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Come out of the closet if you want to help Russian gays, activists tell John Baird

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Come out of the closet if you want to help Russian gays, activists tell John Baird

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Further demonstrations planned as pressure mounts on International Olympic Committee and Olympic sponsors
 
On the heels of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s strong condemnation of Russia’s anti-gay laws, Ontario NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and others are calling on him to come out publicly as a gay man.
 
DiNovo made the comments at the #TOwithRussia solidarity march in Toronto on Aug 3, which was part of an international day of protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws. The event attracted about 400 people who marched from Church and Wellesley streets to the Russian consulate at Church and Bloor streets, where many left messages in chalk at the entrance and rainbow flags draped over the front doors. (See Xtra's video coverage here.)
 
DiNovo joined Liberal MPP Glen Murray and NDP MP Craig Scott, who both gave passionate speeches demanding action by the Canadian government and the International Olympic Committee.
 
“Now we need [Baird] to stand up,” DiNovo says. “We have an openly gay foreign minister. We want him to go to Russia, stand on Russian soil and say, ‘I’m gay. Deal with it.’”
 
And DiNovo is not alone. Roy Mitchell, one of the organizers of the march, sent a letter to Baird imploring him to come out as a proud gay man. Coming out would be inspiring for queer Canadians, Mitchell says, and would have an international impact.
 
“The one thing that was loud and clear was a call for John to come out as a gay man. It's not secret, and I have no idea why he hasn't yet,” Mitchell wrote to Baird’s press secretary, Rick Roth. Mitchell says Roth did not address Baird’s sexuality in the response.
 
Mitchell says that while Baird’s sexuality shouldn’t matter, it does. “The message he would send if he came out would save lives here.”
 
Baird, whose sexuality has been discussed in mainstream media as an open secret, has never actually come out — and he has declined Xtra's repeated requests for an interview.
 
Last week Baird blasted Russia for its controversial new anti-gay law, calling it hateful and noting it could incite violence.
 
Meanwhile, following the success of the #TOwithRussia march, organizers formed a new activist group under the same name and vowed to keep making noise about the homophobia and violence sweeping Russia. 
 
Nadine Tkatchevskaia, who moved to Canada from Saint Petersburg in 2001 and is one of the organizers of #TOwithRussia, says Russian activists are asking the international community for help. “There is a large amount of hope but also an understanding that more needs to be done to pressure the Russian government,” she says. “I think actions that are generated through the community are some of the most important forms of solidarity we can show.
 
“As someone who grew up in Russia and has seen the homophobia firsthand, one of the most important things is to demonstrate to the Russian queer community that they aren't alone in the fight.”
 
Tkatchevskaia, who didn’t come out until moving to Canada, says she would like to see more Russian Canadians speak up. Unfortunately, she says, homophobia is part of the cultural fabric of Russia, so even those who immigrate to Canada bring those prejudices with them. “I didn't actually know what being out meant when I lived in Russia,” she says. “In the early 2000s, there was virtually no information about queer people, and if anything was indeed published it was negative.”
 
Mitchell says there has been a groundswell of both anger and support in Canada, especially considering that hundreds of people came out on the Saturday night of a long weekend. “I was surprised by the number of people that attended, but not by their sense of justice,” he says. “I love that.”
 
Organizers are already planning the next action in order to continue the momentum. Tkatchevskaia wants to see future demonstrations at the Canadian Olympic Committee offices, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the Olympic sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, VISA and Panasonic.
 
The group will meet at the 519 Church Street Community Centre on Aug 14 at 7pm for a town-hall meeting to brainstorm ideas. Also, a Facebook group has been created.
 

Comments

Thanks, John
Leave Baird alone. I'm not a Tory supporter, but I respect his right to privacy regarding his sexuality. He has done great things for LGBTI persons. Thanks, John http://stories4hotbloodedlesbians.com
Shameful churlishness demonstrated
I'm not a fan, personally or politically, of John Baird. But I think it makes us better persons when we can recognize that an opponent has worked hard on something that a good portion of his party's base doesn't share his views with. I was pretty sure that Xtra and other would find a way to suggest that Baird was not doing enough/the correct thing. He was criticized for denouncing Uganda for it's "death for gays" bill. Now, he's not doing enough because he isn't "out" enough. I'm starting to feel sorry for him, and I don't like that. I am left with the distinct impression that he could cure AIDS and end homophobia on this earth tomorrow, and still stand accused of acting unilaterally, consulting insufficiently and perpetuating hatred against beneficial microorganisms.
Brilliant response!
'nuff said!
Excellent responses below!
Finally gay intelligence shines through! Yay!
It's Just Wrong (and so are you)
To invade someone's privacy and announce any aspect of their lives which they do not wish to share with the world is wrong. You might think that what has happened here is no more harmful than telling another individual gossip regarding a friend, but this is far more insidious. Someone's sexuality, or any of the other major facets of their lives, is entirely up to them to disclose. This invasion of privacy and the outing of a man whom we now know little about aside from his sexuality is a symptom of a society which puts little to no value on privacy. There is a reason why he did not come out in his own time, and he has now been stripped of the most basic rights, the right to love whatever and whomever you wish to in private. This is hardly surprising however, coming from a society that persecutes politicians who have their phones hacked and private photos disclosed rather than persecuting those who stole and distributed the photos in the first place. People are entitled to their privacy, and everyone adding to the "just come out, we know already" side of this argument should think carefully about how they would feel should things they wished to be kept private be broadcast across cyberspace. Oh, remember that time you peed your pants on a school-trip, guess what, we hacked your email and are now telling EVERYONE about it. Oh, you made one derogatory remark about a particular ethnicity? Well now, time to label you a racist and a bigot! The last and perhaps most horrendous problem with this is that you are boiling his entire identity as a person and and as an individual down to his sexual preference, how bloody insane is that? Should we have only sent Jewish ambassadors to Nazi Germany? Should we only send Gay envoys to Venezuela? Should we only send Female diplomats to Saudi-Arabia? This is just insanity.
Pay Attention Humans and Equality
Minister Baird is a stand up character who knows first and foremost that his sexuality is not the diplomacy needed to attain equal rights as much as being a person who does their best to be definitive in their actions as an equal human regardless of sexual orientation. This is what I see, Minister Baird has been doing all along. A fine example is his ability to stand up to organized rights deniers like Real Women of Canada. I'll say it again because it is appropriate to repeat: "Gwendolyn Landolt is no big worry. The self imploding thought processes of her and her so called group wouldn’t know value even if they were wiping with 3 ply. Minister Baird is not the type to worry over his being outed. The man is more than capable of doing what he does as Canadas Foreign Affairs Minister regardless of orientation. The example has already been set by Baird, and he will move and think forward as he always has. Gwendolyn Landolt will continue to wonder why her butt is so itchy." If our human rights as people who are fighting for the same equality everyone else has and does take for granted, is so dependant on our sexuality, are we not enabling and validating the stereotype that sexual orientation gets its definition of value attributed only to the behaviour of heterosexuals?
DON'T PERSECUTE THE 'FABULOUS'!
Awesome poster above tho'!
Good job Immigration Minister John Baird.
Mr. John Baird has every right to his privacy, sorry Xtra is breaching that. This article above touches on REAL Women's attack that hinted at the "homosexual agenda" in her erroneous criticism of 'an abuse of power' attack against the Minister. Saying, “to further his own perspective on homosexuality.” WTF is that? She publicly "outted" him in highly diplomatic terms. That, Xtra, is what your right nemesis is doing, tearing him down. And you're doing the same thing in a different way! Regardless, this morning I wrote to the World Pride executive, as well as Councillor Wong Tang, asking if Mr. Baird or even Prime Minister would join the symposiums held each year at the University of Toronto. These gentlemen have earned a right at the table as like it or not queers, they have been giving freedom to homosexuals from other parts of the world. I hope to hear back soon.
How many times do we have to explain this?
Being gay is not a “private” matter. Staying in the closet does not constitute exercise of “privacy.”
How?
How does staying in the closet not cause breach of privacy? Simple to say, but make it work!

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