Sunday, 11 August 2013

United Against Oppression - London's LGBT Anti-Putin Protest

Written and photographed by Laurence Conton.

It was a joy to see so many people turn up to support Russia's LGBT community yesterday. Hundreds of London gays, friends and family descended on Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, creating a sea of rainbow colours and hard hitting slogans against Putin and his tyrannical administration. It is amazing how imaginative London's LGBT community can be at delivering satirical yet poignant messages, all the while keeping a peaceful and happy atmosphere, it seemed almost like a pride party at times. 

It was great to see Stephen fry among the crowd giving interviews to the media and using his celebrity status to project this message. I also noticed gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was present, hammering home the point that respect for Russia's LGBT community must be given. As the day progressed more and more people joined the already buoyant crowd. They began shouting slogans at tourist buses and performing satirical acts towards masks of Putin's face, disfigured by make-up and with cross-hairs drawn on the foreheads. 

Sound systems appeared pumping music out and drag queens started throwing shapes on the pavement (Which included the electric slide I believe). The whole place seemed alive with a party vibe. At some points it almost seemed as if everyone forgot what they were all doing there. 

After taking a step back from the whole day it hit me how lucky most of us are to have the rights we do in our country and how much we take them for granted. Even though the turn out was respectable and it was great to see how many people, not just from London, but from all over the world including Russia came to represent, I can't help but feel the message needs to be louder and cast further. London's Gay Community came out in force to make some noise about inequality, but it was kind of sad to see how quickly things can turn into a gay pride-esque booze fest. 

It wasn't that long ago (only a few decades) that our own community continued to face oppression from its government. This led to thousand continually marching for their rights, rights which are these days taken for granted by many. LGBT communities across the globe should be able to use their status and the freedoms and power they possess to send a message to the oppressor's, that we are united globally and if you mess with one of us you mess with us all. 

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