American author, journalist, and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage is one of the best-known gay-rights activists in the United States, and the creator of the global It Gets Better video campaign in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
Savage has now turned his focus to the brutal crackdown on LGBT rights in Russia. In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Daisy Sindelar, Savage talks about vodka boycotts, the Sochi Olympics, and what Russian activists can do to fight back against a rising tide of violence and repressive laws.
RFE/RL: You and your partner, Terry Miller, launched the It Gets Better campaign in 2010 in response to the suicide of a 15-year-old boy who had been bullied by schoolmates for being gay. Was there a single incident in Russia that motivated you to get involved there?
Dan Savage: I, along with everyone else, have been watching for the last few years the rising tide of intolerance and politically motivated hatred and violence in Russia, and feeling at the same time like there was nothing you could do. They're describing gay-rights organizations as foreign agents, so it began to feel like any move we made out here in the West would play into the hands of the bigots and potentially make things worse.
But it reached a point with the passage of those laws — laws banning gay-pride parades for 100 years, and what's been going on in St. Petersburg, the violence — that it didn't seem like we could remain silent any longer. And it didn't seem like making a move could possibly make things any worse.