From Russia with Love: Russian gay community thanks the world, in pictures

Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates and allies held a series of actions around Russia yesterday, from Moscow and St. Petersburg in the west, to Novosibirsk in Siberia to the east, to thank the international community for its vocal support over the past month.

The campaign is called “From Russia with love, and it’s awfully neat.


The Russians didn’t hold “protests” per se, because that would have been illegal.  Rather, under the rubric of the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality, they gathered in a bit of a flash mob and photographed themselves holding “thank you” signs in various languages in front of various well-known Russian landmarks across Russia’s 9 time zones.

Among the cities that held actions: Arkhangelsk, Kazan, Moscow, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Perm, Saratov, St. Petersburg, Togliatti, Ufa, Vladivostok, Voronezh, and Yekaterinburg.

Coordinator of the event, Natalia Tsymbalova, explains:

We, Russian LGBT people and their allies, would like to thank all the people around the world who support us and express their concern about the events in our country in hope of making a difference and pulling Russia out of a tightening medieval darkness.

546951_406821692752743_1467372861_nTo show that global support and solidarity are very important for all of us, we organized in response an acknowledgment action “From Russia with Love”.

“We did not plan this flashmob as an action to attract public attention. It was a friendly get-together to make a photo-shoot in the open. Our posters did not carry political information: we just wrote words of gratitude without even indicating to whom and for what: those who we are sending our smiles and thanks to, will understand it anyway,” says Natalia Tsymbalova, the action organizer and coordinator of the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality.

“Despite police’s nervous attention and a few attempts to disrupt us, we are glad that we were able to finish our action and send our friends abroad our deepest gratitude – this is the least we can do now. Thank you for your support and solidarity! Spasibo!”

“Spasibo” means thank you in Russian.

As the coordinators note, things got a bit hairy when the police showed up at one point in St. Petersburg, but fortunately both sides handled themselves well and the photo shoot went off without a glitch.

The photos below are just a sampling of the various thank yous from various cities in various languages, including English, French, German, Greek, Spanish and more that I didn’t post, but are included on their Facebook page.

Now, will these photo event change the world?  No.  Will it empower more people inside and outside of Russia to do more to help in the future?  Absolutely.  It’s nice to be able to put a face to the people we’re trying to help.  And it’s nice to see that Russia has a whole new generation of LGBT leaders on the horizon.  This was just a really neat idea all around.






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I’m the loving the drama queen response to the cops!





Quick run-in with the cops.







CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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70 Responses to “From Russia with Love: Russian gay community thanks the world, in pictures”

  1. Hoping for better future says:

    A music video to support the Russian gay community:

  2. Eric from Amsterdam says:

    From Amsterdam to Mockba, from Mockba to Amsterdam with LOVE ! Thanks and we will stand for you !

  3. JWang says:

    Love from China! You are HEROES!

  4. Luis Martín says:

    My total respect! You’re heroes! Greetings from Spain!

  5. Pyttipanna says:

    Lots of love from Sweden. I support you with all my heart and I am humbled by your courage.

  6. Uwe says:

    the whole free world is watching you and is reporting about russia and the olympics in sotchi — stay strong – we ´ll win again !

  7. Omegasama says:

    We are standing with you all in this. Many thanks for sharing these images.

  8. Linda says:

    Thanks to all brave Gay People in Russia that continues to fight for their rights! Thank You for sharing these pictures! I support you and your cause!

    TACK is Swedish and means thank you in english.

  9. CHRIS says:


  10. vivian says:

    Love to you all

  11. Jim says:

    May God Bless you all. We stand with you in Pride and Love and will continue the fight for your rights. From Dallas, Texas with love.

  12. Hani Beaverhausen says:

    you’re in my heart, LGBT Russia! We will NOT let you down! From Zurich, CON AMORE. MARCO

  13. ElcubanitoKC says:


  14. t_lhrh says:

    The problem with Russia is that its main exports–and the products that provide the vast majority of the money that funds its repressive, anti-LGBT regime–are oil, natural gas and industrial minerals (like iron ore and coal) and precious minerals (like platinum, gold and diamonds). Russians produce very few consumer products, which are the easiest to boycott by consumers like you and me. It’s much more difficult to boycott coal, iron ore, oil and natural gas, since the only entities who buy these products in bulk are other very large companies or governments.

    I would love to hit the Russian government where it hurts–its fat wallet. But it won’t be hurt by a boycott of a few consumer products like vodka. This is why the Russian government feels it can get away with its repressive anti-LGBT laws with little, if any, repercussions.

    Beginning a divestment strategy–persuading universities and other large investing institutions in the West to divest investments in large Russian companies, on the other hand, may work–sort of like with South Africa in the 1980s.

  15. Chris says:

    Wow! That’s really very moving.

  16. Larry says:

    Carry on heroes! The world is watching!

  17. daniel says:

    How very touching! Congratulation and thank you for your courage, gay Russian brothers and sisters.
    Stay safe… and loving. Daniel, from San Diego, California USA

  18. iodine9 says:

    Мы еще здесь для вас, наши русскиe братья и сестры, которые только, случается, геи и лесбиянки и бисексуалы и транссексуалы. И мы будем здесь для вас. Bы не одиноки. Мы прилагаем все усилия, что мы можем за границей для того, чтобы поддержать вас. Вы не забыты!
    We are still here for you, our Russian brothers and sisters who just happen to be gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgendered. And we will be here for you. you are not alone. We are doing everything that we can from abroad in order to support you. You have not been forgotten!

  19. Joe Wearing says:

    A beautiful array of messages.

  20. Jordan Petersen says:

    I’m not crying. It’s raining on my face.

  21. Dubhradh says:

    You are all so brave and strong! I can’t stand beside you physically but send my heart instead, we love you and support your fight!

  22. Tobi-Dawne Smith says:

    The photos brought tears to my eyes. <3

  23. Leonardo Tlahui Diaz says:

    besos a todas y a todos!!
    saludos desde México..
    Quiero amigos Gay de Russia.

  24. Badgerite says:


  25. Marcus says:

    You are fantastically brave people. Good luck in your fight.

  26. Dave Natale says:

    I recently moved to Berlin, and each day I walk by literally hundreds of “Stolpersteine” – small brass markers set in the sidewalks in front of the former homes of the murdered victims of the Nazis. When will the world community learn that the oppression and victimization of a group of people who merely wish to exist and love is a crime against humanity? When will the businesses who support corrupt practices mend their ways? Answer: When WE stop supporting them, buying their products AND make it know that we changed our purchasing decisions based on their behaviour. Last week, after our march here in Berlin, I made a note of the companies supporting the Solce Slave Games and created a small, business card and an email that reads: “Today I was going to purchase your product, but then I was reminded that you support HATE in Russia. So I purchased from your competitor instead.” I will send this each and every time that I stand up and say, “Enough is Enough”

  27. RikerBear says:

    I wish so much we could get our bigger activist organizations to pool their monies and start getting some of these wonderful brothers and sisters out of there. It is only going to get worse. After the olympics, when the world stops watching so closely, I fear it is going to get MUCH worse.

  28. Helookalikaman79 says:

    We need to find a way to get the LGBT community to the USA (the ones that want to move here) They cannot be who they truly are… I couldnt live in hiding like they are forced to….

  29. cbirdfly says:

    Stay strong, my brothers and sisters! To Russia, With Love!

  30. Jeanett Ditlev says:

    “To Russia with Love” we matched throughout Copenhagen on the 22nd of August , more than 12000 on the street. 50000 signed petition against the anti gay propaganda law, delivered to the Russian embassy. We love you Russia, happy to know you love us back. Like “To Russia with Love” on FB.

  31. Observing U says:

    My heart goes out to all my LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia <3

  32. JellicleCat60 says:

    AWESOME! I want to cry! ;*)

  33. danny says:

    Mine too. This may not be the answer, but this might help the Russian government realize how insane they seem. Please sign this petition, even if it doesn’t get the games moved, getting it to the IOC may help the cause in the long run. Thanks everyone. And please share with your friends. We need to help our siblings across the world.

  34. кали-кун says:

    How brave must one be in order to take these pics in public! This is amazing and awesome and makes me want to cry all at the same time. Props to you, fellas, for doing this! Stay strong.

  35. HeaVen01 says:

    Love from Virginia! With all that’s wrong with this world, one would think whom you love would be the last thing on your leader’s mind! It gets better and will get better!

  36. makikijoe says:

    Personally, I want to smack Putin.
    But if I smacked everybody I want to smack, I’d be in jail.
    The Russians are about where the U.S. was in the 1950’s when it comes to gay rights.
    But they’ve got the internet. That could be the key tool to having a “gay community” there.
    Good luck and love to our Russian friends.

  37. Eric Bickelhaupt says:

    From Ohio – USA With Love! Stay Strong! We LOVE YOU! We Support our Brothers and Sisters in their darkest hour!

  38. Luis Remelli says:

    This is amazing

  39. REALrenovato says:

    LOVIN IT – Stay strong and safe with PRIDE! Tears in my eyes, but doing alI I can to help.

    Love from NE Scotland, Kathryn

  40. lovely – all pride goes for you -keep going! from Brussels with Love!

  41. trixie says:

    This gave me chills! All those beautiful faces! Stay strong and be safe!

  42. Mark says:

    Mae llawer cariad Rwsia gan eich cyfeillion yng Nghymru (Love from Wales :) xx )

  43. Francois de Kat says:

    Briljant! X

  44. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    That’s beautiful.

  45. OMG This is SO AWESOME. Almost makes me wanna cry. Мы любим вас, дорогие друзья! Знайте, что мы не забываем о вас. Мы будем бороться для вас, с НЕУСТАННЫМИ УСИЛИЯМИ! Вся моя любовь вас!

    Томми из Калифорнии.

  46. Mario Venditti says:

    Sending you LGBT FOLKS in Russia all our LoVe. We Will FIGHT with you and for you ! xxx

  47. kat coric says:

    amazing !!! we are participating in Global Kiss-In !!! Montreal is with you!

  48. BeccaM says:

    Uh oh! Darn, hope my wife doesn’t find out!

  49. bandanajack says:

    just wonderful john. so glad to know they hear us. i wish there was more we could do to offer help. if anyone has websites the russian lgbtqi can get to read our words of hope, please let me know.

    i like to point out that 50 or 60 years ago it was much the same here in the US, and look how far we have come. (and i oughta know, i was there. in fact ask any gay senior, especially the guys, what it was like in the “good old days” the conservatives are always going on about. good if you were a str8 white male that is.

  50. Anonymous says:

    “I’m the loving the drama queen response to the cops!” That’s so funny…we need some comic relief during all this!

  51. Bill_Perdue says:

    They probably prefer to stay and fight. They’er not asking for asylum, and they probably wouldn’t get it from Obama. The battle for Russia will no be won by Americans or Europeans or anyone but Russians.

    We can support them but it’s their fight to win or lose.

    Boycott and divest from NBC-MSNBC-Comcast and other homophobic sponsors of Putin’s right wing agenda.

  52. Ha! Well, I know for a fact they saw the post, so I suspect she got the message ;-)

  53. Pat says:

    As I mentioned yesterday, the popular French show “Le Petit Journal” (similar to the Daily Show) is sending a reporter in St Petersburg, Russia, this week to meet with local gay activists. In today’s show,the reporter met with the owners of the gallery which was closed down because of the famous painting of Putin and Medvedev in night gowns. The owners are planning to defy the order to close and to actually reopen the gallery as normal in the next few days. However, the reporter then mentioned that since the interview was taped last night, one of the owners has since been arrested.

    Starts at 4’46” in the video here:

    Yesterday’s show (when they interviewed the gay activist who was beaten up by the local troopers) starts at 2’22” here:

  54. BeccaM says:

    Wow, beautiful… and a much needed antidote to the horrible news coming out of Russia these last few weeks.

    And that Natalia — her gorgeous smile makes me go all gooey.

  55. Bill_Perdue says:

    Very creative, and a good path to organizing. The movement in Russia is not dead.

  56. Harry Underwood says:

    Russian Underground Railroad?

  57. mooresart says:

    Thanks, John, for the beautiful, touching photos from our gay friends in Russia. I especially loved the “from Russia with love” bit. Now I need to go get a kleenex. Oh, and thank YOU for being instrumental in calling attention to this atrocity.

  58. FLL says:

    The situation in Russia is dangerous. Many people in the West (activists, journalists, elected officials and others) have not abandoned Russian gay people and their allies in their time of need and left them to fend for themselves. Anyone who isn’t moved by these images of heartfelt gratitude from across Russia must have a heart of stone.

  59. goulo says:

    Thanks very much for posting these awesome touching photos, and especially to the brave excellent people who made the photos!

    It’s a good refutation to the bogus frequent nationalistic “concern troll” comments from some Russians claiming that Russian gay people are happy with the situation in Russia and that they don’t want Western help/meddling/yada-yada.

  60. jomicur says:

    Thank you so much, John, for posting this. Knowing that our Russian brothers and sisters are aware of our concern and our efforts to do what we can to support them has invigorated my resolve to continue doing everything I can. There isn’t all that much a disabled person like me is able to do other than write and make phone calls, but be assured that I will do it.

  61. Indigo says:

    Me too.

  62. Indigo says:


  63. Now get them out!!!!!!

  64. karmanot says:

    Just great! “Spasibo” back at ya GLTBQ sisters and brothers!

  65. Anonymous says:

    Made me tear up…

  66. StraightGrandmother says:

    OMG I am crying so hard.

  67. askew says:


  68. basenjilover says:

    I have this “tug” in my heart for these brave beautiful souls even they’re half world away. I truly hope they will be safe and Russian authorities/thugs won’t use pictures to sought out the brave people. Anyone coming up with grand ideas how we can help Russian LBGT?

  69. markofthebeasts says:

    Thank You!

  70. Lthomas320 says:

    Pardon me, there seems to be something in my eye. Grabs tissue.

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