Protestors raise awareness of Russia's anti-gay laws before the Winter Olympics.
The Upper East Side smelled like Vodka this afternoon, as gay rights supporters rallied outside the Russian Consulate to protest what they called that nation's harsh anti-gay laws.
There were chants of "We're here, we're queer, we're drinking only beer!" There were signs reading "Queers say nyet" and "pride is not pornography." And to top it all off, bartenders poured bottles of Russian vodka into the street.
This past week, many New York City gay bars have begun boycotting Stolichnaya and other brands. It's spread to bars in London, Vancouver, and beyond, and organizers say it's bringing awareness to Russian Leader Vladimir Putin's oppressive policies.
Others don't see the point, like Arthur, who was waiting outside the Russian Consulate for a travel visa. "I guess gay people deserve their rights," he said, "but I don't see what the hell Putin has to do with being in the middle of Manhattan."
Across the street, protestor Ken Kidd said it's about more than vodka. He and the others gathered were looking ahead to this February's Winter Olympics, set to be held in Sochi, Russia.
"We're about to have a worldwide event in Russia covered by one of the hugest corporations, sponsored by multi-billion dollar corporations," he said. "We are putting people at risk. We want people to wake up to that."
Kidd says LGBTQ people are considered pornography in Russia, and you can be punished for simply waving a rainbow flag.
This week a Russian lawmaker reportedly said they will arrest any gay tourists or athletes. The International Olympic Committee has responded in strong opposition to the laws. They say there will be no discrimination at the games.