Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BAR: 3 S.F. Russian Churches Silent on LGBT People

(Mike Hoban holding poster reading "Putin + Russian Church = Homo Hate!", left, and Ernest Camisa, right, at the Sunday action. Behind them is a man who spoke only Russian, and refused to identified himself, who aggressively taped the protest. Credit: Rick Gerharter.)

The Bay Area Reporter sent writer David Elijah Namhod to our protest at the Castro's Russian Orthodox Church, and he's filed a terrific story that is now online. Please read it in it's entirety. Here are extracts to whet your news appetite:

A protest outside a Russian Orthodox Church in the Castro last weekend went on as planned, but activists found the church closed, locked, and empty despite timing the demonstration to the end of Sunday worship services [...]

"Eleven o'clock is when they usually let out," protester Mike Hoban told the Bay Area Reporter. "What apparently happened is that the congregation got into cars and left at 9:30 a.m. The press and the police were appraised of our action – we were told this by a gay neighbor."

Two police officers stationed across the street from St. Nicholas Cathedral, 2005 15th Street, told the B.A.R. that they had no knowledge of the church receiving a warning about the protest [...]

According to a post by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, it was local church officials who gave police notice of the planned action, after reading about it on blogs. Church officials also informed Sergei Petrov, consul general of the Russian Federation in San Francisco [...]

A gentleman in a white shirt could be seen hovering near the front door of the church, speaking in Russian into a cell phone. He also aggressively photographed the protesters. When asked if he was affiliated with the church, he turned away and did not respond [...]

As [protester Don] Massey spoke, a voice from across the street could be heard shouting, "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Stoli vodka has got to go!" Chris Powers repeated the chant several times from his second floor window across the street from the church [...]

On Monday, August 26, the B.A.R. phoned Saint Nicholas' office. The woman who answered the phone hung up without a word as soon as the reporter said, "Bay Area Reporter."

The B.A.R. then put in calls to two other Russian Orthodox churches in San Francisco to ask them for a comment on the plight of the Russian LGBT community.

A man who answered the phone at Holy Virgin Cathedral, 6210 Geary Boulevard, said, "I can't talk to you now," then hung up.

A woman answered the phone at Saint Sergius of Radonezh, 1346 12th Avenue. "We don't have a gay community here," she said. "Thank you for calling." She also hung up.

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