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NYT: Gay Russians Face Discrimination in Brooklyn 

NYT: Gay Russians Face Discrimination in Brooklyn 

masha gessen

Gay Russians gathered to speak about the importance of being out in their communities at Brighton Beach Pride.

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At Brighton Beach Pride in Brooklyn, which was organized by RUSA LGBT, out Russian journalist Masha Gessen spoke to atendees and said, "Pride is about going into a place where it can be frightening."

The event was hailed as the first Russian-speaking pride event by The New York Times, and about 200 people attended. Denis Kruglenko, a gay Russian man interviewed by the Times, said he left the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed several anti-LGBT laws. When he settled in New York City, Kruglenko says he faced homophobia when he moved into the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, where many Russian-speaking immigrants live.

"It was almost like I'd never left Russia," Kruglenko, 25, told the paper. "Being gay around here is a constant danger."

Lyosha Gorshkov, the cofounder of RUSA LGBT, a U.S. LGBT group for Russian emigres, told the Times he had a simliar experience after moving from Russia in 2014. "We're surrounded by Russians, but it's like they're all frozen in time with these old Soviet values," he said. "I get nonstop abuse from everyone in the neighborhood: women in my building, men outside of bars, even children."

Letitia James, New York City's public advocate, was one of the featured speakers at the Pride event. She spoke about the importance of embracing the LGBT community in Brighton Beach. "We need to embrace you in Brighton Beach," she said. "It's critically important. And as the Russian community grows in Brooklyn and all throughout the city, we need to let everyone know that the LGBT.community is welcome there as well."

RUSA LGBT has also been helping to advocate for gay and bisexual men who face persecution in the semiautonomous Russian republic of Chechnya, where at least 100 men have been detained and put in camps. At least three men have been killed.

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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.