Last Saturday I was walking round Central London with a couchsurfer from Russia.
Well, better to say, “tried to walk round” for most of roads were either closed off to transport or congested to the highest extent. Much of the city was out on the street on the Pride parade. The great news from the US about recognising gay marriage on Federal level made people even more enthusiastic.
The endless ocean of people was around us and upon us. My couchsurfing friend mused that the scale of the event and the emotional impact were similar to those of Victory Day celebrations in Russia to commemorate WWII.
The more I thought about what she said, the more I realised, that Victory Day it is! It is a true moment to celebrate the generation who fought for equal rights.
In Russia the society still consolidates around Victory in Europe in the World War II, because of the immense numbers of the fallen but also because frankly speaking, there were little moments of glory for Russia since. The Western society however does have a recent huge victory in its pocket – LGBT equality.
Because this was a war.
The armies were old oppressive ideas and new progressive ones.
The victims of this war are millions of ostracised LGBT people, living in lies with their families, dehumanised, forlorn, castrated, separated from children and bullied to death.
The battle went on. The progressive people fought in courts as they did in professional bodies. They fought in parliament as they did in pub conversations. They fought in peaceful protests as they did in lounge cocktails. They did express their support to individual LGBT people as they did write letters telling the politicians, they will not get elected unless something is done.
For me there is little difference between these fighters – and the dead in the armed conflict of WWII. It takes as much courage and determination to stand up for others in peacetime as it is to die for others on the battleground.
Combatants of the peacetime do not leave much dead, though – but they leave a lot to live on.
The victory of acceptance is theirs to claim in many countries while the battle continues. This way LGBT Pride is just a pretext to celebrate equality. It could be jews, or black people or any other previously suffering group. The only advantage of LGBT is that it penetrates any class, or nationality, or creed, or race.
Each time the society backs down from the oppressive social policies is a Victory Day. Each of those Victory Days brings us closer to vanquishing prejudices, religious and class oppression and building a more just and fair world.
The US law on gay marriage together with recent advances on cannabis legalisation shows us our future of further social liberalisation. There is still a long way to go.
I dream of time when in Russia a huge demonstration will assemble. It will be the middle of spring, the sun will be shining, just as it was last Saturday in London. Hundreds of thousands of people will storm the streets of central Moscow. The noise will be unbearable.
They will march. Everyone will want to show their support and will stay for a late-evening concert on the Red Square. People will hold both national flags and rainbow ones. Their erect poles of white, and black, and yellow, and brown colours will rub against each other on a burning-hot sun. The hairy bosom of the three-coloured flag will get publicly intimate with that of the rainbow colours in a stunning homoerotic dance on the warm spring wind.
They will hold the banners and portraits of notable gay martyrs fallen to victims to prejudice. Among those there will be Stonewall victims, and Harvey Milk, and Oscar Wilde, and Alan Turing. But alongside those will be Russian-born notable gay people: Chaikovkiy, and Nureev, and Tsvetaeva, and Nizhinsky.
They will march. Each of their steps will fall on violence, on ignorance, on unjust policies, on religion as the tool of oppression rather than a refuge.
The police will be their only to contain the crowd and prevent occasional rowdiness as opposed to current clashes with obscurantist masked youth that usually attacks Russian Pride now.
And that will be the new Victory Day in Russia, as it is now in London.
Image credits – kremlin.ru, Katerina Nikitina.