Russia has long been a hostile environment for queer people. While many countries have moved forward in securing civil liberties for and protecting LGBTQs, the “motherland” has continuously regressed, using anti-gay legislation to ban homosexuality. In 2013, a law was passed banning “gay propaganda,” which includes the rainbow pride flag.
Over the course of the last month, the World Cup has swept through Russia, with soccer fans from all over the world flocking to the hostile country—serendipitously, during Pride month. This past week, a group of activists from across the globe made a bright statement by “hiding” a pride flag in the World Cup crowd — with colorful soccer jerseys.
The six activists sported red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple jerseys and took photos in front of Russia’s most iconic tourist sites. The group is from FELGTB, a Spanish organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights and protections.
On the project, called Hidden Flag, they wrote:
“When Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in 1978, he did so to create a symbol and an icon for the LGBT community. A symbol, recognisable across the world, that people could use to express their pride. Unfortunately, 40 years later, there are still countries in which homosexuality is persecuted, sometimes even by jail sentences, and in which the rainbow flag is forbidden. Russia is one of these countries.”
“Because of this,” they continue, “we have taken advantage of the fact the country is hosting the World Cup at the same time as Pride Month, to denounce their behaviour and take the rainbow flag to the streets of Russia. Yes, in the plain light of day, in front of the Russian authorities, Russian society and the whole world, we wave the flag with pride. How? In a way that no one would ever suspect. Football shirts.”
Six LGBTQ activists representing six different countries (Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia) formed a flag “that toured around iconic sites in Russia, traveling to every corner to fight against a struggle that will never be silenced.”
Fans went wild for the activists on social media, singing their praises of the bold statement.