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    Ann Rostow: Raids in Moscow as High Court Outlaws GLBT Activities

    By Ann Rostow–

    Raids in Moscow as High Court Outlaws GLBT Activities

    In an extraordinary move, on November 30, Russia’s highest court ruled that the “international LGBT social movement,” a generic designation for all people in the world who support GLBT rights, is an “extremist group.” The decision came after the nation’s justice ministry asked for a formal judgment, and signals an end to all public activism and media acknowledgement of the gay community in the country. 

    According to Human Rights Watch, anyone associated with an “extremist organization” in Russia could face jail time. Displaying a pride flag might get you a couple of weeks, while organizing or activism could land you behind bars for a decade or more. It would not be unthinkable for authorities to dig up someone’s old social media posts and use them as grounds for disciplinary action. 

    Indeed, as the Associated Press and others reported, on the night after the ruling, Moscow police raided several gay-friendly nightclubs, bars, and saunas, ostensibly looking for drugs and photographing people’s IDs without consent. A few clubs have decided to close rather than attempt to do business under these new circumstances. 

    I have dozens of articles and outraged quotes from various international human rights spokespeople, but I was particularly struck by a little item about the online movie database “Kinipoisk,” which immediately changed its rating on the animated film, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, to adults over 18. The new guidance, believed to be a direct result of the ruling, was provided with no explanation, but one of the little ponies, “Dash,” has a rainbow mane and tail. 

    Hey, even those of you readers without kids recognize that the “My Little Pony” franchise is aimed at pre-teen children, mostly girls, and features cartoon ponies along with their plastic replicas and paraphernalia. If you are over 18 and deliberately watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic without a small child by your side, you have your own problems in addition to the civil rights violations imposed by the state. And while our jaws may drop at this latest Putin-esque holier-than-thou family posturing, we recognize now that parts of our country are not that far behind. 

    A little over 10 years ago, we were astonished by the “don’t say gay” bill in St. Petersburg, and subsequently by the version that spread throughout Russia. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen our own home-grown censorship move from Florida’s grade schools to the state’s entire public school system, and now to other red states. What else is coming our way? 

    In fact, I was just reading about a proposed Florida bill that would forbid the state from funding any contract or organization that recognizes sexual orientation or gender, a restriction so preposterous that I normally wouldn’t even cover it. Every year there are lots of crazy anti-GLBT bills that go nowhere, and I have not seen the point in adding their details to the muddy waters of our legislative threats. 

    This one “would effectively ban all LGBTQ nonprofits in the state,” said Harvard Law Professor Allejandra Caraballo on Threads; she called it “horrifying.” What’s horrifying is that I have to start covering these proposals as they slouch from the fringe towards the realm of the possible, perhaps to be born. 

    Procrastination in Action

    I don’t want to write about depressing cases of gay and trans bashing, and I don’t want to think about the bizarre antisemitism coming from the left and I really, really don’t want to look at those “must-read” articles about how the prospect of a second Trump term is something we all must prepare for. I feel as if I have a 25 percent chance of having some terminal disease; I’m waiting for the test results, and everyone is insisting that I read lengthy detailed articles about the dismal prospects of people who get said disease. I’d rather not, thanks.

    Plus, it’s Christmas; one of the rare moments when life seems to pause a bit and our colorful GLBT world settles in for a festive period of glitter and rainbows and champagne. Instead of news, we can rehash our favorite holiday topics: Hallmark movies, or perhaps our annual critique of the people who make rubber car floor mats and try to convince the TV audience that their products are potential Christmas gifts. I know! Gold, frankincense, myrrh, WeatherTech seat covers. Toss in a roll of paper towels and a can of Windex and watch your wife’s face light up with delight. 

    Speaking of paper towels, may I add that those commercials for Bounty towels are irritating. I’m speaking of the ones where something spills, everyone screams in slow motion, and the sturdy towel arrives in time to prevent the spill from spreading. But people! Just move the thing first and avoid the possible damage. In particular, when water is heading for your multi-million dollar winning lottery ticket, don’t look for the paper towels. Pick up the ticket and move it away from the water. Then, and only then, get the towels. 

    You may be wondering why I watch so much commercial TV. It’s mostly live sports, but I digress.


    Here’s a one-sentence/per item recap of my main news list to illustrate my professional dilemma: Virginia kids win $10,000 GLBT grant for a project but authorities reject the cash. Not many people go to the Gay Games. NBA player Dwight Howard had sex with some guy, but he says it was consensual not abuse. A bunch of GLBT people won elections last month. I hate the use of the expression “melty cheese” in commercials; the word is “melted,” not “melty,” unless we’re all toddlers. 

    Deep breath.

    Raids in Moscow (because I forgot to delete this item after I wrote about it). The head of the Florida Republican Party whose wife was a founding member of Moms for Liberty has been accused of raping a woman whom he and his wife both had sex with. I think we’ll be returning to that last one. Lawsuit filed against Iowa book ban. International cricket group bans trans women from competition. Gay fuzzy hackers attack government database. Bad things happening to gay people in Jordan. The Washington Post reports on a new fetish that involves people who want to be dominated by MAGA masters and mistresses who humiliate them for being weak libtards (and vice versa). 

    Where would I start? That Florida GOP story is a bit of a show stopper, so I think I’ll end with that, and the other ones are all so different. I like to put things in a larger context, but I’m not in the mood for sports, or law, or more negative news from foreign places. If I go with libtard S&M or gay fuzzies (who tweeted “meow meow meow meow” after their last attack), I’m doing a disservice to the fine advocates fighting censorship in Iowa. And cricket is just a black hole to me. I have tried to understand that sport many times over a long time span and it’s still impenetrable and it feels, deliberately so, like a club that doesn’t want me to be included. Matches that last for days. Players staying at bat forever. Everyone wearing those same tennis sweaters. Hundreds of runs for reasons unclear. Don’t get me started. 

    Have You Heard the One About

    I’ve also got other stories; we’ll call them floaters. The Spanish motorcycle racer who joked with an interviewer that whoever loses a motorcycle race is a faggot. Who cares? Who cares about Spanish motorcycle racing or motorcycle racing in general? What? You care? Sorry, man.

    Speaking of jokes, my son in law told a good one at a family wedding the other day. A moth walks into a podiatrist’s office. 

    “What can I do for you?” the podiatrist asks. 

    “Well doc,” the moth says, “I’ve been having a hell of a time lately. I go to the same job I’ve held for years and push around some meaningless paper and go home each evening. My wife is bored with me and my son looks at me with such disdain in his eyes I can barely stand to see it. I eat some leftovers, I watch some re-runs on TV, and I drink two or three big glasses of whiskey so I can get to sleep at night. I’m barely functioning and sometimes I lie in bed wondering if I could ever find the strength to take the 45 I keep loaded in my bedside table out of the drawer, go downstairs, and end it all … .”

    “Look, it sounds as if you might need a psychiatrist,” the podiatrist says. “Why did you come to my office?”

    “The light was on.”

    On That Note

    So, let’s talk about Moms for Liberty. This nasty little operation was founded in January 2021, by conservative Florida activists to protest COVID-19 restrictions, mask requirements, and school closures. It devolved into a really nasty type of antigay and anti-trans activism, premised on a benign-sounding commitment to “parental rights,” and energized by the rightward trend of DeSantis-style Florida politics. Moms for Liberty has since expanded into most of the other states, although the group, with its insane book banning and toxic rhetoric, has lost momentum in recent months. Last month, for example, Moms for Liberty lost 70 percent of their school board races.

    I don’t know if you remember a story I wrote a few months back about my stepdaughter, who went to bat with her friends and colleagues against a Moms for Liberty effort to oust a transgender high school tennis coach near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to that, I thought these characters were mainly banning books in the Sunshine State, but no, they’re all over the place and they have been running amok.

    Lately, a few of them posed for pictures with Proud Boys and had to be dropped from leadership positions for “lack of judgment and misalignment with our core values.” Earlier, someone “accidentally” quoted Hitler in one of their brochures. And when I checked out their background on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation website, I found far too many incidents to list here. Basically, each new little cell is a law under itself, and the top people are obliged to mop up some fascistic incident on aisle three every week or so.

    These are not public servants or well-meaning citizen activists. They are hateful self-righteous know-nothings wielding local power that they have amassed while the normal Moms were busy making dinner, taking the kids to soccer, and going to their jobs. 

    In that context, how interesting to discover that one of the three main founders of Moms for Liberty, Bridget Ziegler, has admitted in an affidavit that she had a three-way tryst with her husband and another woman over a year ago. Ziegler’s husband, Christian Ziegler, who is Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, is now accused of raping that same woman when he was alone with her at her house on October 2. The news was uncovered by The Florida Trident, an arm of the Florida Center for Government Accountability. According to a December 5 report, a judge has found probable cause that Ziegler assaulted the woman, a first-degree felony with a sentence of up to 30 years.

    According to the information on the Trident website, Ziegler had known this woman for 20 years. On October 2, he texted that he wanted to come over for another three-way and the woman reluctantly agreed. Later, Ziegler said it would just be him coming over, and the woman said she’s rather skip it and was more into Bridget than Christian. Christian arrived by himself anyway, came in, and raped the woman on a piece of furniture taking a video while he did so. It’s not clear if that video still exists, but the whole thing is pretty horrific. 

    Bridget Ziegler herself stepped down from her position at Moms for Liberty in late 2021 but stayed on the advisory board. She now runs a project that (God help us) recruits and trains conservative candidates for school board positions.

    GLBT Fortnight in Review
    Published on December 7, 2023