My name is Keith Brooks. I’m a communications specialist from Louisville, Kentucky and I volunteer with the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) human rights organization based in the city.
I’ve been following the crisis in Russia for the past year. In 2012, I learned about Moscow Pride being banned for 100 years by the country’s top court. Sadly, the country’s progress since the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993 has taken a rapid and dark turn.
The situation has become increasingly worse. This year, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a federal bill that prohibits the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. This means that it’s literally illegal to even talk about being gay at all, or risk paying a costly fine.
Local gay rights activists and groups are suffering financially because of their refusal to classify as “foreign agents,” a derogatory term that has raised concerns of human rights groups.
Neo-Nazis are using social media to target LGBTQ youth and torture them.
And the media isn’t helping either. A highly-regarded journalist stated on Russia’s second largest TV network that gays were “unsuitable for a continuation of life.” The comments from this video, as repulsive as they were, are the inspiration behind this project.
They need our help. They need to know that their struggles are not invisible and that their livelihoods matter. More than ever.
How can you help? It’s easy:
• Submit a photo. Click the “Submit A Photo" link at the top of this page or email a photo, which will be posted to the website.
• DONATE. Using PayPal, transfer your donation to the account firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to make a relatively big donation, please email them at the same address — they can provide you their bank account directly.
• Use the #respectallrussianlives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and websites.
• Learn more about the Russian LGBTQ community and organizations. You can also like the GayRussia and the Russian LGBT Network Facebook pages.
There’s current actions about how to address this issue, including a possible boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Please note that this is only one of many efforts gearded toward supporting the LGBTQ communities in Russia; This project is about raising awareness and giving a voice to Russians who have been silenced.
Guys, I’d love you more than anything if you followed this project. I just created an account on Twitter, and Margaret Cho has already retweeted it. Please reblog and share this — our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Russia need our support, more than ever.