Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates and allies held a series of actions around Russia yesterday, from Moscow and St. Petersburg in the west, to Novosibirsk in Siberia to the east, to thank the international community for its vocal support over the past month.
The campaign is called “From Russia with love, and it’s awfully neat.
The Russians didn’t hold “protests” per se, because that would have been illegal. Rather, under the rubric of the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality, they gathered in a bit of a flash mob and photographed themselves holding “thank you” signs in various languages in front of various well-known Russian landmarks across Russia’s 9 time zones.
Among the cities that held actions: Arkhangelsk, Kazan, Moscow, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Perm, Saratov, St. Petersburg, Togliatti, Ufa, Vladivostok, Voronezh, and Yekaterinburg.
Coordinator of the event, Natalia Tsymbalova, explains:
We, Russian LGBT people and their allies, would like to thank all the people around the world who support us and express their concern about the events in our country in hope of making a difference and pulling Russia out of a tightening medieval darkness.
“We did not plan this flashmob as an action to attract public attention. It was a friendly get-together to make a photo-shoot in the open. Our posters did not carry political information: we just wrote words of gratitude without even indicating to whom and for what: those who we are sending our smiles and thanks to, will understand it anyway,” says Natalia Tsymbalova, the action organizer and coordinator of the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality.
“Despite police’s nervous attention and a few attempts to disrupt us, we are glad that we were able to finish our action and send our friends abroad our deepest gratitude – this is the least we can do now. Thank you for your support and solidarity! Spasibo!”
“Spasibo” means thank you in Russian.
As the coordinators note, things got a bit hairy when the police showed up at one point in St. Petersburg, but fortunately both sides handled themselves well and the photo shoot went off without a glitch.
The photos below are just a sampling of the various thank yous from various cities in various languages, including English, French, German, Greek, Spanish and more that I didn’t post, but are included on their Facebook page.
Now, will these photo event change the world? No. Will it empower more people inside and outside of Russia to do more to help in the future? Absolutely. It’s nice to be able to put a face to the people we’re trying to help. And it’s nice to see that Russia has a whole new generation of LGBT leaders on the horizon. This was just a really neat idea all around.