Man is what he believes.
– Anton Chekhov –
My Dear Russian Gay Brothers and Sisters,
I don’t know any of your names or faces, except for those mentioned and shown in the media. Yet, all of you are constantly in my thoughts and have been since I first learned about Vladimir Putin’s heinous anti-gay propaganda law.
I hope you can find some comfort in knowing that those of us who are living more liberated and free lives — and there are many of us — will not be silenced.
The world is a witness to what is happening in your country. Our eyes are open and we hear your plight. We will speak for you while you can’t.
For us, gay and straight, the beatings, murders and humiliations that you are suffering, and the fear you are living in, are unacceptable. As equal members of the civil world, we do not approve of this hateful and criminal display of intolerance.
Be brave. You are not alone.
Today, a petition with more than 300,000 signatures will be delivered to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters. This petition, along with a letter from British actor Stephen Fry and thousands of signatures from Athlete Ally members, is a global call urging the IOC to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws before the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi.
The global Gay Community and our allies are serious with our demands. We don’t want Russia to simply relax these archaic and draconian laws during the Games. Instead, we want to see these laws denounced completely. We want assurance that all visitors, athletes and Russian people, are safe and free to be who they are before, during, and after the Games. In the past weeks, Lady Gaga, Pink, Harvey Fierstein (the US playwright and actor), US President Barak Obama, Sir Ian Mckellen, Stephen Fry, Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham and former Olympian Greg Louganis are among the many who have added their voices to our cry.
We all want you to be safe and to be treated with human dignity. We are making a noise as loud as we can and we are applying pressure the best way we know how to. We hope that our governments and those in power will not be ignorant to the fact that times have changed. We trust that the key decision makers will not stand in apathy and do nothing.
We have hope. You do too.
In the meantime, while we’re doing all we can, I ask you to be vigilant.
Be careful of Internet Chat rooms and social media platforms like vkontakte.ru and odnoklassniki.ru. These are easy places for those who want to harm you, to target you. When you are in public, stay in the safety of a trusted group of friends. Avoid places that can be targeted by homophobic thugs and those who are easily egged on by their actions.
Know your friends and know your foes. You may not be able to be out and proud right now, but you will have your day. Be patient.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don’t allow the message that you are shameful or that there is something ‘wrong’ with you find a route to your heart and mind.
Hold onto these words: You are perfect the way you are. No law, culture, religion, country or other fallible human being have the right to make you think or feel anything else.
You have a purpose. You have a right to be here. Believe this.
Proud Gay Man
Image – History of Silnece – Graphic Art, by FR Lubbe. Inspired by a WW2 Russian Propaganda Poster
Text: FR Lubbe