Vulnerable to persecution in Russia and other states in Eurasia, Russian-speaking members of the LGBT community are starting to make their voices heard in the city with the largest Diaspora population in the United States, spreading a message of tolerance and inclusion.
A crowd waving rainbow flags and signs in English and Russian with slogans like “We are queer, we live here” and “Homophobia isn’t kosher” held a rally in late May on the boardwalk in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, the traditional hub of the Russian émigré community in New York City.
The event was the first-ever pride march organized specifically for Russian speakers in the United States: the number of participants was estimated at about 300. A series of speakers—including Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen and New York City’s public advocate Letitia James—addressed the audience, expressing support for the Russian-speaking LGBT community.
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Masha Udensiva-Brenner is a freelance writer and editor in New York. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, the New Republic, and Tablet. Maria Mammina is the Digital Content Editor at EurasiaNet.org and a freelance photographer.