Come 11pm tonight and I shall be in tears. Angry, frustrated and horrified tears stoked by a sense of helplessness. Because I, like so many I know, will be watching Dispatches’ documentary Hunted and thinking there but for the grace of location go I. I’m lucky. I live in a society where the choices I make about the people I choose to love does not condemn me to a life of fear. I’m equal to all. I can skip joyously down an aisle, shimmy in a gay club or parade proudly on a street and know I am (relatively) safe. Russia’s LGBT community do not. Thanks to a deadly combination of government and religion, bigots fuelled with hatred are making laws that condemn a section of Russian society, fuelling the barbaric treatment of people just like us. Just like us. Queer or straight these are people just like us, who just want to live the life they choose with the partners they want. Gay teenagers terrified of the shadows. Gay and lesbian parents desperate for visas so their families can be safe. Protestors defying the state and risking jail sentences just to fly a rainbow flag we take for granted.
Of course there’s the chance that tonights Dispatches will just preach to the converted. Queers ringing hands at the horror of it all. Bigots pumping fists as they enviously watch the hunt. But if the decent take this opportunity, find a way to express our anger and disgust at those that allow Russia to treat their own like this then a change just might come. It won’t be instant and won’t be easy but if enough of us continue to make a noise something has got to give. Dispatches can provide the impetus, Sochi 2014 and the Russia World Cup in 2018 the opportunity. Lets make a bloody great big racket. A noise no sponsor, no MP, no EU minister or newspaper editor can afford to ignore.
Russian’s LGBTQ community are our neighbours. And they need us right now. However small or large the action you take will, combined with mine, and his and hers and theirs will make a difference. We’ve done it before. We can do it again. Lets ensure Pride remains both political and proud but also defiant as we demand freedom to live and equality for all. And lets become neighbourly, opening our hearts to the LGBTQ community of Russia to say we are here, right beside you. And we will remain so until, like us, your love is an equal right.
Between us we can convert our frustrated tears to something that will make a difference. You can email your MP and MEP and ask just what they are doing in the battle for equal rights for Russia LGBTQ – after all there’s elections coming and you have a vote to give, right? Campaign with Stonewall to ensure that once the Sochi spotlight has gone, the fight continues. Support All Out as they ask sponsors including Coca Cola and McDonalds how Russia’s anti-gay laws sit with their global image. (Sign the petition here). And share, share and share again Dispatches Hunted and Vice’s video Young and Gay In Putin’s Russia. The more people that know about the situation in Russia, the louder the noise we can make. There are 83 countries across the globe with anti-gay legislation. If we get Russia’s repealed, there’s only 82 more to go.