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Saturday, December 21, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: August

August saw many cities host their annual Pride celebrations and with issues in Russia and elsewhere at the forefront of many people’s minds, this year’s fun and festivities were accompanied by a strong political element.

Read on for more of what happened at Prides and elsewhere in LGBT+ news in…


Parties and politics at Pride

Many of us took to the streets in August to celebrate Pride. The event means different things to different people; some see it as a fabulous big party, some use it as a reminder of how far LGBT+ rights have come and others use it is a platform to highlight the inequalities that still exist. I suppose a combination of the three would be my perfect Pride.

It was evident from photographs and stories coming out of a number of Prides that the safety and wellbeing of Russia’s LGBT+ community was very much on peoples’ minds. At Brighton and Hove Pride, organisers played this powerful video to the crowd, which explained the situation in Russia and things they could do to help:

One of my personal highlights of Pride Glasgow was when I was approached by a Russian couple who saw me holding the customised Russian/rainbow flag I had made for a protest outside the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh earlier that week (pictured below). They asked if they could take a photo of it and so we posed happily together then parted ways. I bumped into them later during the parade and we ended up walking together, carrying the flag and chatting. They told me about life in Russia, why they had come to Scotland and the fears they had for their friends back home. It was a really humbling experience and one that made me determined to carrying on doing whatever I could to help.

Me protesting at the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh

But I think the thing that made me proudest this August was seeing Uganda’s LGBT+ community holding their second Pride festival. The bravery of such an act cannot be underestimated in a country that was preparing to rule that homosexuality could be an offence punishable by a life sentence or even death.

Plenty of rainbows at Beach Pride Uganda 2013 (

I am in awe of them for standing up for what they believe in, even in the harshest of environments. I wonder how many of us would be brave enough to attend our local Pride marches if our laws were like those being proposed in Uganda.

Russia's laws tested at World Athletics Championships

August’s World Athletics Championships, hosted in Moscow, became the first test of the country’s new laws where the eyes of the world would be watching.

Although less high-profile than the upcoming Winter Olympics and with fewer calls for cancellation due to the laws passing so recently, there were still a few notable moments that tested the waters.

The first was the USA’s Nick Symmonds, who dedicated his silver medal in the 800m to his gay and lesbian friends and spoke in favour of LGBT equality.

Nick Symmonds competing for the USA (

The second was Swedish high jumper, Emma Green Tregaro. She got into a bit of bother competing with rainbow coloured fingernails; of which she posted a photo on Instagram with the hashtag “pride”; saying it felt right”. She was given a warning for having potentially breached the governing body’s code of conduct regarding commercial and political statements, and repainted them red, which is, of course, the colour of love.

Emma Green Tregaro's controversial nails (

Finally, the story that created the biggest splash was when two of Russia’s gold-medal winning 4x400m runners shared a kiss on the winners’ podium. As soon as it happened, the photo was shared far and wide. People commented on how amazing it was, that it couldn’t be anything but a protest and that it was even more significant for involving two Russians.

The kiss that caused a media storm (

It didn’t take long, though, for the pair—Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Guschina—to issue a stringent denial. Not only were they not protesting; rather celebrating the biggest victory of their careers; but one described any allegations to the contrary as “dirt”.

Their status as LGBT+ allies may have been short-lived, but I think they may still have helped; consciously or not. For me, that kiss proved two important points:

The first is that it can be pretty difficult to tell the difference between a platonic and non-platonic kiss and it raised the question of when and how the Russian Government would enforce its laws.

The second is that it didn’t actually matter all that much if they were protesting or not; that single, supposedly innocent kiss made global, mainstream, news headlines almost instantly.

It proved that the world was now definitely watching.

Wentworth Miller's coming out message to Russia

August saw the LGBT+ community welcome another famous face into our “out and proud” ranks when "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller announced he was gay.

He did so in reaction to being invited to a film festival in Russia. He declined the invite by saying:


In doing so, Miller became one of the first of a number of celebrities, gay and straight, to use their public platform to draw attention to and speak out against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.

Chelsea Manning announces her desire to begin transitioning

Finally, from a fictional prisoner to a real-life one.

Following a long trial and subsequent sentence for supplying classified documents to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning publicly announced her desire to be recognised as female and to immediately begin the necessary hormone therapy. In a statement to the press, she said:

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun…”

To those who followed her case, Manning’s announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise. But it seemed as though some media outlets would have understood better if she’d requested to serve her sentence on Mars. Part of the reaction seemed to be genuine ignorance about how to report on matters of gender identity and transitioning; apparently someone stating their name, gender and preferred pronoun just wasn’t enough. But, from some, there also seemed to be a deliberate viciousness in their use of male pronouns and her birth name in their reporting.

As soon her statement was published, Chelsea Manning became one of the most high profile transgender people in the world. I hope that her choice to speak out has enlightened both the media and the general public as to the importance and impact of the language they use in such circumstances. I also hope that, regardless of opinion on the actions that led her to prison, individuals and reporters respect her wishes and acknowledge her as the woman she is.

That's a wrap for August. If you've missed any of the earlier reviews, you can catch up here. Head back tomorrow for a look at what happened in September...

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee