Like most LGBT Americans, I’ve been watching the horror unfold in Russia as violence, beatings, suicides, and other crimes have been committed against gay Russians. And like most LGBT Americans, I’m not sure what I can do to help. Really, what can we do when a tyrannical, homophobic government passes laws that allows citizens to brutalize others simply for existing? I’m really at a loss and only holding on to a hope that people in the international community far more powerful than me will do something. I know lots of gay bars in the US stopped offering Stoli vodka and I read that Venice is cutting ties with its sister city- St. Petersburg, but what has that done to protect people?
As I’ve been reading about the violence going on in Russia I stumbled across a blog called “Children 404″ and felt the need to contribute. 404 is the error message you get when a webpage does not exist so the title “Children 404″ is ironic on purpose because gay children DO exist, and that’s the point of this campaign. Despite the efforts of the Russian government to force them into hiding or to eliminate them through legislation, gay people do exist in Russia and in every other country in the world and always have. “Children 404″ is like the “It Gets Better” campaign but directed to gay Russian youth, reminding them that they do exist, that there is hope and that they are loved. The threat of violence and harm is so real against them that Russian gays and lesbians can’t even show their faces in their photos. What the hell is going on? What century is this?! Seriously Mother Russia!?
I spent 2.5 years in Russia, I speak Russian, I have a degree in Russian, and by and large Russia has a special place in my heart. I’m not Russian by birth but I still love it and is another reason the anti-gay violence and rhetoric is so painful to watch. I wrote this post, took a photo and sent it to Children 404, which they later posted.
The translation of what I said is:
The link to this page is here.
I don’t know what else I can do. Boycotting the olympics won’t end the hatred and violence, boycotting Russian vodka won’t either. Something is bound to change, but when? And how?