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Gay Bars Across Globe Dump Russian Vodka

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Prompted by Dan Savage's recent op-ed urging people to boycott Russian vodka, gay bars in the United States and elsewhere around the world have started banning Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas. The goal of the boycott is to bring attention to the recent LGBT human rights violations in that country.

So far, bars in NYC, LA, Miami, Vancouver, Toronto, London, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and Sydney have all participated in the ban. In the photo above, the manager of The Fountainhead Pub in Vancouver dumps out a bottle of Russian vodka.

An article in today's LA Times reports on the growing campaign:

West Hollywood bars join a growing number of U.S. gay bars boycotting Stoli. Numerous Chicago bars have boycotted the vodka and other Russian products, according to the Windy City Times, a Chicago newspaper that focuses on the gay and lesbian community.

“Consumer action, for a long time, has been a part of any activism,” Art Johnston, the co-owner of the gay bar Sidetrack Chicago, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Sidetrack--in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, an LGBT hub–stopped selling Stoli earlier this week, Johnston said. The spaces on the bar where Stoli vodka bottles would sit remain empty so people will ask what used to be there, he said.

“I’m hopeful people will talk about this,” Johnston said. “Either the lives of gay and lesbian people in Russia mean something, or they don’t. Clearly, to us, they mean something.”

In case you missed it yesterday, the parent company of Stolichnaya, the SPI Group, responded to the ban via an open letter.

Sidetrack was one of the first gay bars to ban the sale of Russian vodka. They stopped selling it this past Wednesday. Watch a WGN-TV news segment about that bar and the boycott, AFTER THE JUMP.

Has your local gay bar stopped selling Russian vodka?

Continue reading "Gay Bars Across Globe Dump Russian Vodka" »


Stoli Responds To Boycott, Dan Savage Responds To Stoli

SPI Group letter
In response to the boycott organized by Queer Nation to dump Russian vodkas in protest of Russia's anti-gay laws, Stolichnaya's parent company the SPI Group released a statement pledging their support to the LGBT community: 

We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.

Dan Savage is pleased that this has gotten their attention, but notes that the gesture is not good enough: 

SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it's nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia?

Dan also points out that one of the commenters over at Joe.My.God. makes a very astute observation: 

So is the CEO of Stoli now subject to arrest and incarceration in Russia for writing this pro-gay letter?

Food for thought. Even though the CEO and company are based in Luxembourg, the company's owner Yuri Scheffler lives in Russia and the company's production process involves Russia, while this letter openly condemns the Russian government and explicitly supports homosexuality, thus making it "propaganda" under Russian law.


NBC Olympics Coverage Facing Controversy Over Russian Anti-Gay Laws

SOchi OlympicsRussia's newly-adopted anti-gay laws are already the subject of worldwide controversy. The laws have already been used to justify police brutality against Russian LGBT activists, as well as the imprisonment of advocates from inside their borders and beyond. LGBT advocates have called for the boycott of many Russian goods as a result. Many others have turned their sights to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, which will be taking place in the Russian city of Sochi. 

The International Olympic Committee has already told press that it will "work to ensure" that LGBT athletes from around the globe will be able to compete freely in the games without fear of any legal trouble. Many LGBT athletes have expressed their apprehension anyway. Other athletes and advocates have called for a boycott of the games by the United States and the IOC, including the likes of Harvey Fierstein and Dan Savage. 

Sochi-mapAll of this controversy is creating headaches for NBC Universal, who will be broadcasting across the U.S. and beyond. Comcast forked over $4.38 billion to secure that privilege through 2020. As a result, many advocates are turning their sights in NBC's direction, such as HRC President Chad Griffin, who wrote a letter to NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke saying that the network has a "responsibility to expose" the atrocities committed by Russia towards LGBT people. According to Buzzfeed, HRC hasn't yet taken a formal position on a potential boycott. Rather, Griffin states that...

"NBCUniversal … has a unique opportunity — and a responsibility — to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games."

He also added:

"You no doubt agree that it wouldn’t be right to air the opening ceremonies, which is an hours-long advertisement for the host country, without acknowledging that a whole segment of the Russian population — not to mention foreign athletes and visitors — can be jailed for an immutable aspect of their identity." 

NBC Sochi OlympicsNeither NBC nor Comcast have issued any comments on the Sochi Olympics controversy. As it stands, NBC Universal currently scores a perfect 100 on the HRC's annual "Corporate Equality Index", which grades various companies on their commitment to equality on a scale of 0 to 100. As was noted by Griffin in his letter, that perfect score could potentially be at risk should NBC choose to sweep this issue under the rug.

Should NBC eventually decide to boycott the games, as was noted by Variety, it would not be a first. 

"The mere mention of a boycott evokes memories of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, which the United States boycotted in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. NBC had paid $85 million for the rights but cancelled its live coverage."

Variety also pointed out that there was no boycott of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, which took place under the watch of the Hitler regime. Similar controversy also surrounded the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, which even resulted in the resignation of Steven Spielberg as a creative consultant. As was noted by Harvey Fierstein in his recent New York Times op-ed, "There is a price for tolerating intolerance." Chad Griffin echoed this sentiment to Variety, saying that “there is a skunk at the garden party that can’t be ignored.”

Read Griffin's full letter to NBC HERE...


Dan Savage: Why I'm Boycotting Russian Vodka

1374691438-dumprussianvodka_square_logo-1In an article posted to the Slog blog, Dan Savage addressed the recent spate of human rights abuses against LGBT individuals in Russia, arguing these offenses have become so egregious as to warrant action by members and allies of the LGBT community. Savage echoed the calls of others such as Harvey Fierstein who in a recent op-ed implored, "Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered?" The answer, according to Savage, is an emphatic and resounding, "no." However, assuming something should be done, what's the best course of action? There has been some debate as to how supporters of LGBT rights should go about responding to the violence and hate in Russia. Ruminating on a potential boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia, Savage points to Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Project, and his rejoinder to the question of an Olympic boycott:

"In 1968, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar refused to play in the Olympics as a protest against the treatment of blacks in America. The same year, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on a medal stand, gloved fists in the air, as a protest against the treatment of blacks in America. History remembers the athletes who showed up.... To send the strongest possible message of support to the LGBT community, we must send our athletes—those who are LGBT, those who are LGBT-supportive, those with LGBT family members or friends. Let them show that champions stand strong with their teammates and training partners. Send our openly LGBT and “publicly pro-gay” athletes and let them compete. Let them win. Show the world that there are elite LGBT athletes who are not afraid to be themselves, on and off the playing field. That the majority of the world’s finest athletes support their LGBT teammates, coaches, and opponents by treating them as equals in competition."

However, irrespective of the Olympics, Savage suggests a boycott of Russian vodka is a more effective and immediate way to stand up to Russia's thugish anti-gay actions, giving momentum to previous calls for a boycott. Savage writes,

Savage"There is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies in Putin's increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.

Here is a list of Russian vodkas currently available in the US: Dovgan, Gold Symphony, Standart, Hrenovuha, Kauffman , Kubanskaya, Moskovskaya, Narodnaya, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Putinka, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard, Shustov, Starka, Stolnaya, Youri Dolgoruki. The two best known Russian vodkas? Russian Standard and Stolichnaya.

If you drink a Russian Vodka like Stoli, Russian Standard, or any of the other brands listed above, switch to another brand from another country, or even a local brand from a local distillery. Stoli is the iconic Russian Vodka and it's returning to Russian ownership in 2014. Other brands like Russian Standard should also be boycotted. Do not drink Russian vodka. Do not buy Russian vodka. Ask your bartender at your favorite bar—gay or otherwise—to DUMP STOLI and DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA."

Savage also makes sure to point out that, despite what their wikipedia page might suggest, Stoli is in fact a Russian owned company and therefore a worthy target of the boycott.

Some have already begun to join the boycott. The Windy City Times reports that Sidetrack, one of Chicago's biggest gay bars, has stopped serving Stoli and other Russian vodkas. Another bar in Chicago, The Call, has joined the boycott as well.


Dan Savage Plans To 'Keep Inseminating His Husband And Keep His Fingers Crossed' For A Baby: VIDEO

Savage

Dan Savage stopped by Real Time with Bill Maher yesterday to discuss a bevvy of issues that comprise what Maher called this year's big "surge for 'gay.'" Referencing his article, "I Can Die Now," Savage spoke about the very real financial penalties, vulnerabilities and persecutions that gay couples face on a daily basis. He explained that for fifteen years he lived in constant fear of the huge burden his husband and son would face should he die, leaving exorbitant inheritance taxes not unlike those incurred by Edie Windsor. It was only when the Supreme Court ruled section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional that Savage felt a massive weight lifted off his shoulders.

The conversation, which in typical Real Time fashion, covered a broad swath of issues, next touched on Savage's adoption of his now fifteen year old son. At the implication that he and his husband could not biologically have a baby without some outside help, Savage remarked, "I'm always telling people who say two men can't make a baby, anything is possible for God. I'm going to keep inseminating my husband and keep my fingers crossed."

Watch Savage shine and make sure to tune in around the 2:46 mark as he shares his plans for procreation while Grover Norquist glares disapprovingly in the distance AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Dan Savage Plans To 'Keep Inseminating His Husband And Keep His Fingers Crossed' For A Baby: VIDEO" »


Dan Savage On The Risks Of Being Monogamish: VIDEO

DanSavage

In the latest installment of his "Ask Anything" videos for Andrew Sullivan's The Dish, Dan Savage divulges what he thinks is the most dangerous part about being in a "monogamish" relationship, that is, a relationship in which, "you're mostly monogamous, with a little squish around the edges."

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Dan Savage On The Risks Of Being Monogamish: VIDEO" »


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