In 2008, after 55 years together, Del Martin, age 87, and Phyllis Lyon, age 84, were finally wed in San Francisco, but it was for the second time. Four years earlier, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state of California, during a large ceremony honoring their long-standing contributions to LGBTQ activism, they were the first of 90 gay couples to be married illegally by the city’s then-mayor Gavin Newsom.
When Martin and Phyllis made their initial vows as San Francisco’s first same-sex couple, the ceremony was conducted so that their union could potentially be included in a lawsuit to champion marriage equality in the United States. The director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, invited them with this promise: “This will hopefully be the last thing the movement will ever ask you to do, but do you wanna get married?”
As lesbian history was unfolding in the 1950s, it was Del and Phyllis who gathered in the home of their friend Rose Bamberger and her partner Rosemary Sliepen and founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian organization in the country. Martin and Lyon would soon become co-editors of the Ladder, DOB’s publication, and grow the readership even amid an era of pervasive homophobia. The pair was also the first lesbian couple to join the National Organization for Women, as feminist causes also spurred their organizing work.
Over the next five decades, Martin and Lyon never stopped organizing, and gradually, thanks in no small part to their efforts, LGBTQ visibility shifted from secrecy to “out and proud” activism.
There’s a limit to what any one person can accomplish in her time on earth. Marcia Freedman managed to blow right past the limit and just kept going.
Pioneering feminist, LGBTQ activist, Knesset member, author and co-founder of an esteemed Middle East peace organization, Marcia Freedman died Sept. 21 in Berkeley. She was 83.
“She was quiet and wise,” said Janis Plotkin, who decades ago recruited Freedman to serve on the board of the S.F. Jewish Film Festival. “She was a little woman but a giant in terms of intellect, kindness, thoughtfulness and her strategic approach to problem-solving.”
Freedman’s social and political activism took many forms. Much of her work centered on Israeli politics and seeking to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. She argued for a two-state solution long before it became a stated policy objective. As a young olah (immigrant) and member of Knesset, the state of Israel’s legislature, she also fostered groundbreaking women’s rights legislation, going toe to toe with her misogynist male colleagues.
Yulia Tsvetkova is a young Russian artist and activist from Komsomolsk on the Amur (a city in the extreme east of Russia), who has suffered a homophobic and sexist campaign since March 2019, for defending the rights of women and LGBTI people.
She is accused of committing a crime of “production and dissemination of pornographic material” as a result of drawings of real women which she posted on social media as part of her activism. The criminal trial began on April 12 and she faces up to six years in prison. Given the desperate situation in which she finds herself, Yulia announced that she was on hunger strike on May 1, demanding that the process be sped up, the appointment of a public defender and the opening up of the trial, the hearings of which are held behind closed doors with all media excluded.
Unfortunately, since the process began, Yulia has been the target of homophobic attacks from various people, and of harassment and threats over the phone, on social media and by mail. In addition, she suffered harassment by the Russian police for more than a year, including arbitrary detention, searches at her home and workplace, an enforced psychiatric examination, and almost 4 months of house arrest during which time she could not get necessary medical care.
Previously, in December 2019, she was found guilty of committing an administrative offense, for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations between minors”, and was fined 50,000 rubles (780 US dollars) for being the administrator of two LGBTI communities online in the Russian social network VKontakte.
In January 2020 a new administrative action was initiated against her for publishing his drawing on social networks “Family is where love is. Support LGBTI Families”, which represents two same-sex couples with sons and daughters. For this, Yulia was found guilty in July 2020, and was fined again. In parallel, that same month, administrative proceedings for the same type of offense were initiated for the third time. (Translated)
Yulia Tsvetkova es una joven artista y activista rusa de Komsomolsk del Amur (ciudad del extremo oriental de Rusia), que desde marzo de 2019 sufre una campaña homófoba y machista por defender los derechos de las mujeres y las personas LGBTI. Está acusada de cometer un delito de “producción y difusión de material pornográfico” a raíz de unos dibujos de mujeres reales que publicó en las redes sociales como parte de su activismo. El juicio penal comenzó el pasado 12 de abril y se enfrenta a hasta seis años de cárcel. Ante la desesperada situación en la que se encuentra, Yulia anunció el 1 de mayo una huelga de hambre, exigiendo celeridad en su proceso, la personación de un defensor público y la apertura del juicio, ya que actualmente las vistas se celebran a puerta cerrada (tampoco hay prensa).
Lamentablemente, desde que se inició el proceso Yulia ha sido objeto de ataques homófobos de distintas personas, y de acoso y amenazas por teléfono, en redes sociales y por correo. Además, sufrió acoso por parte de la policía rusa durante más de un año, incluyendo una detención arbitraria, registros en su domicilio y su lugar de trabajo, sometimiento a un examen psiquiátrico, y un arresto domiciliario de casi cuatro meses durante el que no pudo recibir la atención médica que necesitaba.
Con anterioridad, en diciembre de 2019 fue declarada culpable de cometer una infracción administrativa, por “propaganda de relaciones sexuales no tradicionales entre menores”, y fue multada con 50.000 rublos (780 dólares estadounidenses) por ser administradora de dos comunidades LGBTI en línea en la red social rusa VKontakte.
Y en enero de 2020 se inició una nueva actuación administrativa en su contra por publicar en las redes sociales su dibujo “La familia es donde está el amor. Apoye a las familias LGBTI”, que representa a dos parejas del mismo sexo con hijos e hijas. Por este hecho, Yulia fue declarada culpable en julio de 2020, siendo de nuevo multada. En paralelo, ese mismo mes, se iniciaron por tercera vez actuaciones administrativas por el mismo tipo de infracción. (Original)
“I feel that today there are so many invisible female political prisoners: mothers, wives – women who bear an incredible burden thanks to political trials,” says Russian artist Yulia Tsvetkova, who’s been designated a political prisoner by the Memorial human rights association. “Political prisoners are heroes, but women are the invisible service staff.”
Tsvetkova, a theatre director, feminist and LGBT activist, has had time to reflect. In October 2019, she was interrogated in her hometown of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and in November her social media posts led to her flat and theatre studio being searched for evidence of pornography. Tsvetkova was charged with spreading pornography and has been under house arrest since 23 November last year.
As part of the investigation, Tsvetkova has been accused of spreading “homosexual propaganda” among underage people and fined 50,000 roubles (£500). Tsvetkova has run several educational projects in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, as well as a youth theatre, online groups on feminism and sex education for young people and a Vagina Monologues group which celebrated the power and uniqueness of the female body.
In March this year, a district council reduced the charge against Tsvetkova and released her from house arrest on the basis that she would not leave the country. But Tsvetkova is still charged with spreading pornography for publishing illustrated educational material, for which she can be given a two-to-six-year prison sentence.
What’s happening with the persecution of activists and people who openly talk about sexual minorities, feminism, human rights and sexuality? To what extent do you feel that these issues are taboo in Russia and how this situation can change in the future?
I am the person who they started persecuting when I created The Pink and the Blue, a show about gender stereotypes which I put on at the Merak theatre. And I feel that this already says a lot.
I believe that a lot depends on culture, or rather, lack of it. For example, I needed an ambulance after my arrest and the medics that examined me asked about my case and also, whether I was a paedophile. These aren’t bad people; they just lack culture. People are curious – I can understand that: my case is unprecedented in our city. Because I have short hair, I’ve been asked four times on the street whether I’m male or female. When that happens, I feel shock and embarrassment. And people just don’t see that I’m embarrassed and that haircuts don’t define gender.
The question of my sexual orientation comes up at nearly every police interrogation. The need to physically examine me, for example, is all to do with the fact that I’m a lesbian. And as for my case, there seems to be an idea that the female body is public property. I’ve heard cops going on about how we should be having kids, not displaying our vaginas. But even if I wanted to display my vagina, it’s my right and my vagina.
Yulia Tsvetkova, who was charged with spreading “gay propaganda” among minors three times in less than a year, was fined by a court in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Friday (July 10).
Vladimir Putin and his government banned so-called “gay propaganda” in 2013, prohibiting the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”. Under his rule, sharing information about LGBT+ people’s lives can earn a person a prison sentence.
Tsvetkova was prosecuted for her colourful drawings showing LGBT+ relationships. One of the drawings, called “A family where love is”, shows gay and lesbian couples with their children.
She was also investigated for running a social-media page called Vagina Monologues, which encourages people to share artistic depictions of vaginas in order to “remove the taboo”.
The 27-year-old is facing a criminal trial for the offence of pornography after posting drawings of vaginas online in this group.
If convicted on these charges, Tsvetkova faces six years in prison.
A second case was drawn up against Julia Tsvetkova, a feminist and artist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, alleging promotion of “gay propaganda” among minors – because of the picture in support of LGBT families “Family is where there is love” and other materials in relation to this topic. RFI reported the news about Julia Tsvetkova on July 2.
A third case alleging promotion of homosexuality has been opened against artist and LGBT activist Julia Tsvetkova, as reported on her Facebook wall. The trigger for the case is the picture published by Julia for the flashmob #Yes I choose, which was launched on social networks in response to a video promoting amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation with the involvement of same-sex families.
“With the previous administration, the investigation took six months. Therefore, it is too early to talk about the protocol, the court and the fine in the context of the new case. Is it possible this case won’t reach court? I doubt it. My predictions are that they will dig and dig for everything they want. So far it works that way. What is this about? The fact that they are not far behind me? That the country is homophobic? That a shell can hit three times in one place? That all this is not ok? Why state the obvious? This is probably all I can say now. And also, that I will not choose a country in which three charges are laid just to oppose the idea that “Family is where there is love,” Tsvetkova noted.
На феминистку и художницу из Комсомольска-на-Амуре Юлию Цветкову составили новый протокол о «гей-пропаганде» среди несовершеннолетних — из-за картинки в поддержку ЛГБТ-семей «Семья там, где любовь» и других материалов на эту тему Вконтакте. Об этом Юлия Цветкова 2 июля сообщила RFI.
На художницу и ЛГБТ-активистку Юлию Цветкову заведено третье административное дело о пропаганде гомосексуализма. Она сообщила об этом на своей странице в фейсбуке. Причиной послужила картинка, опубликованная девушкой в рамках флешмоба #ДаВыберу, который был запущен в соцсетях в ответ на ролик за поправки в Конституцию РФ с участием однополой семьи.
«По предыдущей административке проведение экспертизы заняло полгода. Поэтому говорить о протоколе, суде и штрафе в рамках нового дела пока рано. Может ли это дело не дойти до суда? Сомневаюсь. Мои прогнозы, что копать будут и накопают все, что хотят. Пока это работает именно так. О чем это говорит? О том, что от меня не отстали? О том, что страна гомофобна? О том, что снаряд может трижды ударить в одно место? О том, что все это не ок? Зачем проговаривать очевидное? Наверное, это все, что я могу сказать сейчас. А еще, что я не выберу страну, в которой за идею “Семья там, где любовь” с подачи ФСБ заводят уже третье дело подряд», — отметила Цветкова.
Russian police on Saturday detained more than 30 people, most of them women, who were staging separate one-person protests in central Moscow against charges of spreading pornography levelled against a prominent LGBT activist, a monitoring group said.
One activist was also detained in St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, which monitors law enforcement issues in Russia.
Earlier this month, police in the Russian far east charged Julia Tsvetkova, an LGBT and feminist activist, with spreading pornography via her pictures, she said on her Facebook page.
If found guilty, Tsvetkova may face up to six years in prison.
A lesbian artist has spent months under house arrest and is facing fines and six years jail, just for publishing innocent images in Russia.
Yulja Tsvetkova faces three separate trials. Under the first, Russia has charged her with ‘pornography’, with a penalty of up to six years in prison. Moreover, she also faces two trials for LGBT+ ‘propaganda’ – with a fine of 50 million rubles (€600 $625) for each one.
But despite all this, Tsvetkova told GSN that she would continue her artistic work and fight for LGBT+ people.
In the pornography case, Tsvetkova posted a drawing of a vagina in a social media page about body positivity. The page features many figurative and artistic images of vaginas. They wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery and certainly aren’t pornographic.
In addition, the 26-year-old published articles on queer culture, supporting LGBT+ youth and discrimination for LGBT+ people in Russia on a social media group. That earned her one charge of distributing LGBT+ ‘propaganda’.
The other ‘propaganda’ charge came after Tsvetkova drew an illustration of a lesbian and gay couple with kids.
Kazakhstan: Zhanar Sekerbaeva, prominent LGBT activist from Kazakhstan and co-founder of feminist initiative Feminita, based in Almaty, was detained on Wednesday, August 14, 2018. According to Feminita, Zhanar, together with Elena Ivanova, Alina Nevidimko and Polina Pollinium, organized photo session at Arbat street in Almaty on August 9th, 2018, dedicated to de-stigmatization of menstruation that attracted a lot of attention both online and during the session itself. Despite that the photo session was peaceful, it was interrupted by men, who pulled out posters in aggressive manner and threatened to take away mobile phone from one of the participant. The participants decided to leave the venue since they did not want to become witnesses of the violence.
Being gay in Kenya is risky. This is according to Gigi Louisa, a 28-year-old Kenyan lesbian who has shared her experience of living in Kenya’s conservative society. The LGBQT activist is on a mission to fight for gay rights in Kenya. In an interview with the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), she said she always has to be careful.
“It’s good to remember that activism works,” she tells me, “because everyone needs a sense of hope right now.” Cogswell and her former Lesbian Avenger cohorts are hopeful the exhibition will help reignite that DIY activist spark, and bridge the gap between the movement’s history and our current challenges.