Adam Polaski

Moscow Pride Revitalizes Talk of Community Alliances

Filed By Adam Polaski | May 31, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Dan Choi, gay rights, Moscow, movement, Nikolai Alexeyev, Russian LGBT people, Tim Wall

Alexeyev.jpgAfter another foiled march for gay pride in Moscow, which resulted in the assault and arrest of over a dozen participants including American Dan Choi, LGBT rights activists are again discussing why Russia's encountered such roadblocks to hosting pride events.

A new editorial in The Moscow News by Tim Wall suggests mismanagement by gay rights leaders in the country:

The strategy of Nikolai Alexeyev, the main organiser of Moscow's gay marches, to appeal for Russian authorities to obey European laws on equal rights but not to link up the struggle for equality with a wider alliance of social protest movements, seems to be coming unstuck.

Wall argues that sexual minority rights should not be a "ghetto issue," but rather, one that ties together the individual power of minority groups to effect change. As the leading face of the movement in Russia, Alexeyev's record of forging these coalitions is questionable - just a few months ago, his U.S. tour stops in California were derailed when he posted anti-Semitic comments on his blog.

Last week, homophobic comments prompted Alexeyev to walk off of a live talk show in his country. That opened up the floor to Yevgenia Otto, a feminist who was also a guest on the show. Wall says that Otto presents a much stronger picture of what LGBT advocacy should look like. Wall writes:

Rather than antagonising the audience, Otto pointed out how discrimination is used by elites to divide and rule, and cited examples of how united community action in the US changed attitudes there.

Some of this united community action is seen in the United States - in some cases, like winning marriage equality in Washington, D.C., racial and sexual minorities have found success in aligning and working together. But despite some progressive, community-minded opinions within the U.S. LGBT rights movement, much of the community has remained resistant to working together with diverse populations to achieve a common goal.

Here on The Bilerico Project, we've seen heated debates over the differences between advocacy for gays, lesbians, and trans people, as well as disagreements over immigrants' rights, prisoners' rights, and other work.

The need to break down these barriers and realize the importance of working together is not just an issue in Russia. It's an international need and a universal strategy for more effectively approaching a broad social justice movement.

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Well said, Adam. Advocacy for social justice cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. We must align ourselves with others seeking the same. Trying to achieve legitimacy by promoting only ourselves makes us into a "just us" movement, not a justice movement.