Russian vigilante groups, bolstered by sweeping anti gay legislation are using social media to lure gay men into fake meetings where they are promptly kidnapped and filmed being beaten, tortured and humiliated. This isn’t something out of a grotesque “in a not so distant future” horror movie, or a “before men were civilized” period piece, what you’re about to see is what’s happening in Russia right now to the LGBT community.
The group, calling itself “Occupy Pedophilia” has helped to set up over 500 groups on VK.com (the Russian version of Facebook) to mobilize illegal militias in almost every Russian city. In essence this ensures that no town, no village and no street is safe for any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person in Russia. Anywhere.
Infamous Russian ultranationalist and former skin head, Maxim Martsinkevich, known under the nickname ‘Cleaver’… spearheaded a countrywide campaign against LGBT teens using a popular social network VK.com to lure unsuspected victims through personal ads.
Mr. Martsinkevich’s numerous and enthusiastic followers started two projects: ‘Occupy Pedophilyaj’ and ‘Occupy Gerontilyaj’.
Allegedly they are trying to identify and report pedophiles using these ‘movements’. In reality, over 500 online groups have been created inside VK.com social network in order to organize illegal militant groups in every Russian city. Oddly enough their idea of fighting pedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date. Captured victims are bullied and often tortured while being recorded on video.
These self-proclaimed “crime fighters” perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicide, the rest are deeply traumatized.
So far Russian police took no action against these “movements” even though Russian criminal code was clearly violated and despite numerous complaints from parents, victims and LGBT activists.
Social network VK.com intermittently shuts down selected groups and profiles only to allow them to be re-open on the next day.
Currently, the founder of VK.com, Pavel Durov, resides in the US and so far has not released any comments.
As the author of this article, and as a gay man myself, I have simply come to the point where signing petitions, boycotting Russian vodka and making sweeping condemnations of Putin are not enough. My rage, my anger and this unsettling amount of helplessness I am feeling are creating the perfect storm within me. As Harvey Fierstein said on the radio a few days ago … it’s time to get “dangerous.”
“It seemed to me a really good time for us as a community to say, ‘You know what boys? Time to stop fucking with us,’” he said, also backing the boycott of Stolichnaya Vodka that has taken off worldwide. “It’s time for them to stop to making money. Time for churches to stop raising money by demonizing us. Time for politicians to stop making money by demonizing us. It’s time to make the gay community too dangerous to do that too. Russia happens to be a great place to do it because Putin — I call him ‘Rat Putin’ — is such a villain. I think there’s an entire movement here and an opportunity to say the gay community is no longer available to be your scapegoat.” Fierstein urged LGBT people to take a stand. “A lot of people are saying, ‘We can’t do this, we can’t do that,’” he said. “You can do everything. You don’t necessarily see the results right away. We have to create an environment where we are too dangerous to mess with. “
Harvey Fierstein is right, it is absolutely time for the LGBT community to become too dangerous to mess with, but as a celebrity he stops well short of giving examples of what dangerous actually means, where I as citizen journalist, will venture in a straight line through that mine field and take the heat for whatever happens next.
Getting dangerous means personal risk, both emotionally and physically. It means not giving a shit what the majority of people will say to calm you down, talk you out of action or warn you that you’re about to go too far. Getting dangerous means making visual, permanent gestures of your outrage for the world to see. It means taking the fight to those who have the power to make even the smallest change and holding them accountable.
Getting dangerous also means you have to be willing to get arrested.
You have to be willing to get arrested, because that broken window at the local Russian embassy isn’t going to break itself. That spray painted wall in front of a store that is still selling Russian vodka, isn’t going to paint itself. Those Russian embassy employees who have been heckled for a month now, aren’t going to heckle themselves. The chains on the front door of the office of your local politician, aren’t going to lock themselves.
And the next homophobe you see pinned against the wall after attacking someone in the street, isn’t going to pin him or herself there. It’s my job, and it’s your job to make sure that happens.
Violence against the LGBT community should not be met with candlelight vigils and HRC celebrity feel-good fundraising campaigns, it should be met with an equal or greater force to deter further persecution and retaliation. If the US, France, UK and other world powers can send armies into other countries on mere whispers of credible intelligence to “take the fight to them” before a fight has even started, then why, oh merciful GaGa why, can’t we as a community fight back when war has already been declared on us?
It’s time to start fighting back in each and every city, town, village and street around the world and no longer accept violence against the LGBT community as simply an unfortunate reality of our existence. It’s time to take up stones, to take up chains, to take up fists and to take up our voices and launch a full-scale war on the one that has already been waged against us and the one that is taking place in Russia right now.
No more Mrs. Nice Guy – It’s time to get dangerous.