Activism Hub




Activists Disrupt 'Stoli Guy' Pageant in NYC in Protest Against Russian Vodka: VIDEO

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ACT UP New York and Queer Nation activists disrupted another Stoli event last night protesting the promotion of Russian vodka. Stoli, which is produced by SPI group has denied that it is a Russian-owned company since it is based in Luxembourg and bottled in Latvia but has said that its ingredients and production are sourced in Russia.

Gay City News reports:

Five demonstrators affiliated with ACT UP New York and Queer Nation stormed the stage at Marquee New York in Chelsea at the start of the Most Original Stoli Guy national finale, which brought together the winners from competitions in 12 cities. Blowing horns and holding up signs with messages including “Dump Stoli,” the group –– Mark Milano, Brandon Cuicchi, Terry Roethlein, Piro Rexhepi, and Chris Kohler –– brought the show to a halt for about a minute, before they were dragged from the stage by the club’s bouncers.

As the men were hauled away, one of the evening’s hosts said, “We are very lucky to live in a country where we can speak freely.” The host added, “And one of the things we are celebrating tonight is the passion that is the Stoli brand, and that is passion.”

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

In July, another Stoli event at Splash bar was disrupted byt the same group of activists.

Continue reading "Activists Disrupt 'Stoli Guy' Pageant in NYC in Protest Against Russian Vodka: VIDEO" »


'Pride House' Calls on UN to Denounce Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 4.32.59 PMAn international coalition of LGBT sports and human rights activists have demanded that the United Nations take action to support LGBT people before the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

Pride House International is calling for the UN flag to not be flown at the games (as is the tradition), for the rainbow symbol to be protected (as well as all those who adopt the symbol), and for Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to denounce Russia's crackdown on LGBT people during the "Solemn Appeal for an Olympic Truce". 

In a press release, members of Pride House "expressed their dismay at the failure of the United Nations to make a clear statement against Russian anti-gay laws in their draft resolution for an Olympic Truce."

The Olympic Truce, a call for peace and understanding during the Olympics, hearkens back to the custom of ekecheiria during the ancient Olympics. It is now the practice of the United Nations General Assembly to approve a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce prior to each edition of the Olympic Games. Despite efforts by many in the United Nations, the resolution proposed by the government of Russia fails to include specific language against LGBT discrimination, and of course does not denounce the current situation of homophobia that imperils the principle of sport for all and sport as a human right during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games."

In August Pride House, in conjunction with other LGBT organizations, launched a protest campaign called the "Same-sex Hand-Holding Initiative" which, simply, calls on everyone (athletes, coaches, spectators, staff, etc.) to hold hands with members of the same sex as often as possible in Russia during the Olympics. The protest is an effort to bypass the Internationl Olympic Committee-sanctioned ban on more overt displays of same-sex support like kissing or rainbow paraphernalia. 

Towleroad reported last month on the IOC's coming out against pro-gay advocacy at the Olympics:

According to the report [released by Gay Star News, the IOC plans equate any displays of LGBT rights advocacy or solidarity with a "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda", which is prohibited by Rule 50 if the organization's charter. Those found in violation of Rule 50 can be subject to "disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned," without any sort of appeal. The IOC spokeswoman who spoke to Gay Star News did not specify if those found "in violation of Rule 50" would also be subject to any punitive action by Russian authorities. 

 


Russian Gay Rights Activist Feared Abducted Or Insane After Bizarre Facebook Posts

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Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev is thought to have either been abducted or to have gone crazy after a series of troubling status updates appeared on his Facebook wall this past weekend. Though his Facebook profile has since been taken down, furthering the suspicion that it had been hacked, Queerty has screenshots of some of his more bizarre posts and include him accusing Russian gays seeking "fake asylum", accusing friends of being pedophiles, and hating the West for being on par with Putin. Even more disturbing, So So Gay reports that photos of Alekseev in his underwear in a bunker were posted to his account before it was taken down under the album title "Kidnapping" with a status update referencing a "porno contract."

Activist and blogger Melanie Nathan is highly skeptical of the situation, and in a lengthy post compares his prior behaviors with the present situation. In the past, she has seen Alekseev become "unhinged" when people disagreed with his definitions of asylum and oppression, and that he holds the stance that gays should not leave Russia to flee their persecution. More damning is that the last time he was allegedly "kidnapped" he was in fact on vacation with his wealthy Swiss boyfriend, and anecdotal encounters with him in the U.S. have established that "unhinged" is his default setting.

This is a developing story, but regardless of the outcome, this is a setback for gay rights activism in Russia.


5-Year-Old Girl Defies Westboro Baptist Church, Sells Pink Lemonade For Peace And Love

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A five-year-old girl named Jayden Sink has set up a pink lemonade stand at Equality House, across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, to promote love and peace and defy Westboro's message of hate. The people of Topeka, Kansas have come out to support her, according to the Huffington Post:

Jayden-Sink"Jayden, who is from Kansas City, decided to set up her stand at the Equality House after her parents explained to her the significance of its construct. After being told that the church across the street had a message of hate, she set a goal of raising money to go towards a message of love and peace. 

So she painted a banner for the event reading, 'Pink Lemonade for Peace: $1 Suggested Donation.' She put the stand in the grass and waited. But the waiting didn't take long. Supporters came in by the droves and $1 turned into hundreds of dollars.

During the day, Westboro sent representatives outside to try and find a way to stop the event. They apparently attempted to call the local police and stooped to yelling profanities when that didn't work, like calling a group of soldiers who rode out on their motorcycles to suport the event 'bastards.'"

As you may recall, Aaron Jackson of Planting Peace bought Equality House and painted it the colors of the pride flag in March. The Westboro Baptist Church has previously expressed their elation at having what they call the  '"Sodomite Rainbow House" across the street from their HQ. Most recently, Westboro has attributed the tragic spate of tornados in Oklahoma to support for out NBA player Jason Collins.

In her first day Jayden raised $400 at her lemonade stand. She has also raised $5,547 online via Crowd Rise. You can contribute to her campaign here.

(images megan rogers)


Do-It-Yourself Rainbow Crosswalks Popping Up All Over Sydney in Response to Shameful Crossing Removal

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Yesterday I reported on the shameful action by NSW Roads and Maritime Services in Sydney, which stealthily removed a much beloved rainbow crosswalk in the middle of the night.

Now, rainbow crosswalks have begun springing up all over Sydney in response to the removal in a kind of chalk and paint revellion.

The do-it-yourself demonstration even has its own Facebook page.

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'United for Marriage' SCOTUS Rallies and Marches Now in 50 States: Find One Near You

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No matter where you are in the country on March 26 and 27, there is likely a rally or event to mark the Supreme Court's historic hearings on DOMA and Proposition 8.

Find or create an event of your own on the United for Marriage 'Light the Way to Justice' page. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

For New Yorkers, there is a march this weekend, on Sunday March 24 starting at 1 pm:

On Sunday, March 24, marriage equality supporters will march from the historic Stonewall Inn to Washington Square Park to express support and solidarity with those who fight for marriage equality across the country, and especially before the Supreme Court. At Washington Square Park, supporters will rally for freedom for everyone—including our gay and lesbian family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. The rally will feature flag dancers, singers, and speeches.

Marriage Equality USA, GLAAD, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Stonewall Democrats of New York City, Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens, Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, Equality Beyond Gender, New York State Democrats, NYC for Action, Dignity New York, Chelsea/West Village for Change,The Bronx LGBTQ Center, Heritage Of Pride, Henrietta Hudson,The LGBT Community Center, Manhattan Young Democrats, LAMBDA Legal, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Greater NYC for change, Shelter of Peace, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Camp Highlight, Democracy for New York City, NYU Law Democrats, Democracy for America, Empire State Pride Agenda, The Queens Pride Center, The Anti-Violence Project, AM 1600 WWRL, Imperial Court of New York, Montclair State University LGBT Center, Middle Collegiate Church, JQY, The Global Gender and Sexuality Project at The New School and The Stonewall Inn are together for this one.

Here's the Facebook page for that.


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