I'm sitting at my computer on a Sunday morning, editing copy for the Capital Pride Guide -- profiles and preview stories for the annual celebration that culminates in thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people taking to the main street of the nation's capital for a peaceful and enjoyable celebration of our community. The local government supports it, the police provide protection and the federal government keeps its nose out for the day.
Meanwhile, Doug Ireland reports that over in Russia for the second year in a row an attempt at a gay pride event has been met with violence, as police arrested organizers and allowed anti-gay, ultra-nationalist hooligans to run free, pelting organizers and participants with eggs and bottles, and physically attacking some of them. This picture from Ireland's blog of a hooligan winding up to punch British gay activist Peter Tatchell sums up rather a lot:
Think that guy has any fear of being arrested for physically attacking someone?
It seems a long, long time ago when the Communists collapsed and it seemed like the world was preparing for a turn to the better -- that ideal seems lost, perhaps permanently. I don't base that on just the reaction to a gay pride march, although that's indicative of the rot in Putin's Russia. I had a straight friend once who spent a good amount of time in Moscow on business -- private contractor stuff. He got picked up by police in a van and spent the next three or so days being beaten in a jail cell before being dropped back on the street, sans his valuables.
It seems trite sometimes to say that we're lucky to be gay -- or whatever -- in the U.S., where even with the many problems we face, we've made enough progress to make these Russian-type incidents, if not impossible, then nearly so. But in our own comfort, I hope we don't avert our gaze from parts of the world that can seem so distant from our own concerns.