Just before I answer the questions, I want to clarify that I'm not connected with the Russian community of Montreal. I'm going to soon start trying to get in touch with them, but I really just got connected with the Pride committee in Moscow and that's it.
What is your name, where were you born and raised, and what do you do, 9 to 5 like?
My name is Ricky, I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, though I was raised in Toronto. I'm studying ecology at Concordia.
You are very much involved with the Russian community in Montreal. What
are some of the things you are fighting for?
I am advocating for the Russian authorities to grant all constitutional rights to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer communities of Russia. The hot topic right now is the right to Freedom of Assembly, as organizers have been trying to initiate gay pride festivities in Moscow for the past five years.
Tell us about Moscow Pride and the response from the Montreal queer
Moscow Pride is an illegal event that happens every May. The organizers of the event always apply for permits to hold the event and are denied on absurd technicalities. A small group of marchers comes out every year and faces violence from ultra-nationalist groups that are determined to destroy the Pride movement across Eastern Europe. The organizers are also often arrested for holding the event. The response from the Montreal queer community has been unanimous support for this cause. I have not met one queer person in this city who has opposed the legalization of Pride in Moscow.
What events are you organizing in the near future?
In the past few months, we have held charity yoga classes and a few other benefits. Our biggest one was a night of Russian entertainment with films, dancers, musicians and a video conference chat with Nikolai Alexeyev, who is the organizer of Moscow Pride. It was such a huge success that I will be doing a similar event in the fall. Dates and venue will be announced closer to the time.
Where can we read more about the rights of queers in Russia/russian
All news updates about gay rights in Russia are posted to http://www.gayrussia.ru/en
What's your favourite spot to hang out and see other queers in Montreal?
I enjoy spending time in the village, in the Plateau, Mile End, Marché Jean Talon, at Concordia, and in NDG. I seem to find queers wherever I go. That's one great thing about Montreal, the queer scene is spread out across the whole city.
It sometimes feels ridiculous that we need to state the reasons why equal rights would benefit us all. Three does not equal two, and that does not need to be explained to anyone. However, many people are not prejudiced because of hate but because of fear. Our society is at the tail end of centuries of tyrannical beliefs disguised as religious dogma that guide many systems of belief and morality, so we even have to give the homophobes enough room to turn around. You can't make a U-turn in a driveway.