Last week I mentioned that Moscow officials had banned Gay Pride once again, citing security risks. Activists aren't having it. Andy Thayer, of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network, and Dan Choi have joined Russian activist Nikolai Alexeyev in Moscow for what promise to be some fireworks in defiance of the ban. Activist Louis-Georges Tim and Brit Peter Tatchell are also there. Gay Pride is scheduled for this weekend.
Pam Spaulding got a report from Choi on some TV action that went down earlier today.
Dan reports that he, along with about 20 activists from the U.S. and Europe attended Russia's version of Meet the Press. Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer and journalist Nikolay Alexeyev debated their version of Maggie Gallagher, and the opposition (anti-gay) side was stacked with government officials and a "sexologist" demonizing LGBTs.
According to Dan, the first two segments were very contentious; at the end of the second segment it became so heated that Alexeyev stormed off of the set (photo, above right, of Alexeyev after walking out) — actually damaging part of the set — and refused to come back for the third segment.
Instead, Alexeyev and all of the pro-LGBT attendees left the set and audience. This program aired live, so I'm sure clips will surface. Dan will have a report later; they are also planning direct action in protest of the cancellation of Pride by homophobic officials and it's likely there will be arrests.
UK Gay News is running a blog dedicated to Gay Pride in Moscow, and is keeping up with events there.
Said Alexeyev: "Next 48 hours will shape the future of Moscow Pride and LGBT community in Russia in general – and I am not joking."
Actor Ian McKellen has also released a message in support of the activists:
“The Mayor of Moscow is a coward.Rather than face the fact that Muscovite gays and lesbians should be valued on a par with their straight peers, he panders to the right wing. He throws them some red meat, some gays, to gnaw on. In the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher once did the same in the United Kingdom but she was eventually defeated totally by the efforts of gay people, their families and friends, who joined together to fight injustice. I send my heart-felt support for your bravery in marching on 28 May in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev and Nureyev."
LGBT Asylum News reports:
Far-right and Orthodox Church forces are planning a counter demonstration - approved by authorities – and already held one at the site last Saturday, delayed by rain, which one of the demonstrators blamed on the [Moscow Mayor] “Sobyanin lesbians.”
“We will drive them off!” Yury Ageshchev, coordinator of the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Russian Orthodox Church told Russian newspaper Kommersant.
“True, last year we had some issues with the police and there were arrests, but this time we will not give up. It’s going to get hot,” he threatened.
The office of the police chief has said "everything is ready to prevent [the gays] marching – and arrest them."
More to come, I'm sure…