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As disheartened as I am that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to attack LGBT members in his country by a set of laws meant to corral them, arrest them and beat them, there is one thing I know, and that is gay people in that country will eventually win their ultimate freedom to be who they are. That is mostly because gay Russians have already tasted freedom, at least much more than they are now, and nothing is more addictive than freedom, which means there is no going back.

Back in 1969 at a small gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, a group of gay people decided they had enough of being singled out by police because they were gay and struck back against the brutality that denied them the same equal rights as every other American. It was fortunately enough to be newsworthy and before the night was over, the nation knew what had been going on for a long time by police, not only in New York but all across the nation, in all major cities.

Certainly, gay people and their supporters have been standing up and being arrested and it continues, but President Putin has not seen the last, nor has he seen the full fury of gay people across the entire expanse of the former Soviet Union, to rise up against his laws and his heavy hand of persecution.

During those same turbulent times of the 60s, African-Americans also rose up to demand their equal rights and hundreds of thousands of them showed up in Washington the day Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. The sheer volume of their numbers showed to the world that no longer would African-Americans lie down and allow the police or any other group of individuals or entity to roll over them and deny them simple human decency. They had suffered long enough at the hands of bigots and law enforcement and it was time for a change.

LGBT members and their supporters in Russia must now come together and show Russia and the world that gay people -- like African-Americans -- will not stand by and be persecuted, and forced back into the closet they fought so hard to leave behind. It will not be an easy road, but then, freedom and liberty never is. Many may suffer imprisonment and some may even die, but eventually, Putin will lose because he stands in the way of Russia's future, a future that will include the contributions of gay people, as it always has.

I do know one thing in my heart; if Russia managed to round-up every single gay person in Russia and put him or her in prison, the nation would suffer a great downfall and a loss of some of the most talented and gifted people. LGBT members contribute to all sections of society; they are artist, teachers, doctors and even lawyers; they are athletes and civil servants of all kinds; they raise kids and they give billions upon billions of dollars to worthy charities. We always have, even when the law and the fear of losing our jobs forced us to hide who we are. Hiding is no longer an option because silence is death; a lesson we learned so well during the AIDS crisis when we lost so many of our gay brothers to that horrible disease.

Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person elected to office on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors once said:

“Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.”

The gay people of Russia must do the same; they must stand up and be counted, and in great numbers, enough to tell President Putin and all of Russia that we will not go silently into the night, we are gay and we are proud to be gay because God made us this way. We will no longer hide in fear for our lives and our freedom but we will show that we are everywhere, in every nation and in every family; we are your brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles and your sons and daughters.

Many LGBT members in other nations, such as some of the nations in the Middle East, still face persecution, imprisonment and even death if they are discovered, but even their day will come, when they too realize they must stand up and be counted in great numbers. Because otherwise, brutal and dominant men like President Putin will continue to single them out and persecute them. Their freedom depends on breaking that silence in the face of great persecution.

I say to all my gay brothers and sisters, and to all their supporters in Russia, do not give up, do not be afraid, rise up, and be counted, because your numbers are great.

This is a republish from my website: Fidlerten Place

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, kevinpdx, Cassandra Waites

    Rule the Day, Let not the Day Rule You.

    by fidlerten on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:40:23 AM PDT

  •  Hasn't it had Stonewalls many times over? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsGrin, Lorikeet, fidlerten

    Hasn't this happened many times over in Russia already?  It's been nearly a decade since the first attempts at pride marches, since blockade/riots at Moscow bars, etc.  They have their movement, they have their leaders, they have their public demonstrations.  Public opinion has gotten progressively more negative.  

    I think the idea of Stonewall might be blurring the point a bit: Stonewall initially had little to no effect on how most Americans viewed the LGBT rights movement.  Newspaper coverage was abysmal and almost exclusively negative; older LGBT activists were disdainful; but it lit a fire under younger LGBTs to get active, to organize, and to start a nationwide movement.  All of these have happened (and are happening) in Russia many times over.

    I'm not trying to dismiss your diary here, because I understand the desire to motivate a movement.  But paradigms are only as useful as their context: the specific challenges Russians face, and the circumstances they're in, don't make for an easy transfer of ideas from decades'-old American movements.  They're doing their thing, and have been doing their thing for a while now.  It's sort of weird to say, "Hey, you have to rise up and do this, and it's probably going to hurt for a while, but it's for your own good." Much better to ask, "What are they already doing, and what can I do, even if in some small way, to be supportive?"  No?

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:27:51 PM PDT

  •  The gay-bashing campaign in Russia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fidlerten

    CAN be defeated, if one understands its roots and targets those who are really responsible (hint: it's not Stolichnaia).

    The homophobic campaign isn't deeply and innately part of Russian "national character"-- it's manufactured, and recently.

    A 2007 VTsIOM poll showed just 19% of Russians supporting the criminalization of homosexuality.
    But a June 2013 VTsIOM poll showed this had risen to 42%.
    And an August 2103 Levada Center Poll, perhaps reflecting Russians' response to the international outrage, showed 76% supporting the new anti-gay legislation.

    •  pico, I understand (0+ / 0-)

      what you're saying but Lanceboyle is right. Certainly, it looked like at first that the Stonewall incident was going to turn out to be just that; an incident. Same thing with Martin Luther King's Speech and the march on Washington. The most difficult time for the movement came after that speech. Dr. King became very discouraged that his Dream was not being fulfilled and it seemed the battle was lost.

      Probably what affected the African-American civil rights movement more than anything else was the death of Dr. King. And, though I hate to say it, death will end up being what moves the gay movement forward in Russia. We certainly have had ours in America with Matthew Shepard and all the many teen suicides and gay bashing that woke up the nation, which is and always will be, made up of decent people. It's the same in Russia.

      Hate is the product of igorance and fear-mongering. Every minority that seeks its rightful place in this world has to go through the fires that are stoked by the hand of the enemy. But out of the fire comes the bronze.

      Rule the Day, Let not the Day Rule You.

      by fidlerten on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:12:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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