How on Brighton Beach passed the second Pride of the Russian-speaking LGBT community in New York
On a sunny Sunday, the twentieth of May, over the famous promenade, where people like to sit admiring the ocean, “our people” are young and old, rainbow flags shot out and unusual speeches were heard. “Homophobia is a terror”, “This looks like democracy looks like” - a crowd chanting, where Americans and Russian-speaking immigrants mixed from all over the post-Soviet space.
The familiar and already funny slogan “Sausages Enough for All” became a landmark for the Brighton Beach Pride, organized by the efforts of the initiative group of asylum-seekers and immigrants RUSA LGBT. About 500 people came to support the idea of a pride in a landmark Russian region. Why do we need Brighton Beach Pride? And whether we need it, we asked the organizers, participants, friends of the community and passers-by.
Alexey Gorshkov, vice president of RUSAL LGBT, founder and inspirer of the Brighton Beach Pride, notes that this Pride was more numerous and dynamic this year. He is also pleased that the number of Russian-speaking LGBTIK participants has increased.
“We didn’t meet any negative attitude from those around us,” says Alexey, who was the frontliner of the column. - Many greeted us and danced. Residents of Brighton have already heard about Pride, and therefore, the path to dialogue is open! This is the main goal of Pride - to reach out to local residents, letting them know that we came not with a sword, but in peace! "
The pride began at noon on Coney Island, amid rides and holidaymakers strolling with children past rainbow flags and people with stickers on clothes that represent the letter Q in a multicolored circle. For the first half hour, people organized and greeted each other, and for passers-by, apparently, they looked like an ordinary group of people who are busy with something of their own. The bright sun was shining, and the first good weather of the week might have also distracted the locals from what was happening.
For A., a trans-man from a small Russian town, this Pride was the first:
“A year ago, I could not even imagine that I would find myself in the center of the Pride, in the center of the Russian-speaking pride. Brighton Beach Pride was the first in my life, I am very glad that I became a part of it. Part of the struggle for freedom, for the right of self-expression, for the right to be who you want, and not to hide it, - says A. - I think that this Pride does not act on the principle of "showed themselves-changed their opinion", Pride says that we are, we live among you, and you have to come to terms with it, even if you don't like it.
After all, most of the Russian-speaking community does not believe that there are LGBT people among them. I think that this Pride was useful for everyone.
For community representatives - to show and express themselves, for viewers - to draw even the slightest conclusions from what they saw. I hope that Brighton Pride will become an annual tradition and will be positively received by the society. "
Graduate student Sasha arrived in America in 2012 year. For her, the Brighton Beach Pride is first of all an event that unites people. The first thing she started to do after the move was trying to find a Russian-speaking community in New York. At first, her searches were unsuccessful:
“I found Mitap RUSA LGBT, but there were about 50 people there, and as a result I didn’t even get there, because there wasn’t any movement, there weren’t any meetings. And everything is stuck. And then people began to come, they became more and more, I crossed with one person, with another .... and I was so glad that everything was changing, and we now have a community! So when Lesha announced last year that there would be our own Brighton Pride, I thought, oh, we must go! And she went, and then she went this year too, and she is very happy about it. ”
Kirill from Kyrgyzstan did not hit the Brighton Beach Pride last year, but this year he came:
“Every single person participating in this Pride is part of its origin. This is just the second Pride here. Therefore - who are we if not history? And this is great! I promised myself that I must finally go, because I too am part of the community and part of this story. " Kirill loves meetings of the Russian-speaking LGBT community, but it did not work out with the “ordinary” community.
“Many times I have come across the type of narrow-minded Russian-speaking people, they are very aggressive, they have no understanding of a person. They believe that LGBT people are something bad, foreign and inhuman. They just try to keep people out of the way. By doing Pride in Brighton, we will be able to show these people that we are just like them. "
American Vernon, a resident of New York, has supported the Russian LGBT community since the so-called propaganda law was passed in Russia in 2013:
“Brighton Beach Pride for me is the resistance to the hypocrisy, homophobia and transphobia that still dominate living on Brighton Beach. It was a wonderful experience to go along with other allies of this Pride in order to support my LGBT brothers and sisters. ”
Anton (29 years), who arrived in the US from Belarus, did not go to the Brighton Beach Pride. Why? He believes that this format is inconvenient and not particularly interesting:
“Until last year, I had never attended prides, and I decided - I'll go to Brighton Beach Pride (the first, in 2017 - author's note), and to New York (which takes place in June - author's note), I'll see , as it happens, - says Anton. - As a result, after New York Pride I was so tired that I didn't even go to the afterparty. To be honest, I don't quite understand why all this is needed. Not that I am against the idea itself, but on my own I would not go here or there. This format - you walk and walk without any sense - it's not mine, I like parties and parties more. "
It should be noted that many in the community were waiting for a more aggressive reaction to the procession.
“They will beat us,” the people said. Of course, each Pride is without fail accompanied by police, and the day before the marshals controlling the convoy received special instructions on how to act in case of attacks or provocations.
The first provocation happened even during the construction: a man passing by tried to hit the last marshal, he did not stand up for an answer ... The incident was brief, but left an unpleasant impression. Nevertheless, he was the last: in the course of the movement, instead of angry cries, laughter was mainly heard, while people waved from the windows, smiled and filmed what was happening on the mobile phone cameras. Despite the good weather and the abundance of the walkers - in contrast to the previous Pride, which passed under a drizzling rain at an almost empty boardwalk - there was no aggression.
It is noticeable that the general atmosphere has changed: at the Tatiana restaurant, where last year a certain visitor showed himself aggressively towards the Pride, crowded, if not friendly, then at least interested visitors.
Not everyone, however, really understood that this was a gay pride, and not just a fun event. For example, pensioner Alena Evgenievna, resting on a bench, said that she was not very interested in what was happening: “I like it more when you can walk calmly, look at the ocean in silence. But here there are always different holidays, cyclists ride, especially in the summer - not crowded. And there are many tourists. It would be better, of course, not to have them, ”the woman shared.
A middle-aged man carrying a stroller refused to give his name, but clarified that "I heard about what is happening" and "Trump must stop this disgrace." Not far away is a group of men on benches. “Let them go, don't bother anyone and don't bother me,” says one of them, Ivan. “I don’t think it’s abnormal or there is a disease. We are all human in one way or another. "
When the march stopped, everyone surrounded the bench, which became an improvised tribune. Speakers got up to it in order to give a short speech in such “hiking” conditions.
Among those who came to support the Russian demonstrators were Sharon Kleinbaum, the chief rabbi of the liberal synagogue of the CBST, judges of the civil court of New York Elena Baron and Odessa Kennedy, Matthew McMorrow from the office of the mayor of New York.
While the invited guests were talking about freedom and equality, an elderly man walked around the perimeter of the groups of demonstrators, saying relatively friendly that he was not against gays. Nevertheless, grandfather insisted that gay people were gay, but gay marriage could not be allowed!
Elena Kostyuchenko, a journalist and activist from Russia, notes that as a percentage of Americans and Russian speakers, there were 50 on 50, and maybe Russian speakers, even a little less:
“It's good that the Americans are showing solidarity,” says Elena. - When I was at various meetings of activists and public figures, I often hear people talk about Russia, and it's cool. I am glad that judges, a rabbi and so on came to Brighton - this is important! The guys themselves are very cool, for many it was the first action, and I think it is important to have the experience of entering the first action without the risk of getting hit in the head. "
However, not everything seemed to her rosy:
“I did not like the fact that the speeches were not translated into Russian. Brighton Beach is a Russian-speaking community, and the main point of the action was to establish contact with local residents. But many people I interviewed did not always understand what was happening, because the chants were also in English, and the older generation did not associate rainbow flags with anything. And words like queer, LGBT are not clear to them. And all the speeches were in English. So it is not entirely clear to whom the action was ultimately directed. What's more interesting is that most Pride participants have never lived in Brighton themselves. ”
At the very end, an adorable cat on a leash invaded the crowd. Everyone liked the cat - the demonstrators stroked it in several hands at once. The hostess Lena, walking a little with her pet between rainbow flags and slogans, smiling, said that she was sure: everything is correct, at Brighton Beach Pride everything is going as it should. “People have the right to express how they want to position themselves in this world,” the woman added.
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