Things That Matter

Here’s How A Group Of Activists Secretly Broke The Homophobic Law Banning Gay Propaganda In Russia

While LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way in recent years, there are still so many countries in which the gay community is subject to persecution and even death. At least 10 countries have the death penalty if you are found to be homosexual including Sudan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

In Russia, the current host of the World Cup, being gay isn’t a death sentence, but promoting it is illegal. Russia has strict laws about “the promotion of homosexuality” and waving the iconic rainbow flag is one of them. Being found guilty of spreading gay propaganda in Russia could land foreign visitors in jail for up to 15 days before being deported. But a group of LGBTQ+ activists used their time, and jerseys, at the World Cup to defy the law.

Six activists, four from Latin America, are bringing awareness to LGBT rights by displaying the rainbow flag in a very subtle way.

CREDIT: Twitter/@harleivy

The group is part of an organization Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGTB) that invited six activists from all over the world to highlight the discriminations against gays that are still going on today.

“Because of this, we have taken advantage of the fact the country is hosting the World Cup at the same time as Pride Month, to denounce their behavior and take the rainbow flag to the streets of Russia,” the group said on its website. “Yes, in the plain light of day, in front of the Russian authorities, Russian society and the whole world, we wave the flag with pride. How? In a way that no one would ever suspect. Football shirts.”

The six activists have been posing all over Russia wearing football shirts that fall in line with the rainbow flag colors.

CREDIT: Instagram/@lolamullenlowe

The colors includ the countries of Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, and are worn by Marta Márquez, Eric Houter, Eloi Pierozan Junior, Guillermo León, Vanesa Paola Ferrario, and Mateo Fernández Gómez.

Last year Alexei Smertin, a Russian soccer official, had said that the LGBT flag would be welcomed during the World Cup, however, that has not been the case.

“There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia,” Smertin told The Guardian last year in anticipation of the World Cup in Russia. “It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings. The law is about propaganda to minors. I can’t imagine that anyone is going to go into a school and propagate that way to children.”

But that ordinance has not been followed. The video above is proof of that, and last month a Gay Rights activist was arrested when he expressed outrage of how the gay community was treated in Russia.

While the project — titled Hidden Flag — looks really amazing, at least one activist says he was really scared about what could happen if they got in trouble.

CREDIT: Twitter/@harleivy

Gómez, wearing the Colombia jersey, said the whole experience was not as fun as it looks.

“I was scared shitless,” he said on Instagram. “Still I was in Russia only for 3 days, of which I spent 15 hours retained in customs in the airport. But now I’m free to be myself. In Russia people don’t have that basic right.”

He adds that “out of this scary, marvelous, cool, humbling experience” he was able to meet five activists that he is now bonded with for life. “I got to meet what I can now call my gay/straight brothers and sisters in arms. Beautiful, good hearted, strong people. 3 days with you keeping the flag in order always being last in everything, taught me more than a life time of what I can now call gay privilege.”

See more pictures by clicking on #TheHiddenFlag.


READ: The LGBTQ+ Flag Just Got Updated And Its Generating Mixed Responses

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Gay Men Took Over #ProudBoys On Twitter And The Results Are Exactly What We Needed Right Now

Things That Matter

Gay Men Took Over #ProudBoys On Twitter And The Results Are Exactly What We Needed Right Now

@CarlosGSmith / Twitter

Although social media is so often ridiculed for being filled with self-obsessed, attention-seeking content, for the past few days its been filled with messages of love and compassion.

Over the weekend, the words Proud Boys took on a whole new meaning as gay men flooded Twitter with messages of love and acceptance using the hashtag #ProudBoys.

This has caused two very different groups of men to face off on the same hashtag: the far-right cadre known as the Proud Boys—and the thousands of gay Twitter users who flooded that platform with pro-LGBT images, marking those posts with #proudboys. 

Tens of thousands of gay men have taken over the #ProudBoys on Twitter and the actual Proud Boys are pissed.

#ProudBoys, which members of the hateful, far-right group have been using, was trending over the weekend after tens of thousands of gay men on Twitter hijacked it and flooded the feed with photos of their loved ones and families and with memes.

The celebration of LGBTQ pride was a clear attempt to drown out voices of the far-right group with the same name, which made headlines after getting mentioned by President Trump during last week’s first presidential debate.  

“Let’s replace the hashtag with images of love, positivity and true PRIDE,” tweeted Carlos G. Smith, an openly gay member of Florida’s House of Representatives. 

Many tweets attached to the trending hashtag showed photos of couples who had been together years or decades — at their weddings, posing with their children, marching in pride parades or just looking happily in love.

At least one of the many tweets from gay men using the #ProudBoys hashtag referenced Trump’s debate words. “We will never stand back and stand by! Together for 25 years with two amazing children,” Dan Ort-Patrick wrote

It seems that we can thank actor George Takei for the brilliant takeover idea!

The hashtag takeover appears to have originated with Star Trek star George Takei, who wondered aloud Thursday what would happen if gay men tagged themselves as #ProudBoys on social media. 

“What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys? I bet it would mess them up real bad,” Takei tweeted.

The Proud Boys – a racist, hate group – began trending last week after Trump refused to denounce their actions and beliefs.

The Proud Boys group entered the mainstream conversation last week after Donald Trump seemed to call them to action at the first presidential debate. During an exchange between Trump and moderator Chris Wallace about white supremacists, Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Following the debate, members of the group celebrated Trump’s reaction, using “stand back” and “stand by” in their logo and posting videos from the debate with the caption “God. Family. Brotherhood.”

The Proud Boys referenced in the debate are “self-described ‘western chauvinists’ who adamantly deny any connection to the racist ‘alt-right,’ insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an ‘anti-political correctness’ and ‘anti-white guilt’ agenda,” according to civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center. The SLPC maintains, however, that the group, founded in 2016, affiliates with extremists and is known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.  

All sorts of people showed their support – even the Canadian Armed Forces.

The official Twitter account of the Canadian Armed Forces in the United States took part, too, tweeting a picture of two men kissing—one a corporal named Brent Kenny—with #proudboys.

“Love is love,” the group wrote in a reply tweet. (It was perhaps not a surprising piece of activism from an institution that describes itself in its Twitter bio as: “Nice people. Maple syrup.”)

The Canadian Navy’s Twitter account later retweeted the image, as did the account for the ship that Kenny sailed on, the Winnipeg.

Couples from around the world got in on the viral hashtag to help spread love, not hate.

So many couples shared their wedding photos, images of their families, pictures from their first date, and so much more – to help deliver a takeover of a hashtag so often used to spread hate.

Gay men shared their pride in themselves, their community, and in their love.

But back on Twitter, it was all love and rainbows, with Takei expressing gratitude for the enthusiastic response to his idea.  

“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now,” he tweeted Sunday along with a photo of him and his partner. “And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”

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Women Of Color Are Talking About Being Made To Feel Isolated By Their Family’s Ignorance And It’s Pretty Heartbreaking

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Women Of Color Are Talking About Being Made To Feel Isolated By Their Family’s Ignorance And It’s Pretty Heartbreaking

David McNew / Getty

Being our most honest selves around family can, no doubt about it, be extremely difficult. Add family dynamics, expectations, and Latino culture into the mix and things get quite a bit murkier. And while, not all families have a hard time accepting their children as they are, there’s no denying that children who are LGBTQ struggle to be accepted more by their family’s than others. According to Equality Florida, “when asked to describe the ‘most difficult problem facing them in their life these days,’ LGBTQ+ Latino youth most often cited three issues related to their LGBTQ+ identity: lack of acceptance by parents and family, fear about being out or open, trouble at school, including bullying.”

A recent post on Reddit asked women of color who are lesbians to share their family experiences.

The responses were not only extremely enlightening but particularly heartbreaking.

Check them out below.

This woman who feels constantly judged.

“Kind of late to this post but yes. I am a Latina Lesbian and we do not talk about sexuality in my family. My family knows but it is never mentioned. I moved out out my families house 5 yrs ago but every time I go visit for the holidays, the elephant in the room is there. The “when are you having children, getting married, boyfriend etc.” All I can say is do not feel pressured. You do not have to give up your happiness or yourself to please your parents. I am constantly judged by my family for my actions, but id rather be myself and be happy. It’s a tough battle but worth it. When I moved out I moved with the excuse of moving for a work promotion. So do you, do what makes you happy.” – eltorres27

And this chica who feel pressured by the expectations of her family.

“Yeah, my mom is an immigrant to this country (the US) and feels it would be disappointing to have the family lineage end with me. Like, she came here to start something new and I’m gonna end it. Truth is, I do want kids but may never have them due to my career goals. And that has nothing to do with my sexuality.” – Baegz_

This woman who finds her parents struggle more with her amazing partner.

“Yeah I’m Egyptian so I super feel you. I’ve been telling my parents for years before I came out that I didn’t want kids. And now I’m married to a trans woman… So things have been strained. I think the end goal is working through your own shame and judgment so that theirs doesn’t affect you as much. Also, I’ve been delving back into my culture (ancient Egypt), and while there’s always pressure to have kids (so that humans survive), they had no issues with being gay. It’s been really amazing connecting to that part of my culture so I don’t feel so isolated.” –curlyhairedlesbo

This chica who resolved her issues with her family by running away.

“Wish I didn’t understand this kind of pain, but I do. My family wanted me to go to uni, find a man (possibly rich), have 3 (possibly) male children, and go from there to being a happy family as a stay at home mom. My solution? Running away with my gf at age 19, settling down, get engaged, and still not have the balls to block my family on social media even when they retweet/share conversion therapy ads. If only I was as brave as some other people out there- my wonderful girlfriend included. I just run away all the time and it hurts. I don’t know what to do or say whenever my relatives confront me, and I haven’t talked to my parents in years. Thank god Angelika is with me. Otherwise? I don’t really know, nor I want to think about it. Hope you get thru this difficult part of your life. I love the life I have now, we have a dog for heavens sake. A dog! Haha. Never felt more at peace at home than now. It will get better. Trust me.” –Maki_san

This woman who finds any self-expression difficult.

“I’m middle eastern and it’s a huge expectation (I’m expected to not move out until im married) and any self-expression that doesn’t fit the norm is considered shameful for me & my family :/ being a POC lesbian is hard.” – stupididiotdumbassb

This woman who dreams of a life with a wife despite her family’s restricting expectations.

“Not a lesbian im newly bi but my family expects me to get an education get married and be a housewife. Anything i try different from the norm gets shit on. But honestly, i lowkey dream of having a wife sounds so pretty and romantic.” –56hej027sn10

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