The editors of the new tumblr, LGBT Po-Russki, which we posted about recently, send us their most recent editorial in English, hoping for your feedback and for sharing, to reach a wider audience.
Last weekend, New York hosted PROPAGANDA: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices. The Sunday session featured the reading of Tess Berry-Hart’s play SOCHI 2014 narrating real stories of homophobic abuse, isolation and arrests facing Russian LGBTQ people in pre-Olympic Russia.The emotional performance was followed by a discussion with a Russian journalist Masha Gessen, the president of Spectrum Human Rights Alliance Larry Poltavsev, and an Olympic athlete Derrick Adkins. The panel discussed a number of strategies to support Russian LGBTQ community, by assisting LGBTQ asylees, exerting pressure on the Olympic committee and sponsors, and the more controversial strategy of boycotting the Olympics. Masha Gessen brought up an interesting point: perhaps, whether we should boycott or attend the Olympics to speak up in support of LGBTQ rights is not the right question. As long as the act sends the right message against the LGBTQ repressions to the Russian authorities, it is the right thing to do. Taking it even further, she suggested that in general, when it comes to the violations of human rights in Russia, responding by “doing the right thing” can be important in and of itself, whether it turns out to be efficient or not.At LGBTpo-russki, we sided with this point, but we disagreed with Masha Gessen when she questioned the chances of international community to reach a broad Russian audience, since any pro-LGBTQ message will likely be blocked by the non-democratic regime controlling the media. We take a more optimistic stance. Yes, the mass-media are controlled by the totalitarian government. But there are online spaces where LGBTQ people can speak and be heard. There are projects like “Deti-404”, an online forum where Russian LGBTQ teens share their stories, and there are projects like ours, where positive messages about LGBTQ people are made available to the Russian people in Russian. We may not be reaching a broad audience (yet), because people rarely venture into checking the media sources that go against their current views, but that issue holds even in democratic societies with free speech. With the help of our LGBTQ members and allies in Russia, we will keep reaching more and more Russian people. We will keep sending loud messages about LGBTQ rights to Russia, even if only a few can hear us. After all, that is what “doing the right thing” means to us.LGBT po-russki