Castro Russian Orthodox Churchgoers flee in advance of Gay Protest

Churchgoers flee fearing the wrath of a Rainbow?

By Melanie Nathan, August 26, 2013.


Outside the front door of the home of the priest from the Russian Orthodox church in the Castro are rainbow flag bearers and signs in Russian saying GAY is OKAY.

On Sunday, Gays Without Borders together with members of San Francisco’s LGBT community paid a visit to St. Nicholas Cathedral Church, a Russian Orthodox Church located in the Castro to raise rainbow flags bringing awareness about Russia’s anti-gay laws and to express solidarity with Russia’s oppressed LGBT community.

We had hoped to speak to the Priest and his parishioners,  who had failed to respond to our advance e-mails and calls for dialogue. Instead knowing we would be arriving at 11.00AM, they fled early, after displaying their hostility by calling on law enforcement.


Melanie Nathan making a speech outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013- Photo courtesy Bill Wilson ©

When I arrived, before any of the others, I noticed 3  San Francisco police cruisers and 2 police officers on bicycles, opposite the Church. That seemed like a huge law enforcement presence for what promised to be a very small gathering of peaceful rainbow flag wavers. Having participated in many similar events, I have yet to see such a large police turn out. Judging by the comments on my blog prior to the event, and information from a source, it is clear that the Church had called in to the police, which I believe was both intended to be retaliatory and hostile.

Unfortunately the Russian Orthodox parishioners were not there to see the beauty of those rainbow flags or the beautiful people who stood holding them – nor for that moment of silence for victims of LGBT oppression in Russia, 3 short  speeches, during which time we expressed our dismay at the Russian oppression of gays, welcomed their right to pray in the Castro and belted a very out of tune rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Michael Petrelis, the organizer from gays without Border, reported:

“Members of Gays Without Borders and arrived at St. Nicholas’ Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) on 15th Street in San Francisco’s famed Castro neighborhood for a peaceful picket only to be told that Rector Leonid Kazakov had left an hour earlier in full vestments and headdress accompanied by members of the church.”

On June 30th Russian President President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure that bans the so called “promotion” of non-traditional sexual relationships,” to minors. This law is so wide it threatens arrest, detainment and imprisonment of individuals or groups found to be publicly supportive of LGBT people, issues, or equality. Punishable offenses could include public acknowledgment of one’s orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights, and even the waving of a rainbow flag.  Since its passage, the public persecution of gays has increased.


Protest outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©

Waving rainbow flags would have had us arrested in Moscow and so when the churchgoers exaggerated their concerns to the SFPD, soliciting the large and expensive police presence as a backdrop to their early flight from the scene, perhaps they did not realize that we do not get arrested in the Castro for holding a rainbow flag, as perhaps they had hoped we would, just as would be the case in Russia. Thank you ST. NICHOLAS for helping us emphasize our point!

And so we gathered our large rainbow flags, draping one over a building across the way and held the others outside St. Nicholas Cathedral. When the police saw us they left and only 2 officers on bikes remained at a one block distance. The event was peaceful and we accomplished media attention with a report on local TV news as well as Russians reporting back to Russian Government and media.

We stood aside from the Church and did not block the path. But when we confirmed that the parishioners were not there anyway, we stood in front of the Church door for a quick photo opportunity that took about 3  minutes and then we all left.

While a strong movement is now developing which calls for the repeal of the anti-gay laws in Russia and the arrests of vigilantes who are kidnapping and torturing gay teens on the Streets of Russia, we will continue to picket places that support the Russian oppression, such as St. Nicholas Cathedral in the Castro district, which  is under the control and direction of Patriarch Kirill, who in December 2010 appointed Father Leonid Kazakov of the St. Petersburg diocese to lead the San Francisco church.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I, who lives in Moscow, is a leading proponent of the anit-gay law. Patriarch Kirill is a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two leaders both strongly back the recently enacted anti-gay propaganda law that bans any pro-gay statement or demonstrations in public or private and on the Internet. The law has drawn international condemnation.

It was a shame that the members of St. Nicholas did not take the opportunity to meet with us. This action Sunday was designed to show the love and beauty of LGBT people through the display of the rainbow flag, our international symbol of acceptance and respect for our community. At the same time we were prepared to speak up for the boycotts.

Petrelis Files.  A gay neighbor came over and told the protesters that he had seen the rector and congregants leave the church roughly 30 minutes earlier and drive off to an unknown location. The church and the rector’s home were locked. There were no members of the church present at any time before or during the action.

Joining the American protesters were several gay and straight Russians whose last names are being withheld for confidentiality reasons. One gay Russian named Vladimir, who has resided in the U.S. for more than 20 years, conveyed his support for all efforts on behalf of Russian LGBT people.

(Credit: Gays Without Borders.)

Anatoly, pictured at right, a straight Russian, said he was a friend of the gay community and wants the ROC hierarchy to stop hating LGBT people. Anatoly spoke in Russian and English to the crowd.

(Credit: Peter Menchini.)

From across the street, another gay neighbor, pictured, leaned out his window to shout approval of the picket and he hollered his own slogans of gay liberation.

As one of the speakers I noted that San Francisco and particularly the Castro has always stood proudly as a beacon of hope for freedom and equality for all LGBTI people around the world, and it cannot in good moral conscience support Russian interests in silence until the onerous anti-gay law is fully repealed.   St. Nicholas like all churches are welcome in the Castro. We respect the religious freedoms of the Russian Orthodox Church.  But just like the Church has its freedom to express its religion gay people should have the freedom to express their human sexuality. We hoped to dialogue and to inform and hence ensure that our Russian Orthodox neighbors speak out against the reprehensible persecution of gays, lesbians and transgender people in Russia at this time. If the church refuses, and remains silent, then they are complicit in the persecution.

When I sent the anonymous Russian activist who goes by the code name Goldfinch the pictures s/he noted:

“When someone mentions such strong nouns as “protest, manifest or strike”, you think about hundreds or thousands of people gathering and demanding something from government or fighting for something.  I see approximately 20 people standing in front of St. Nicholas church supporting LGBT of Russia and condemning the horrifying law against sexual minority. I didn’t see hundreds of people, but I saw people with pride and prepared to fight and support LGBT people in Moscow. I wish I could see those eyes in many other protests and strikes. People who are not afraid to fight and protect the others. And if you read this small paragraph it means that you are already fighting for LGBT rights in Russia and you are already resisting an enemy. Putin, don’t you still realize what have you done.”

Russian Church Gay Rights Rally 25 Aug 2013 from Peter Menchini on Vimeo.

UPDATED Many Articles including extensive social media discussions resulted from this action to include criticism of the ROC by members of the Church: ”

“Shame on you, Arch­bishop Kyrill, Arch­bishop Jus­tin­ian, and Bishop Theo­do­sius for your fail­ure to act “as the Mas­ter would do,” by not extend­ing the hand of fel­low­ship, of char­ity, and of Chris­t­ian love, but by your very demeanor and actions cast­ing stones of judg­ment and deri­sion upon indi­vid­u­als with whom you have never exchanged a word. “I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jam. 2:18)

Shame on you, Arch­bishop Kyrill, Arch­bishop Jus­tin­ian, and Bishop Theo­do­sius for set­ting a prece­dent and leav­ing an impres­sion that the Ortho­dox Church is unap­proach­able, hos­tile, iso­lated, an entity unto itself, inhos­pitable, and “shady” in its deal­ings with gov­ern­ment. It seems to me you com­pletely fail to see the incon­gru­ence of chant­ing the “Tri­umph of Ortho­doxy” when giv­ing the mes­sage, “you don’t belong here.” How do we answer the ques­tion, “Where do you find the Lord?” “Among the sin­ners. All sin­ners.” “Who is the Ortho­dox pas­tor?” “The one who would act as the Mas­ter would act.”

What have you pro­tected us from? Shame on you, Arch­bishop Kyrill, Arch­bishop Jus­tin­ian, and Bishop Theo­do­sius. I am embarrassed.” READ FULL ARTICLE


Melanie Nathan speaking outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Michael Petrelis speaking outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Protest outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Photo courtesy Bill Wilson©


Smaller signs read in Russian Gay is Okay.


Protest outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©


Neighbors wave rainbow flags in support of the protest from their windows: opposite Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©


Protest outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©


Rainbow flags lines along the sidewalk outside Cathedral. Protest outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©

Hostile Man speaking Russian into mobile phone while taking photos of people faces in intimidating way, outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©


Outside Russian Orthodox Church. St. Nicholas Cathedral, Castro, San Francisco, Aug 25, 2013 Melanie Nathan©


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40 Comments on “Castro Russian Orthodox Churchgoers flee in advance of Gay Protest”

  1. Derek Williams August 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM #

    Great protest. Well done.

  2. NickNicholsonNYC August 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM #

    I’m afraid that you planned your protest during the Divine Liturgy of the last Sunday of the Russian Orthodox Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. It is, besides Easter, one of the holiest days in the Orthodox Calendar. While you may have intended this protest to be peaceful — it was as tone-deaf as if you had planned a protest and asked to speak with an Imam during Ramadan.

    The clergy and teh RUssian speaking parish, fearful of a protest like the ones that have rocked Moscow, called not only the Archbishop in New York, but the police and the Consul General asking for protection.

    No member of the Orthodox Clergy, even a sympathetic one (and there are many), would have risked a disruption to this important day.

    While you gained press in the US with a “peaceful rally” — in the Russian press, your action is being depicted as anti-Orthodox, anti-Russian, and has lent credibility to the Putin-controlled press that the protests in the west are run by a gay cabal “angered at the loss of their ability to distribute homosexual propaganda to minors.”

    Sorry. Tone-deaf, counterproductive, ill-advised. Go after olympic corporate sponsors and the IOC. You can’t earn popular support from Russians on this one. Embarass Putin. Let him know the world is watching his violations of HUMAN RIGHTS. This is far bigger than an LGBT issue. See the tip of the Russian press on your efforts here:

    • Melanie Nathan August 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM #

      Well to me that sounds like perfect timing. Attention!! You are asking me to respect the timing of my simple rainbow picket? Respect timing for people who are promoting the beating of gays through their lack of solicitude and dogma that bites? Do you think they have stopped to give one single moments thought to what day of the week any particular gay teen is being beaten? This Church is complicit in the oppression and persecution of gays. The good news is we are getting the coverage and attention we want. As far as SOCHI and other boycotts dont worry we have been working extensively on that too. Activists are tackling this from all directions. Looks like our timing was just perfect! They have no respect for Russian LGBT lives and you want me to reconsider our timing?

      The picket was not anti-orthodox. In fact we said that we welcomed their right to freedom of religion and no one stopped the prayers. we would not have gone inside the Church and we showed up at a time when Church was due to conclude. It was a pro gay event not an anti-orthodox event = point made!

      If you read my BLOG you will see we have and continue to go after the IOC re Sochi and the sponsors.

      Amazing that a handful of people carrying rainbow flags could make such a huge impact! wow What power your attribute to us- way exceeded my dreams of success!

      • Lance Hogben August 30, 2013 at 10:50 AM #

        Sorry, Melanie, your reply to the very cogent comment shows that the protest is not just tone-deaf, but that you are deaf altogther to reason. Your caricature of the Russian Orthodox believers as supportive of things you find pernicious is unfounded. Within Orthodoxy, persons of many sexual preferences are loved and included as equally deserving of God’d love, and yes, the sacraments of His Son’s very body and blood. Too bad your writing shows that such great love and pastoral care for all counts for nothing to you. No one is keeping you out of the Church but yourself.
        To construe liturgical events as opportunities for your political protests shows utter disdain for sensibilities of the people of faith, while pointing up a childish preoccupation with your own prerogatives. Such a stance renders any dialogue impossible.

        • Melanie Nathan August 30, 2013 at 1:13 PM #

          Lance of course you are entitled to your perspective – though not all agree.

          1. “””””””MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church is enjoying its newfound prestige with the Russian government. The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, was granted residence in the Kremlin, the elaborate historic fortress in Moscow and seat of the Russian government, late last year, and he openly supported Vladimir Putin, who won a third term as president in March. But the church’s closeness to the government also has made it a target of criticism and protest. Patriarch Kirill’s endorsement of Mr. Putin was the culmination of a dramatic deepening of ties between the Orthodox church and the Kremlin since the 1991 collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union. The 65-year-old patriarch also was granted official residence at the Kremlin in late 2011, a move that restored the head of the church to a residence the church lost in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The Russian Constitution stipulates the separation of church and state, but leading Orthodox officials have made no secret of their desire for even closer “cooperation” with the authorities. With tens of thousands of demonstrators marching in anti-Putin protests in recent months, the Orthodox church also has been attacked during the startling rise in political activism over allegations of corruption and the perceived luxurious lifestyles of its leaders.

          Patriarch Kirill came under fire in April after he insisted in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn a $30,000 Breguet watch that he received as a gift. He suggested that any photographs of him wearing the watch must have been doctored.

          However, attentive bloggers quickly discovered a photograph on the church’s official website of Patriarch Kirill with the expensive watch on his wrist. Less than 24 hours later, the timepiece had been airbrushed out of the photograph. Unfortunately for the church, the inattentive editor left intact the telltale reflection of the luxury wristwatch on a varnished table, sparking weeks of online mockery.

          Patriarch Kirill responded to this growing criticism of the church by calling a nationwide day of prayer in April. About 40,000 people attended a mass prayer outside the Christ the Savior Cathedral, where the patriarch urged attendees to defend what he said was an Orthodox church “under attack by persecutors.”

          Although some 70 percent of Russians identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, many see the church as a mere extension of statehood. A report by the independent, Moscow-based Levada Center pollster indicated this week that 30 percent of those who identified themselves as Orthodox Christians did not, in fact, believe in God.

          “One shouldn’t be misled by the amount of people who identify themselves as Orthodox believers,” said Ms. Lipman, the Carnegie Center analyst. “For many of them, this is simply a way to identify themselves as Russians.” “”””” Read more:

          2. A reader sent this to me from a Forum discussing our picket and calls for dialogue with the Church:
          “”””A priest’s response to another priest’s anti-gay post:
          > What do you think would come out of “dialoging” with people demanding acceptance of that which is inherently sinful?<
          "An atmosphere of greater love which would work against acceptance of the idea that thugs killing homosexuals is acceptable. How many have been killed, after torturing, in recent months in Russia?"

          Stankovich response to aforementioned anti-gay cleric:
          " The issue has absolutely NOTHING to do with with homosexuality, Putin, vodka, persecution, "homophobia," or the "politics" of the Russian Orthodox Church. The issue is the fundamental lack of charity; the disrespect and dishonor – no matter how heinous and despicable we may presume their behaviour or sinful activity to be – shown to these individuals who, like all of use, were created in the image and likeness of God; the forsaking of the possibility that anyone, while still capable of drawing breath, may and can repent; and making a lie of the words of the Lord Himself, "In my Father's house are many mansions," (Jn. 14:2), but not for YOU. The cathedral sits in the center of the Castro, Fr. John! Who is my brother? Can you honestly not imagine what the Lord would do among sinners? Shame on you, Fr. John. for these argumentative responses. I have never met you, but I believe I know you well enough to say that I cannot imagine you would not, first and foremost, extend charity and respect to even the most loathsome until they had exhausted your effort.""""""

          3.ANOTHER Response in forum on issue:
          A member's response to Stankovich:
          """"""The Holy …cow!! People…when do you look at something for what it is? In America, we have lots of peaceful demonstrations. Of course, anything can go wrong, but the intention of the protesters was simple and clear. They seemed to have researched the situation enough to know that the service would be almost or completely over when they arrived. Hence, there was no intent to disrupt. And they didn't. There was an over reaction–three bishops? For what? Praying about or for the triumph of Orthodoxy? They left early. I can see they probably were thinking the worst. But, people, here in the clear "light of day" so to speak, obviously there was an lack of communication. I don't know why they chose the Russian Orthodox to protest at. (sarcasm) The ROC in Russia has been aiding, abetting and encouraging the thugs in Russia who have finally been given, by the Putin Government a group of people that it is "ok" to harass, beat up, torture an injure that again PEOPLE who happen to be LGBT. I'm bemused by the fact that with all the wisdom available given the membership of this group…you haven't figured out the clever little trick that Putin has played. Rather than having these gangs of thugs chase down random people to rob & steal from them…which is what they were doing before Putin handed them on a silver platter…homosexuals.. Now, with a task assigned they like most members of a fascist society follow the leader when he's giving them a "solemn" task. Why isn't the ROC in Russia calling them off? Because, they are also playing the "artful dodger…focusing attention away from the real corruption that pervades the Patriarchate. How easy it is to throw one group under the bus. Watch out, cuz they're coming for others once the LGBT community is beat up. Are you praying for the LGBT who are victims or are you praying for the thugs who are berating up PEOPLE?"""""""

          So Lance there is much much more and ythe action brought in a huge discussion in ROC circles – much needed. We are grateful for that. Maybe those from within the Church can find ways to bring an end to the persecution on LGBT people and all the while maintain their freedom of religion to pray . But please get out of the business of the secular and its laws which seems to provide license to hurt LGBT people. All we want is for ROC to exert its influence in calling an end to the PERSECUTION and harm being perpetrated on gays on the streets of Russia. As of now no one is doing any of these acts of loving kindess or charity. As can be seen from our action – they called in prayers for our so called perversion and ran away. How about helping and not running away. That simple! No one is taking away anyone's rights here in America we are asking for HELP?? I dont see the great love and Pastoral care anywhere do you?

          • NickNicholsonNYC August 30, 2013 at 2:21 PM #

            Melanie, you can cut and paste old anti-hierarchical press all you like (its all true), the point remains that you are aiming your arrows at the wrong target on this which is all Lance and I are saying.


            While the Russian Orthodox Church is NO help to LGBT Russians, before giving the ROC all the credit for Russia’s virulent homophobia and for heinous crimes against the Russian LGBT Community, please take a look at the following:

            There are approximately 111 million ethnic Russians in Russia.

            74% of Russians believe Homosexuality should be illegal and is unacceptable. (that’s approximately 83 million people)

            Only 64 percent of ethnic Russians identify themselves as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. (That’s about 71 million)

            Only 48 percent of self-identified Russian Orthodox Christians said that they have ever read the New Testament, the Old Testament, the Holy Fathers, or other key scriptures. (that’s about 34 million)

            Only 30 percent of self-identified Russian Orthodox Christians have been baptized or had religious instruction. (about 21 million)

            Only 24 percent said that they are regular church-goers. (about 17 million)

            SO–baptized, bible reading, church attending, Russian Orthodox who believe homosexuality should be illegal?

            HIGHEST POSSIBLE NUMBER IS about 17 million people. (That is about the population of Moscow and its extended suburbs.)

            Ethnic Russians who believe the same thing? CLOSE TO 82 MILLION PEOPLE.

            You keep insisting that your protest brought in “huge discussion in ROC circles.” That is true–it elicited news reports that violent pederasts attempted to interrupt an important liturgy to express their upset that they are no longer able to send pornography and propaganda to Russian children. Your protest was only a success in that it gave an anti-gay PR organ the ammunition t needed to fight us harder. It was counterproductive and damaging to the people who are suffering the most.

            You feel the protest was a success because you are only thinking about your community from your perspective. You are LGBT SF-focused, and that is great: Aim your considerable talents at Senators and Congressmen to extend the Magnitzky Bill to prevent Homophobic politicians from traveling to Europe or the US to do business! LISTEN to the LGBT Russian activists and focus on US corporations to get them to pull out of Sochi and to protect LGBT people in their employ in Russia.

            Make a difference, not a problem!

            poll results were released July 2013 by FOM (the country’s Public Opinion Foundation)–this means they are probably inflated, and there are even fewer Orthodox than appear in the rear view mirror.) and come from ( June 14, 2013)

            • Melanie Nathan August 30, 2013 at 5:37 PM #

              I respect your opinion and thank you for the information. I do not profess to be right as I do not believe there is a right or wrong on the issue. Just opinion. Others will disagree with you. What has been flushed out is the hypocrisy of the Church – regardless of stats. The fact is they do not walk the talk and they have proved that. SO much for charity. I dont believe harm was done. How do you break the neck of an already broken neck? Through these articles and the preceding protest I have made more contacts and heard more opinions – in private- all of which prove to be edifying and valuable conversations – including with clergy from the ROC. I dont plan to publish any of it – though it would make an amazing read. I take counsel as well. I have received some ROC related stories that I may publish. All resulting from this action. That said, we have been working on SOCHI as well. I was one of the first to call for those boycotts if you reflect back on my BLOGS you will see my early call. We are working very hard behind the scenes on that. I have a unique article coming out relating to an aspect of the boycotts that will prove very interesting. I believe in tackling issue son all fronts. The Church was going to be a tiny quick action of expression and dialogue and has had more than its due for now. But one never knows what sources may be drawn from an action and where it might lead and as my beloved mother of brilliant memory used to say: :”Mel, you can NEVER be TOO Clever!” So be it!

              • NickNicholsonNYC August 30, 2013 at 5:55 PM #

                LOL! Thanks Mel. No argument that the hearts are all in the right place here! (Though my mother always said: “Nick, you’re too clever for your own good!”)

                • Melanie Nathan August 30, 2013 at 9:40 PM #


        • NickNicholsonNYC August 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM #

          Thanks, Lance. I’m glad someone else is looking at it from the larger POV.

        • Viktor September 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM #

          Cogent comment? Russian Church loving gays? Sure, like Igumen Sergiy (игумен Сергий, last name – Rybko (Рыбко)), who not only received an award from Kiril himself, but also has blessed the flag of an Orthodox homophobic group, which actually has physically attacked Russian LGBTs numerous times and is known mostly for that. If you search google by his name (including his last name), the photo of him blessing the flag with holy water and standing in front of it will come up.

          This is the same church that just a century ago was blessing the anti-Semitic Black Hundreds, aka the Society of St.Michael the Archangel. Not much has changed since then, aside from the victim of the church.

          • NickNicholsonNYC September 12, 2013 at 7:57 PM #

            Viktor, not arguing with you there–there are many people in the Russian Orthodox Church who are beyond objectionable, and even more people claim to represent the Orthodox Church and its beliefs who don’t.

            Even the ROC issued a recorded court statement against the “Orthodox Banner Bearers” (who are fascist homophobic terrorists) saying that their beliefs were “extreme, objectionable, an affront to dogma, and not within the beliefs of Orthodoxy.” But to dismiss an entire organization in which there is a wide range of opinion and thought by the behavior of a small group within it, or a small number of hierarchical figures is unfair.

            It is like dismissing America in its entirety because you don’t like Neo-Nazis in Oregon. (and I don’t, but I’m not blaming the country for them.)

          • Vladimir Vandalov September 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM #

            Dear Mr. Hogben,

            My curiosity is piqued by a comment in your response “Within Orthodoxy, persons of many sexual preferences are loved and included as equally deserving”. As an Orthodox Christian, I have yet to discover any official statement by an Orthodox hierarch that affirms the equality of LGBTQI individuals in the Church. Please be so kind to share a reference verifying your statement.

            Vladimir Vandalov

        • Vladimir Vandalov September 12, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

          In its September 12, 2013 (Issue 5211) edition, The Moscow Times published an article entitled “7 Villains of Russia’s Gay Rights Movement (Photo Essay)”. Any guess who received the infamous place of #3 among the 7 villains? It was sadly the Russian Orthodox Church. The article read:

          “The Russian Orthodox Church has colluded with the state in trying to shape a national identity based on conservative values. (Igor Tabakov / MT) Together with federal authorities, the Russian Orthodox Church is the main supporter of the anti-gay law, which it says will assist its attempts to shape a new national identity based on conservative values. The church’s active stance has raised new questions about the separation between church and state and whether it and the government is failing to uphold another law — the Russian Constitution and its promise of equal rights. The church also propagates the myth that homosexuality and pedophilia are synonymous.”

          Read more:
          The Moscow Times

      • Alexander October 11, 2013 at 4:10 AM #

        “Respect timing for people who are promoting the beating of gays through their lack of solicitude and dogma that bites”

        The Russian law doesn’t “promote beatings”, so knock off your sensationalizing. The law merely prohibits the propagandizing of the homo lifestyle.

        Queers are still free to bugger each other; they just can’t flaunt it in the streets where impressionable children might see it and be traumatized.

        • Melanie Nathan October 11, 2013 at 7:13 AM #

          Alexander you are an ignorant fool. Straight men bugger their wives all the time. I can introduce to a good many who have confessed their desires and the fact that their wives have responded to their sexual desires. Does that mean we must outlaw straight people just in case someone would have sex in front of a kid.

          The Russian LAW does promote beatings. Any law in any country that singles out a minority group or criminalizes a minority group in any way shape or form, including the BULLSHIT myth that gays hurt children just because they advertize they would like equality under the law – is a license and invitation to persecute. ANd that is exactly what is happening in Russia. So get over your bigotry, and try and find a way to accept the simple fact that all people, regardless of their sexuality should be treated equally under the law. That NO sexuality should be criminalized. Maybe Russia 100 years behind will wake or maybe it will continue its history of persecuting some group or another at any given point in time. It seems to be what you people enjoy doing?? Sadistic and sick.

          There is no such thing as a homo lifestyle – however there are differing sexual orientations. People who use the term homo lifestyle are bigotted by their ignorance. There – I gave you a good excuse for your bigptry – ignorance. Now do some real reading/ AND thank you for supoprting my BLOG through reading it and commenting. It is greatly appreciated when I can out ignorance.

  3. Vladimir Vandalov August 26, 2013 at 5:19 PM #

    Thank you, Melanie and all protesters, who courageously stood in defense against the anti-gay oppression against Russian LGBT citizens. Working closely with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Putin regime is deliberately playing to primitive stereotypes, ignorance and hatred of a conservative majority. It is tragic that the injustice and violence have a direct link to the Russian Orthodox Church. I am an Orthodox Christian in every fiber of my being, and my “gayness” is as intrinsic to me as every other aspect of me. I am ashamed of the the leadership of my church! To love is the commandment of Christ. Throughout the ages the Orthodox Church has changed its position on various pastoral issues, accepting new discoveries, adapting to contemporary situations, and showing mercy to its faithful. The Orthodox Church hopefully will soon choose to love, embrace and accept her LGBT children as Christ has already done. Until then, I will continue to fervently pray, hope and work for justice in the earthly Church. Thank you again to all of you for your courageous witness!

    • Melanie Nathan August 26, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

      we have taken a lot of flak with a lot of hate mail that I have kept private and so your comment and support means a great deal, thank you. We have also received positive support in private as well. Thank you,

  4. David Cartier August 26, 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    I was pointed here by a friend in Russia. He said that actions like this one against their church make the front page of papers in Russia and will cause more violence against Russian homosexuals.

    • Melanie Nathan August 26, 2013 at 9:10 PM #

      The violence against Russian gays is already bad. Maybe this publicity will make people have more of a conscience. If these are religious people why do they want to hurt gays just because some American is drawing attention to the awful laws? Surely the religious amongst your friends in Russia will sympathize with those who are harmed by others? And if not what is that Church worth. In all movements for change their are those who should not fall but end up falling – we call them martyrs – do Russians want to give us some martyrs? PLEASE!! I believe that those who want change are willing to take the risks the risks.

  5. Dr. Rex August 26, 2013 at 7:24 PM #

    Awesome!!! Wish I could have been there!!

  6. Dr. Rex August 26, 2013 at 7:25 PM #

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Actions and protests in SF — Castro!! Need to keep an eye on this!!

  7. veezy August 26, 2013 at 8:26 PM #

    LOVE THIS!! I would love to chat with you more. I have launched a video, photo and letter campaign. I would LOVE IT if you could help me get this off the ground.

    • Melanie Nathan August 26, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

      If you need help with anything you are welcome to write to me at I cant help you unless I know who you are and what you are doing. I need more details. Took the web address down because I dont dee where it fits this article. But please feel free to email me.

      • [email protected] August 30, 2013 at 9:26 AM #

        Come to Cyprus and try your games and we will hang you disgusting perverts out to dry. And that is a threat!

        • Melanie Nathan August 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM #

          Usually I dont out up such hateful comments, but once in a while I will – to show that people who call themselves Christians such as you are not G-d’s true messenger’s but the devil incarnate – purveyors of hate. I though the Church was about G-d’s love of all G-d’s children. So perhaps you can write back and reassure us that you are NOT really a Christian or must we believe that G-d disguises the devil in the shape of devout Orthodoxy or Christianity? And if perhaps this is a little above you…never mind!

  8. Mari&Cheyenne August 27, 2013 at 3:01 AM #

    What an amazing protest!!
    I wish was there :D

  9. KS August 27, 2013 at 5:33 AM #

    Thank you so much for support of Russian LGBT!
    From Russia with love!

  10. October 17, 2013 at 1:00 PM #

    Whenn I initially left a cpmment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with
    the same comment. There has to be a way you cann remove me from that service?

    • Melanie Nathan October 17, 2013 at 2:37 PM #

      OY I had no idea there was such a thing. Let me see what I can do. Sorry.

  11. Muhammad June 15, 2014 at 8:47 AM #

    Sharia Law will eradicate all enemies of Islam. We will exterminate all kuf’r and transgressors of the Holy Qur’an. Islam is the future, you are the past. People of the Book may run away from you, but we will fill your streets with amreekan blood. Allah’u Akbar! Death to america.

    • Melanie Nathan June 15, 2014 at 8:59 AM #

      I feel sad for you dear friend. You speak of your religion as if it is one of hate? What kind of way is that to talk? The Muslim people I have known and met DO NOT feel the way you do and you do little more than give Islam a bad name. I do not have religious law that requires my blood to boil with hate. I have a loving God. One who accepts and loves all – including you, my dear friend. Now go take bath, calm down, get rid of the venom inside you. May you find peace fro a heart infused with hate,. Poor poor poor you!


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