Being gay in America is not like it used to be. Less than 50 years ago, very few businesses welcomed openly gay people – even in New York City. It wasn’t until the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that the modern gay rights movement became a subject of mainstream political discourse. It would be almost 35 years later before Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2003. I’m only 24 years old but I can remember when Ellen DeGeneres was effectively driven off primetime television for coming out publicly.
Although many years have passed since Stonewall, you could get whiplash trying to follow how quickly the debate has shifted. The US Supreme Court this year struck down DOMA, a law signed by Bill Clinton with broad bi-partisan support only 17 years ago. Today, same-sex marriage is recognized in thirteen states and several more are considering policy that will increase that number. It gets easier to be gay in America every single year, each new milestone compounding on the last, until the steadfast convictions of the previous generation seem almost unthinkable today.
That said, there are still many countries around the world that haven’t changed their minds about LGBT equality as fast as the United States. Russia’s recent anti-gay legislation has garnered an outpouring of support from LGBT groups all over the world. Many are expressing the same frustrations that manifested into the Stonewall Riots in 1969. This Thursday, September 12 the fight returns to Stonewall at a burlesque benefit for the Russian LGBT Network.
Russian Pride NYC is a burlesque and variety show from New York City and an “expression of love and support to our brothers and sisters in Russia”. All proceeds will go to The Russian LGBT Network. If you’re in New York City this week and you want to show your support, you are guaranteed a night of amazing burlesque, dance, song, Russian disco, rage, and beauty at a historic location for gay rights.
The Royal Baritarian Players, a happily married boylesque duo from New York City, are co-producing the event. One of them, Lawrence Gullo, was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself, his inspiration and the upcoming Russian Pride benefit on Thursday: