Bury Pride … The Great British Bear Bash … Why One Gay Couple Fled Russia

News

Bury Pride

Bury Pride on 30 April was the first event of Pride Season 2022.

It took place at the Castle Armoury Drill Hall and included a line up of tribute acts and drag queens as well as the Walking Rainbow Parade. This was lead by Councillor and Mayor Tim Pickstone and attracted a large amount of interest from people within the town centre and shopping areas.

There were many information stalls ranging from The Beaumont Society (transgender support group formed in 1966) to the Proud Trust LGBT+ Youth Services.

See photos here.

The weather was fabulous and we are looking forward to Pride on the Range (Whalley Range Pride) on 6 – 8 May and Pride in Trafford on 17 – 21 May.

The Great British Bear Bash

The UK’s biggest bear event returned to Manchester. Four days of friends, fun and fur.

With a favourable weather forecast in prospect, the event promises to bring a very special atmosphere across the May Bank Holiday weekend.

The Great British Bear Bash is the UK’s biggest bear community event. It is attended by bears, cubs, chubs, otters, pups and chasers from across the UK and even further afield.

It’s the perfect event to meet old friends and make new ones. Have a drink, a coffee, a dance, a pizza or even a cuddle.

The main event venues included: The Rem Bar, Cruz 101, Eagle Bar, Via, Cockatoo Club and The Basement Sauna. Throughout the weekend the bears will party, eat, drink and relax in venues across Manchester’s gay village and the organisers are pleased to support The LGBT Foundation.

‘War gave us the final push’: Why one gay couple fled Russia for Turkey

An estimated 200,000 Russians have left their country since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February.

Among those fleeing are Dima and Mitya, who made their way to Turkey – one of the few countries Russians can enter visa-free. Being a gay couple and feeling the pressure of Russia’s newly enacted anti-gay federal laws, they had already been thinking about leaving the country.

Turkey’s record on LGBT+ rights is little better than Russia’s. All the same, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was the final straw for Dima and Mitya.

‘It was [already] really hard living in Russia,” says Dima. “But now there is no life in Russia at all.”

Dima and his partner Mitya are among an estimated 200,000 Russians who have left their country. Many fear further crackdowns on anti-war dissent, and the possibility that forced conscription could be introduced.

But there are limited options for destination countries; the EU, the US and the UK have all closed their airspace to Russian planes. So Russians are largely travelling to neighbouring countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, including Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.

Dima and Mitya booked their flights as soon as they heard about Putin’s speech about a “special military operation”. Being a gay couple and feeling the pressure of Russia’s newly enacted anti-gay federal laws, they had already been thinking about leaving the country. “A lot of LGBT activists were punished, going to jail,” said Dima.

Turkey and Russia have been ranked among the worst places to live in Europe for LGBT+ people by advocacy group ILGA-Europe. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government frequently target LGBT+ groups, and the government-influenced media often spreads disinformation about LGBT+ activists.

Still, the country – and especially its biggest city, Istanbul – has become a ‘hub’ for mostly young and progressive Russians, including LGBT+ people, either to settle in or to wait for the results of EU visa applications.

Mitya talked about how his Ukrainian friends posted on social media during the first days of the war, accusing all Russians of being responsible. “I do understand these people, they lost their homes, they’re being bombed, but I really want them to understand that there is nothing we could do about it,” he said, “The only thing we could do was to show our protest and show that we could never accept that.”

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