Friday, March 15, 2013

Stephen Fry Meets Russian Gays, Promotes 'Coming Out'

Last month, I blogged here and here about out British actor and activist Stephen Fry traveling to Uganda because he's making a documentary about LGBT people around the world, and the oppression they face.

This past week, he was freezing his butt off in Russia interviewing homophobes and meeting with gay advocates, getting it all on videotape. In both countries, he skillfully used his celebrity status to give visibility to matters dear to him including gay human rights, animal and environmental protections, and atheism.

While in St. Petersburg, Fry went to the office of the Coming Out organization and met with the staff and volunteers who are providing social services to LGBT Russians and bravely push for political changes. A few Coming Out folks posed with him, pictured, and a portion of their banner is visible on the right side of the photo.

Polina Andrianova, the leader of Coming Out, had this to say after she met Fry: After adoption of the "propaganda" law, LGBT people of St. Petersburg experienced more violence, aggression, and intimidation. In the name of protecting kids, this law violates the rights of young people to information. Teachers can no longer condemn homophobic bullying, same-sex families raising children fear repercussions of this law every day. Support from respected and loved people like Stephen Fry is doubly important to inspire and encourage LGBT people to continue standing up for their dignity.

The actor was very liberal in his praise of the people he spent time with: Although I've been horrified and angry at the brutish tyranny of the many homophobic people who are supported by the government, what has touched me much more has been the work of the  courageous LGBT activists. Those who stand up to bullying, stand up to homophobia, stand up to name calling, stand up to violence. They do so, because they are proud of who they are. They have the dignity and all the rights that any human being should have. And in time, all of Russia will know that too.

At his Twitter account, Fry modestly reported that the local media had some interest in him and his agenda, and at one point he held a press conference that was quite well attended, pictured.

It makes me so happy to see Fry feeding two birds with one seed, when visiting Uganda and Russia, and probably the other countries where he is filming for his documentary. He has an impact as a proud gay celebrity who attracts much press coverage, and he shows solidarity and expresses deep concern with local LGBT people when he interviews them.

We sure could use a few more LGBT celebrities putting their stardom to good use like Fry is doing.

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