.      by N. S. S. Jacobs @Harvalan8008

RECENT UPDATES — July 20, 2017

The  US State Deaprtment has finally spoken out against the gay purge in Chechnya. To this we must thank the efforts of the members of the House who passed a resolution condemning the atrocities and the 53 politicians who begged 45 to do something.

We are proud to announce the upcoming Stilettos For Shanghai For Chechnya on So August 7 in the Castro Theatre, in San Francisco. Get your tickets here. So fiting that the production is right in Harvey Milk’s beloved Castro. Thank you to Sister Roma @SisterRoma for spreading the word.

We would also like to give a shout out for Inkbrew Productions @inkbrew for their film “Unchechen” for which tickets are still available for an 8/8 performance in Manchester, UK, near where Alan Turing last worked and lived.

We are also very heartened that Rita Ora @RitaOra, Ru Paul @RuPaul, Sam Bruno @LeSamBruno ‏and More have Joined  MTV @MTV in Educating People on Chechnya.

We thank VICE News @vicenews for providing a chilling report of what has been taking place in the prisons. and HBO @HBO for showing the world the cruelty of Chechnya’s leader, and GSN @gaystarnews for stressing that our L and T family are also endangered and for Novaya Gazeta @novayagazeta ‏ for releasing the names of 27 men murdered,  some of them teenagers, believed to be gay or bi as reported by Pink News @PinkNews.and lgbtnet @rulgbtnet for reporting on the resurgance of the persectution and Dazed digital @Dazed for offering concrete ways to help. Special praise must be given to Masha Gessen @mashagessen for outstanding journalism in this article for The New Yorker @NewYorker ‏.

This year’s Pride Season took on a more sombre tone for many as we acknowledged those  who did not have the freedoms we possess, with many marchers, often with Amnesty UK LGBTI @AmnestyUK_LGBTI, called attention to the plight of our Chechen family. This was especially the case at  Pride in London @LondonLGBTPride ‏ where Peter Tatchell @PeterTatchell and Ian McKellen @IanMcKellen ‏ were prominent and also at Isle of Wight pride @IWPride, Bath Pride , WSM Pride @WSM_Pride ‏ and many more. If you would like your Pride to be included here contact the author.

Others who have spread the word more generally include:

Benja Aquila

Maxim Eristavi @MaximEristavi

Megan Gackler

Bess Hepworth @bess_hepworth,

Omar Kuddus 

Simon Ware 

Wikimedia  LGBT 

If you or your group would like to be included here, please contact the author.

Harvey would surely wish us to keep our focus on gay rights everywhere.  He would urge us to stop being upset over variations on the theme of the rainbow flag, each of which no doubt serve some kind of function and focus instead where lives are at stake.  He would probably like this statement by Holocaust survivor Primo Levi:

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.

 

 Main Article

Today we speak of a cause that is near and dear to me and what I believe would also be near and dear to the beautiful hearts and minds of my favorite heroes Alan Turing and Harvey Milk: the vicious persecution of men in Chechnya for the crime of love.

Were they alive today, Harvey would be marching in the streets every day and Alan  would no doubt have used a third-generation algorithm to crack Russian and Chechnian military codes to gather critical intel.

This blog post celebrates the work of many noble workers for the cause, with a special focus on Twitter advocacy.

Until recently, much of the great activist work on behalf of our Chechnyan brothers has been situated outside the USA.  Pride of place goes to reporter Elena Milashina of Novaya Gazeta, who broke the story.

The work of the Russian LGBT network  @rulgbtnet  who worked on the ground to rescue men trying to escape, alongside the Toronto-based Rainbow Railroad @RainbowRailroad ‏remain the two most important groups to continue to support.

We also honor the decision of Lithiuana to welcome these men as refugees (touching since Harvey was Lithuanian Jew). There are also reports that a total of 5 countries have opened their borders.

We salute the incredible activism of Yuri Guaiana @yurigu and his colleagues in Moscow, as well as those brave activists who had a kiss-in opposite the Kremlin and a flash mob protest in St Petersburg.

A worldwide Instagram kiss-in also followed. (Check out also this special Russian LGBTQ kiss from 2014 at the World Championships.)

We especially salute the work of All Out @AllOut raising awareness and fundraising the world over, as well as sponsoring a successful 3-day protest in Berlin that prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to be the first world leader to speak out. It’s true, protests are that powerful. We must also praise ILGA-Europe @ILGAEurope who has done much to spread awareness as well as the Human Rights Watch @hrw

We also give special thanks to Grindr @Grindr which has done valuable work on the ground in Chechnya.

holgalaxy

But there is a shift, a rising outcry in the United States as well that is beginning to grow in momentum. We shall review briefly the great deeds done abroad to better contextualize the growing USA efforts.

The British Isles, whose finest hour was spent combatting tyranny, has certainly risen to the occasion. The London Russian Embassy was among the earliest to be the site of protest, organized by Amnesty International UK @AmnestyUK and Pride in London @LondonLGBTPride .

In England there have been  protests also in Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Derbyshire, Harrowgate, Leeds, Manchester (where Alan Turing last worked), Newcastle, Norwich, Reading, Sheffield, and York. And well loved British Celebrity Elton John @eltonofficial has spoken out early and strongly.

In Scotland: Edinburgh and Glascow

Northern Ireland: Belfast.

In Ireland: Cork, Dublin, Limerick.

Important fundraisers included special plays for Chechnya @chechnyaplays including Ian McKellen, @IanMcKellen  and  where activist Peter Tatchell @PeterTatchell ‏also partcipatesd. Here is a recent speech by McKellen.

Another fundraiser was showing of the film PARAGRAPH 175, created by Rob Epstein @Epstein_Rob ‏ also known for THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK and several fundraisers in Dublin, including Drag Aid for Chechnya.

The consistent advocacy of Milord Michael Cashman @mcashmanCBE has been particularly commendable as has that of Irish Senator David Norris @SenDavidNorris ‏ father of the Irish LGBT Rights Movement.

In this atmosphere of sustained protest and attention the members of the House of Commons, including Sir Alan Duncan @AlanDuncanMP stated their condemnation for the crimes of Chechnya and even the then current PM felt compelled to say something. Likewise Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan @CharlieFlanagan  spoke out.

PINK chechnya

France too, has spoken out including three LGBT groups appealing to the International Criminal Court, as well as President  Emmanuel Macron whilst still a candidate and also just now in a meeting with the head of the Russian regime and welcoming LGBT refugees into France.

And who was not blown away by the protest of the Cannes Queer jury?

Much thanks is due also to the European Rights Commission which paved the way for the European Parliament’s condemnation of the atrocities, especially MEP Seb Dance  who delivered this powerful message.

We also celebrate these European protests: Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Stockholm, Iceland. With gratitude we note those of Tel-Aviv including members of the far-right Likud party, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and in Australia: Durham, Melbourne, Sydney. With delight we mention a fundraising bake sale in Brisbane.

We especially call attention the noble efforts of Australian Senator Janet Rice@janet_rice and of Michelle Rempel @MichelleRempel in the House of Commons in Canada. We also thank Canadian politician Chris Alexander @calxandr for speaking out.

All of these efforts amongst others no doubt have led to the outcry by the UN Secretary General @antonioguterres ‏.

In the midst this powerful worldwide response the USA has also joined in. There was a fairly early protest at the Russian consulate in NYC organized by Caribbean Equality @CaribEquality .  A Jewish rabbi, Josh Lesser, of Congregation Bet Haverim @cbhatl ‏  was a speaker at a rally in Atlanta.

Other protests took place to match Europe Day on May 5, including a protest in Los Angeles organized by Jewish LGBTQ Temple BCC @BCC1972 ‏ and others organized as part of the HRC @HRC ‏ Eyes on Chechnya efforts.

On May 20th another important LA protest made the local news, organized by Jennifer Rivers @jenniferrivers in partnership with the LA LGBT Center @LALGBTCenter ‏ JQ International @JQInternational ‏, Friends of Project 10, and the World Congress of LGBT Jews.

Russian citizen and San Francisco resident Vitaly Atayev-Troshin organized a protest in Harvey Milk’s beloved city and to all appearances Curtin Jenson @curtisjunk ‏ had much to do with a specifically Castro protest. We can also expect further protests organized by the indomitable Ms Rivers and her partners. Please assist her efforts by signing this petition.

SINGYHEART

In the political realm, in the steps of Harvey Milk, it is essential to engage positively with any willing partner in this matter if that can help stop the camps.  In Canada that means working with LGBTory Canada @LGBToryCanada ‏ who have been very active.

In the US that means working with the Log Cabin Republicans @LogCabinGOP ‏who have reached out to the UN. Harvey once said that the gay community embraced all sides of the political spectrum and I think he would fight for them all and work with them if it would advance matters.

We especially commend the following politicians for speaking out: Joe Biden @JoeBiden ‏ who also wrote an incredible op-ed piece for the Washington Post.

We thank Marco Rubio @marcorubio who spoke out (video) both early and stridentl.

We are grateful to Hilary Clinton @HillaryClinton likewise outspoken (video) early on.

And we thank UN Ambassador Nikki Haley @nikkihaley as urged by GLAAD @glaad,  and who apparently got into some trouble for her efforts,

Much gratitude toSenator Benjamin Cardin @SenatorCardin  who spoke out about welcoming the men as refugees ‏and Whip Steny Hoyer @WhipHoyer ‏ who was also  outspoken, the  by all 100 senators who made an unanimous statement.

We thank  the members of the bipartisan House Committee who co-sponsored a bill on Chechnya:

Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen @RosLehtinen ‏ who took leadership in this venture.

Rep Eliot Engel @RepEliotEngel

Rep Chris Smith @RepChrisSmith

Rep Darell Issa @DarellIssa

Rep Ed Royce @RepEdRoyce

Rep David Cicilline @RepCicilline

We also call attention to the Bipartisan LGBT Caucus  @LGBTEqCaucus ‏ made up of LGBTQ Congresspeople and their allies. Harvey Milk would have loved this group. The Co-Chairs of the Caucus are the six openly LGBTQ members of Congress:

Rep David Cicilline @RepCicilline

Rep Sean Patrick Maloney @RepSeanMaloney

Rep Krysten Sinema @RepSinema

Rep Jared Polis @jaredpolis

Rep Mark Pocan @repmarkpocan

Rep Mark Takano @RepMarkTakano

Rainbow WHIRLPOOL

On May 17, IDAHOT  (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) @may17IDAHOT ‏ Caucus members encouraged their colleagues to speak out. Among those speaking out were committee members:

Rep Ted Lieu @RepTedLieu

Rep Jan Schakowsky @janschakowsky

Rep Jamie Raskin @RepRaskin

Among those who spoke out on Twitter, some with personal videos, were:

Senator Ed Markey @SenMarkey

Senator Chuck Schumer @SenSchumer

Rep. Nydia Velazquez @NydiaVelazquez

Rep. Ro Khanna @RepRoKhanna

Rep. Adriano Espaillat @RepEspaillat

Rep. Alan Lowenthal @RepLowenthal

Rep. D. Wasserman Schultz @RepDWStweets

Rep. Seth Moulton @sethmoulton

Rep. Mike Quigley @RepMikeQuigley

Rep. Tony Cárdenas @RepCardenas

Rep. Pramila Jayapal @RepJayapal

Rep. Jackie Speier @RepSpeier

Rep. Brad Schneider @RepSchneider

Rep. Dan Kildee @RepDanKildee

Rep. Lois Frankel @RepLoisFrankel

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke @RepYvetteClarke

Rep. Bill Foster @RepBillFoster

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman @RepBonnie

Others who have spoken out in one way or another include:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen @SenatorShaheen

and both Senators from California, including

Senator Kamala Harris @SenKamalaHarris who gave a statement to be read at the May 20 LA Chechnya rally

and Harvey’s former colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein @SenFeinstein ‏ who posted her response to a town hall question.

a-waterfalls-view-of-a-rainbow

Other helpful US organizations includes the  Human Rights First @humanrights1st ‏which has heard direct testimony from these men,  the  Holocaust Museum @HolocaustMuseum ‏ and the Anne Frank Center @AnneFrankCenter both of which have made powerful statements.

One important outspoken activist has been Dustin Lance Black @DLanceBlack who has studied the life of Harvey Milk, is behind the compelling “When We Rise” series @WhenWeRiseABC ‏ and has spoken directly on this issue.

Among celebrities, Raymond Braun @raymondbraun was one of the earliest to speak out and encourage his followers to take action.

When I asked Jai Rodgriguez @jairodriguez ‏ to donate to Chechnya, he took time from his busy schedule to respond favorably, showing both his classiness and his concern.

Other vocal celebrities have included:

Daniel Newman @DanielNewman

George Takei @GeorgeTakei

Rosie O’Donnell @Rosie

Ellen @TheEllenShow

Melissa Etheridge @metheridge

Special praise is due to Debra Messing @DebraMessing

We also commend the efforts of Kevin Orr @KevinDarryl, who not only wrote several Palmer Reports @PalmerReport on Chechnya such as this  and this but played a key role in urging celebrities into action.

If you are a celeb and belong here, let us know!

chechnya protest now

We also thank all you who generated various petitions on Avaaz, @Avaaz ‏ Amnesty International @amnesty , Amnesty Ireland @AmnestyIreland ‏,  GLAAD @glaad ‏ and more.

An AllOut @AllOut ‏petition targetting Chancellor Angela Merkel was especially effective.

We also encourage you to sign this @AmnestyUK petiiton  and this   Change.org @Change petition  addressed to the Russian Prosecutor General.

It is important to stress that even petitions addressed to those unsympathetic to the cause carry a power to them as a gathering of public opinion and help keep the world’s attention on Chechnya throughout social media.

An area of particular concern has been the issue of granting visas to or otherwise helping fleeing men in Canada, the US, and the UK (no longer active), which if acheived, would be a significant advance. Please do consider signing the Canadian and US petitions.

The momentum of all who have spread the word, written poetry, shed tears, raged, cursed,felt despair, yearned to something, donated money, fundraised, protested, all of you, it has not been in vain. It has created a global tidal wave of concern that in time will be unstoppable. I’d like to think that our brothers, trapped and tortured, sense in some way that they are in our thoughts, our hearts, our very souls.

And may that sustain them until we can put a stop to this. From there we will aid our family in Iran, Ukraine, Indonesia and more. And intersectional creatures that we are, we will come to the aid of all populations who currently targetted and threatened both in North America and worldwide.

We bleed for our Syrian family, our Black family, our Muslim family. our Refugee/Immigrant family — in short for all groups that are not part of the current ruling powers: the Usses. as Harvey termed them.

We are truly one earth family and in helping one group, we help all. And indeed this is the mission of the Harvey Milk Foundation @HMilkFoundation, headed by Harvey’s beloved nephew Stuart Milk @StuartMilk ‏, who inspires and organizes the world over.

There is hope yet in the wind. Marriage equality in Taiwan, many positive bills in the US to help our trans family, bills banning conversion therapy. A wall of people united in spirit and love shows us that ‘they cannot conquer forever.’  As we keep their spirit in our hearts, Harvey Milk and Alan Turing truly live.  Our combined love is more powerful than the hate of those who are wreaking harm and havoc, especially if we organize and hit the streets and keep the political pressure at a fever pitch.

Looking for Protest Inspiration? Click on the highlighted cities and countries above or click here to seea curated collection of numerous photographs and video footage of wordwide protests .

Have you taken action as a group, or as individual but you are overlooked in this article?  Are you eager to take further action on Chechnya? Please do let us know so we can honor you and perhaps put you to work. Also please sign this petition, seeking organizers.

My thanks to these honored advocates and organizations who are inspired by Harvey’s hope and Alan’s merit  to continue their great work in service of humanity.

And sending  my love and support to our LGBTQ siblings in Chechnya and all in need of love and sunshine in these challenging times.

You can also learn more about the plight of our family in Iran, Nigeria, Tunisia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Ukraine, Morocco as well as our trans sisters of color in the US,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READ MORE ABOUT CHECHNYA, POLITICS AND HARVEY

Chechnya: What Would Harvey Do?

Harvey Milk as Prophet: Thoughts on Harvey Milk Day 2017

What Would Harvey Think of These Times?

LIST OF ALL BLOG POSTS

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