World Cup Fans Used Their Countries’ Soccer Jerseys to Protest Russia’s Anti-LGBTQ Policies

Russia is not a country that recognizes that love is love. They have a dismal track record when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ people. Although homosexuality is technically decriminalized, President Vladimir Putin has persecuted “non-traditional” relationships. Local laws prohibit public demonstrations to demand greater LGBTQ rights—including showing the rainbow Pride flag. One group of LGBTQ activists, however, came up with a clever way to protest the country’s stance by concealing the flag with soccer jerseys.

In a coincidence that seems like kismet, Russia is hosting the World Cup during Pride month. The massive event brings in soccer fans from around the world as they cheer on their team while sporting their country’s jersey. The teams participating wear a myriad of colors—many that match the LGBTQ flag.

Six activists from six different countries gathered together to send a political message to Russia and the rest of the world. Called The Hidden Flag, each person wore the jersey of their native country—Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia—and lined up in the same color formation as the LGBTQ symbol. The group “wanted to take advantage of the World Cup to denounce the situation in Russia and take the flag to the streets.” To achieve this, they walked around various locales in Russia in this formation, therefore discreetly displaying the symbol and flaunting their pride. Officials weren’t the wiser.

As the hashtag #TheHiddenFlag went viral, people around the world applauded their efforts to bring visibility to the LGBTQ movement in Russia. One tweet explaining the significance has garnered over 100 hundred thousand retweets.

“We are looking to launch a message of empathy towards the homosexuals that are there, living in fear and that aren’t able to show their true selves,” Guillermo León, on The Hidden Flag participants, wrote of the experience. “There was a time when I felt that way in Mexico and now I feel that I can live happily married, in a city that doesn’t discriminate (Barcelona), and I hope that everyone will be able to feel the same. I am very proud to have taken the flag to Russia.”

Russia doesn't have a great track record when it comes to LGBTQ rights. In fact, waving the LGBTQ flag is banned.

Gay “propaganda” is banned on Russia so this group improvised. from r/pics

But a group of LGBTQ activists and soccer fans figured out a way to bring the flag to Moscow. They assembled in the soccer jerseys of their native countries. People around the world cheered them on.

The Hidden Flag: Website
h/t: [Upworthy]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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