The August 25 picket, which was held to protest the Russian government’s continued crackdown on LGBT Russians, went ahead as planned with people holding a brief silent vigil to remember the LGBT citizens of Russia who were killed because of hatred, harmed by the anti-gay propaganda law, or now suffering because of the politics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and ROC Patriarch Kirill.
In June, the Russian government enacted its “anti-gay propaganda” law that bans any pro-LGBT statements or demonstrations in public or private and on the Internet. The Russian government has effectively made being openly LGBT and pro-LGBT a crime. That law has launched protests and boycott calls around the globe.
(The ABC affiliate KGO-TV ran a teaser and news note, mentioning they couldn't get a comment from the church.)
A gay neighbor came over and told the protesters that he had seen the rector and congregants leave the church roughly 30 minutes earlier and drive off to an unknown location. The church and the rector’s home were locked. There were no members of the church present at any time before or during the action.
After a short conversation between the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists and the police about keeping the sidewalks clear, the activists laid out their rainbow flags and posters.
Holding several rainbow flags and "Boycott Russian Vodka" signs, activists formed a human chain in front of the church. Turning their backs to the church, the moment of silence was observed.
Nathan addressed the plight of LGBT Russians and the need for the ROC to curb its dogma of stigmatizing and demeaning gays. Hoban said international LGBT solidarity was succeeding in staging protests for the past month at Russian embassies and consulates. Petrelis called for the repeal of Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws at the regional and federal levels. Sweeny promoted the Dump Stoli campaign and boycott of all Russian vodkas saying targeting Stoli was a powerful tool to build awareness.
Joining the American protesters were several gay and straight Russians whose last names are being withheld for confidentiality reasons. One gay Russian named Vladimir, who has resided in the U.S. for more than 20 years, conveyed his support for all efforts on behalf of Russian LGBT people.
Once the speeches, chanting, and moment of silence were over, lyrics to the gay anthem "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" were distributed. Everyone cleared their throats then raised voices in unison and sang this powerful song of love and dreams.The activities lasted for 45 minutes. An estimated 50 persons participated at some point in the action.
Here is the video of out action made by Peter Menchini. Many thanks to everyone who assisted in creating this action.