This weekend, LGBTIQ immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union held the first ever Russian-speaking pride march in New York City. Several hundred people marched down the boardwalk in Brighton Beach. The gloomy weather and occasional rain did not dampen the jubilant atmosphere.
The organizers, some of whom recently received asylum in the U.S. after fleeing persecution in Russia, felt the march was needed. They perceive that many of their Russian-speaking neighbors in Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York have not adopted the tolerant values of the city, instead still clinging to the widely-accepted homophobia of their ex-Soviet homelands.
“I was shocked how many people still retain the same attitudes and values toward our LGBTIQ community, not welcoming us because we are queer,” said Lyosha Gorshkov, co-president of the Russian Speaking American LGBT Association, who came up with the idea for the march. “They don’t see us, and I decided we have to do something to make Brighton Beach safe for all of us.”