Come greet the dawn and stand beside us

28 07 2013

Putin’s Russia is not a great place for queer folk.

Of course, it’s also not a great place for dissident folk and Chechen folk and Jewish folk and African folk and any folk who can’t be fitted into a Putin-defined slot of “good Russian citizen”.

Still, it’s the anti-LGBT legislation and violence which has led to a call for the boycott of Russian vodka. Dan Savage, noting a) the uneven prospects for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics  and b) how much vodka is sold in gay bars, kicked off the vodka-boycott:

But [Olympics] boycott or no boycott there is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies in Putin’s increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.

I’ve participated in a few boycotts in my life, and am unopposed to them in principle, even if I question their effectiveness. Given how much Russian hooch is sold in North America, this attempt has a good chance materially to affect some Russian companies, which might maybe possibly could lead them to ask Putin to back off which almost certainly will not lead Putin to back off.

Still, a well-organized boycott can at least serve to heighten awareness of an issue and increase solidarity among the boycotters, which ain’t beanbag.

The question I have, however, is whether this really will, as Savage put it, “show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies” in a way that will actually help them.

What if this doesn’t help them? What if this hurts them? What then?

In other words, should those Russian queers and their allies take the lead and tell us what they want and need, what they think will work, and what we can do to help them?

If they say RIGHT ON! to the boycott, then okay, RIGHT ON!

But I’d like to hear them say it, first.

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