An Open Letter to Secretary Clinton

[Trigger warning for homophobia and violence]

Madame Secretary,

As you are undoubtedly aware, on Saturday, May 28, Moscow police stood idly by as protesters attacked participants in Moscow's pride parade. Following the attack, [TW] police arrested several victims of the attack, including at least two Americans.

Just prior to the parade, Russian authorities revoked parade organizers' permit. Irrespective of the veracity rumors of police officers' participation in the beatings, this last minute withdrawal clearly set the stage for this year's parade to become the scene of violence, as has been the case in past years.

While I know you're busy, I ask you to indulge a personal tangent.

Ten years ago this March, my partner and I went on our first date. We spent a week traveling throughout Estonia and Latvia (how this came to be our first date is a somewhat longer story). It was truly a magical experience, and we both cherish our memories of holding each other close while we explored Riga's streets as winter sighed its last gasp.

Over the past ten years, our lives have changed. Seemingly ages ago, I came out as a transsexual woman. My partner and I are a very happy openly queer couple. We can't go back to Riga. We fear that even in flusher times, we won't be able to show our daughter the countryside from whence her ancestors fled war and poverty for life in the United States.

All that has changed in the last ten years is that my family no longer fits the narrow image that reactionary forces are willing to accept. This, and this alone, is enough to expose us to the threat of state-sanctioned violence.

Latvia is very proudly not Russia, and this is not about tourism.

There are people throughout Russia and throughout the world who are living in fear because of their governments' distaste of their gender or sexuality. Some of these people are American citizens, such as those beaten and arrested this past weekend.

I understand the importance and delicacy of America's relationship with the Russian government. However, I also understand the importance of our relationship with the Russian people-- all of them.

I ask you to condemn the Russian government for its hateful, violent actions, and to reaffirm the United States' commitment to human rights.

Kate Forbes
Syracuse, NY


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