WATCH: Vice Takes a Ride in Russia's Underground Gay Taxi Service
Digital publication Vice revealed the first installment of its five-part series exploring the resilience of Russia's embattled gay populace in a short video today.
The series, titled Young and Gay in Putin's Russia, explores the impact of the nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, which prohibits any positive discussion or depiction of LGBT identities in venues that might be accessible to minors. After the national legislation, which was based on similar local laws passed in several Russian provinces, passed the national State Duma unanimously, President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law last June.
Vice sent a team to Russia in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, set to begin next month in Sochi. The reporters were looking to "investigate the effects of the country's state-sanctioned homophobia," Vice notes. The first report filed takes viewers on a ride-along in Moscow's secret gay taxi service, created out of a need for safe transportation for out LGBT people. The clip also introduces viewers to an out lesbian who teaches self-defense classes for LGBT Russians.
"In this country, if you don't tell people you're gay, everything is calm and peaceful," Artem, a cab driver for the LGBT service Our Taxi says in the video. "But as soon as you mention it, life becomes more difficult."
Watch Vice's first report from Russia below.