Organizers estimate roughly 1,000 people showed up for Fierté Montréal’s “peaceful candlelight vigil” in front of the Russian Consulate in Montreal on August 13.
“Our gesture [was] to specifically denounce Russia’s law on ‘gay propaganda’ that went into effect on June 30,” says Fierté Montréal communications director Lynn Habel. “We [wanted] this demonstration to be peaceful and asked everyone to be respectful of the private property in the [upscale] neighbourhood.”
Featured speakers included Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker who told the crowd he was honoured to be among them, and two activists – Angelika Mo and Kevin Moss – spoke in Russian, so that the videotaped message of LGBT solidarity and support would be heard and understood by everybody in Russia (watch Montreal multi-media artist Jean-Pierre Perusse’s video of the demo above).
“We are here to show our solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia,” Fierté Montréal President Éric Pineault told the assembled crowd. He also added, “It would be unfair to demand that our athletes boycott the Olympics after a lifetime of training. That’s not the solution. Instead we must take advantage of the momentum and visibility created by the games to denounce this crisis.”
Some of the older attendees noted the candlelight vigil felt like a 1970s protest. The decidedly youngish crowd – many of whom had never attended a gay rights rally before – even sang “Imagine” by John Lennon.