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Surrounded by Russian speakers, many are haunted by past traumas, and often have trouble shaking their own internal homophobia. At a twenty-five person RUSA meeting the week after the election, Gorshkov again proposed a parade.When RUSA LGBT’s Gorshkov first proposed the idea of a pride parade in Brighton Beach at a RUSA meeting in 2015, very few were interested. And, once more, the response was underwhelming — only five members were enthusiastic.He tried to protect his brother, ordering him to flee the scene. Five years later, Artem moved to Moscow, where life as a gay man was easier than it was in Siberia. In April 2015, three men followed him home from a gay nightclub and beat him senseless in front of the lobby to his apartment building, screaming, “You’ll die here tonight, faggot.” He escaped with a broken nose, broken ribs, and several hematomas.
In 2013, the State Duma (the Russian legislative assembly) passed a law prohibiting the “propaganda” of “nontraditional” sexual relations to minors.
With Smirnov’s story out in the open, people felt they had something concrete to rally against.
In late March, the parade’s supporters had gathered enough willing participants to set a date.
According to Nina Long, co-president of RUSA LGBT, and one of the organizers of Brighton Pride, the incident resonated.
“It really hit home that you live in New York but at your place of employment in Brooklyn you can be powerless,” she told me.When he started working as a bus boy at a cafe in nearby Manhattan Beach, he soon had to quit because of snide remarks and emotional abuse from a homophobic manager.Though the owner of the cafe is gay-friendly, Artem decided to keep quiet about why he was quitting. He would have talked to her and it would have just made things worse,” he told me.This has created an atmosphere of impunity, resulting in severe spikes in homophobic crimes, and causing large numbers of Russian LGBT people to flee the country.