An eye-opening video from Grani-TV in Russia, below, shows gay rights protesters being arrested in Moscow on October 6 for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s draconian crackdown against Russia’s gay and trans communities.
The activists were protesting, among other things, consideration of a new law that would take children away from gay parents.
The protest took place on a city street, with with marchers carrying a banner reading, “Hitler also began with the gays. No to fascism in Russia.”
The police swooped in and arrested the protesters under Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda law, which bans any public support of gay people or gay rights, in words or deed. (Ironically, a former top Russian activist, who now has outed himself as a virulently anti-Semite, claimed only a short while ago that the anti-gay propaganda law would never be implemented in practice. He’s been wrong about that point, repeatedly.)
What’s most interesting about the video is the crowd’s reaction, translated by the NYT. Basically, the crowd is upset at the police manhandling the protesters, until the crowd finds out that the protesters are gay. Then, it’s ok.
[T]he intervention of the bystanders begins when an older woman steps in and tells the officers, “You can’t act like that.”
She then turns to a man behind her and says, “Hey man, help out.”
The man, wearing a black hat and a leather jacket, then says: “Major. Officer. What did they do?”
A short time later, as the confusion continues, a female protester in a black jacket and a rainbow scarf explains to the woman and an officer, “We are protecting the rights of L.G.B.T.”
The officer asks, “What’s that?”
The protester replies, “Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders.”
The older woman asks, “You’re for them?”
The protester says, “We’re for them.”
The older woman says: “Ohhhhhhhh no. Then no.”
Another interesting event in the video was the reaction to the protester explaining to a woman that “we are protecting the rights of LGBT.”
The woman responds, “what’s that?”
I’ve argued repeatedly that the gay community has inned itself with its embrace of an ever-growing abbreviation that far too many people outside of our community have even heard of. Let alone the fact that the abbreviation changes on a nearly annual basis, so just as people start to become familiar with it, it changes again.
I’m reminded of the big immigration rally in Washington, DC, and nationwide, in spring of 2010. There was quite a large gay contingent that completely inned itself with it signage that never once mentioned the word “gay.” I will bet that very few people in the throng of one million who attended the march had any idea what “immigration equality” or “LGBT families” were.
It’s all well and good for liberals to have an inclusiveness streak, it’s what makes us fight for civil rights in the first place. But you can’t fight for gay rights if you’re afraid to say the word gay. Our community has pegged itself to the notion of “coming out.” We are strongest when we are visible. And we’re not visible when we hide behind ever-changing abbreviations that no one has even heard of. If people feel the need to say LGBT, fine. But throw in the word gay and trans occasionally, and bi too – because if you don’t, you’re doing all of them a disservice.