Today is National Coming Out Day and a day to celebrate diversity, strength and courage. For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) people of the world, today is about letting go of a darkened fear and stepping out into the light. It is a time to accept, comfort, and understand one another and it is a day to rejoice in the advancements made in many countries. In Russia, though, today is the day LGBT rights are attacked and many who would come out to family and friends are wholly terrified.
The term coming out typically refers to someone of LGBT orientation letting loved ones know his or her sexual identity. It is a terrifying moment for anyone belonging to a close-knit family who fears rejection, or being torn from the fabric of family and friends. The uneasiness one must go through before making this often agonizing decision can in no way be understood by someone unless he or she has gone through it. Today is a day to give encouragement and clasp the hands of someone who may be in dire need of reassurance and comfort.
In June, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a gay propaganda law, which has triggered International criticism. Lawmakers in Russia will reportedly fight for a bill that could be cause for homosexual couples to lose their children, in February 2014. This debate could find itself in the midst of the 2014 Olympics, being held in Sochi, and could be yet another cut on Russia’s already boycotted anti-gay legislation. This homophobic state policy in Russia is an attempt to save Orthodox Christian morality against the impurities of Western degradation. The law, in an attempt to purify the country, bans foreign gay couples from adopting Russian children. It also bans Russian children from being taught about same-sex couples or homosexuality as being anything but sinful.
Putin’s fight against what he calls “the sodomites,” has ignited in the last seven years, and it has created an overly-homophobic country. The law bans any type of broadcasting or display of homosexual life with fines and jail time, if caught breaking this law, which are steep. Polina Andrianovna, an activist for Coming Out, St. Petersburg, was quoted as saying, “This law is so vaguely formulated,” she said, “that it’s not really possible to know which actions are legal or illegal because nobody knows what this propaganda is.” This stems from the law’s vague insistence that the gay propaganda is left up to interpretation.
To America and other mostly accepting countries, Russia seems to be heading toward an extremist stance mirroring that of Sharia Law and Ugandan laws. The ego-driven purity movement seems a bit more like that of a self-worshiping German dictator of our past. Any hope of calling off the dogs tied to this law has about as much achievability as convincing Hitler he was in the wrong.
Today is National Coming Out Day, and many struggle with finding the right words, the right time, or the right place to announce his or her secret. Many, scared of losing those closest to them, are rallied around by supporters and activists. In America, coming out has seen heartbreaking results that play a large role in keeping LGBT persons in the closet, yet wanting desperately to come out, but fearing the unthinkable. In Russia, though, the rights of LGBT persons are attacked, infringed upon and, in some cases, thrown directly in jail. When stepping out into the light today, it is important to remember that if your country is an ever-growing one for the rights of humans, there is a bit more for which to be grateful. For those of you staying in the dark due to the distasteful laws of your country, there is love and support finding its way to you now.
Written by: Amy Magness Whatley