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GLN ANNUAL MATTHEW SHEPARD MARCH NEWS

GLN Hosts 1st Ever Visit to the United States by Russian Gay Leader Nikolai Alexeyev

The Gay Liberation Network is delighted to announce that Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s foremost gay leader and organizer for LGBT rights, will be the keynote speaker at Chicago’s 9th annual Matthew Shepard March for LGBT freedom on the evening of Saturday, October 6th. This is Alexeyev’s first-ever visit to the United States and for us a rare opportunity to show solidarity with our Russian LGBT brothers and sisters.

Alexeyev has courageously led the organizing of Russian LGBT people, braving government repression and assaults by fascists (see YOUTUBE-LINK & SFGate-LINK). Leaders of every major religious denomination in Moscow have called for the “legal” banning of Gay Pride parades, and some of them have openly called for violence against Pride participants. Russian Orthodox priests have blessed neo-nazi thugs before sending them off to attack gay clubs. Police have stood by while fascists (YOUTUBE-LINK) have physically attacked Pride participants, and then arrested the non-violent gay rights activists on trumped-up charges (YOUTUBE-LINK)

For the past two years, Alexeyev has led the organizing of Moscow Pride despite the banning of the events by local authorities. He also has been opposed by conservative gays who say the times are not ripe for gay rights in Russia (as though passive waiting ever won any minority group its rights). In fact, Alexeyev’s struggles with the forces of the church, the state, and people within his own community are eerily reminiscent of earlier struggles faced by gay rights organizers in the U.S. and around the world. The 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, for example, was opposed not just by the police and mob-affiliated bar owners, but also by more conservative gay rights organizers. Current mythology about the African American Civil Rights Movement fails to note that Martin Luther King, Jr. and more radical organizers were ardently opposed not just by both political parties, but by many within their own community.

The brave men and women who fought back during the Stonewall Rebellion and the ACT-UP protesters during the early years of the AIDS epidemic who “got in the face” of callous government and medical industry officials showed how rapid civil rights progress can be won. More recently, in Warsaw, Poland, only a few hundred brave LGBT people and allies participated in marches despite banning by the government, arrests, and physical attacks by neo-fascist thugs. After years of struggle – and solidarity from people abroad – for the first time this year Polish LGBT people won the legal right to hold a Pride parade, and some 20,000 people participated as a result.

The Gay Liberation Network (GLN) is proud to host Nikolai Alexeyev for his first-ever United States visit, not just to salute his bravery and that of his colleagues, but to help organize active solidarity with our Russian LGBT brothers and sisters. In addition to being our keynote speaker at the 9th annual Matthew Shepard March at 8 PM on Saturday, October 6th (@ the 7-11 parking lot, corner of Roscoe and Halsted Streets, Chicago), GLN will host a 7 PM, Wednesday, October 3rd fundraising reception for Alexeyev at Chicago’s LGBT resource center, the Gerber Hart Library, at 1127 W. Granville Street (1/2 block west of the Red Line “Granville” el stop). Suggested donation is $25 (more if you can afford it!) and all proceeds of the benefit receiption will go to Alexeyev’s organization, the Organizational Committee of Moscow Pride.

As you might imagine, air travel and other expenses associated with Alexeyev’s visit to the United States are huge for an all-volunteer orgnization like GLN. Please consider making a donation to help: Checks can be made payable to “GLN” and mailed to:

Gay Liberation Network
4404 N. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 420
Chicago, IL 60640

Thank you, and please mark Alexeyev’s October 3rd and October 6th events on your calendar!

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