Antwerp Belgium’s ‘To Russia with Love’ Kiss-In Sends Powerful Message to Russia

Photo by Passport.

Photo by Joseph Pedro.

It was the closing weekend of the World Out Games in Antwerp, Belgium where thousands of LGBT (and straight) athletes came to the Flemish city to compete, cheer, have fun, and party. And while the same week, a human rights conference was also held, the games were more jovial than political. That was until flyers quickly began being distributed calling for action against Russia. It read: “The laws that recently have been passed in Russia against the promotion of gay lifestyle condone the bullying of and violence towards LGBTQ people in an unprecedented way. This has to stop! People are being imprisoned for being who they are and for standing up for their friends and family.”

The flyers, called for a kiss-in and with athletes from over 20 countries, it wasn’t hard convincing people to meet up Friday evening in front of the country’s Russian embassy. A couple hundred men, women, and even children arrived under clear-blue skies on the posh embassy street to either swap saliva or (for those there alone: ahem—me) stand in solidarity. Members of teams from Mexico to Russia (who had a nice-sized delegation in attendance) came out as well as government officials like the Vice Mayor of Antwerp Philip Haylen and the organizer of St. Petersburg Pride.

When the music began, the crowd smooched and a powerful sense of unity was shown through loving eyes and wet lips. We all tied ribbons to the gates of the embassy and many waited around. Maybe to show more support, or maybe to find someone else to lock lips with. One can only hope, though, that next year, at the games in Sochi, all nationalities, races, religions, and sexual orientations will feel as welcomed and accepted as those here felt at the third-annual Out Games.

Gallery of photos after the jump…

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