked Musolina if she was afraid of being accused of violating the law on propaganda, she laughed. “They could say that,” she said. “But I know I am not violating it. I know that I am right.”
Musolina, a petite 68-year-old, comes to LGBT rights demonstrations in St. Petersburg with other mothers in Coming Out's parents club, which she now helps lead.
“When they say we are losing family values it’s stupid, we are saving family values," Musolina told BuzzFeed News.
"When they see a woman of my age is going out and supporting [LGBT rights], maybe other people will think they can talk about it,” she said. “I'm ready to talk about it."
The parents club welcomes young adults looking for advice on how to come out to their families. New visitors are often scared at their first meeting, but many return to report they've come out and some bring their own moms.
The group is now under threat after Coming Out was branded a "foreign agent" under a 2012 law that requires NGOs receiving foreign funding and engaging in what the government broadly deems “political activity” to register as such.
Musolina has spoken about the parents club at events in Russia and beyond. Here she is at Stockholm Pride in Sweden in 2013.
Musolina and her husband have welcomed Dmitry's partner into their lives. Despite Russia's laws, she wants people — and politicians — to know her family is a part of her country.
Susie Armitage is the Global Managing Editor and is based in New York.
Contact Susie Armitage at email@example.com.
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