There you are, trying to ring in spring by blowing bubbles with some 500 strangers during a flash mob, and some neo-Nazis mistake you for a gay pride parade and kick your ass.
That’s life — in St. Petersburg, Russia.
It was the third year running that the event, known as both “Dream Flash” and “Soapy Piter,” was held in the city. It presents itself as “non-political,” and mostly attracts teenagers. “It has nothing to do with the gay community, or with any political, ideological or any other organization,” said Yulia, Dream Flash’s organizer, by phone on Monday. She requested that her last name be withheld from publication. “It’s simply a celebration of spring, with the idea that a group of people come together and walk around the city center blowing bubbles and enjoying spring. There was also supposed to be an amateur photography competition, so there were two goals — to have a good time and take pictures of bubbles.”
Which, admittedly, is pretty gay. But just as things were getting started, a lit flare was thrown at the group and then some 30 men bum rushed the crowd.
Several people had fallen to the ground before the attackers retreated at the sight of the OMON riot police approaching. At least one of the attackers was arrested. Later reports said that at least one person was suffering from a concussion and another had been wounded by a rubber bullet from an attacker’s gun, but these remained unconfirmed on Monday evening.
Clearly, the attackers should’ve waited for the homos.
During preparations for the event, a gay activist began advertizing a gay pride event within Dream Flash several days before the planned event. “These are two different events; they are not connected to each other at all,” Yulia said. “When I found out about it, I started to correspond with them, asking them to separate the two events, but they refused, because they thought our event was very suitable for them, and that we were ‘gay friendly.’ We corresponded for three days but it led to nothing.”
Valery Sozayev, the chair of the gay rights organization Vykhod, described the actions of the gay activists behind the promotion of their event as a “provocation.” “Soap bubbles are rainbow-like and iridescent, and that’s why people use a lot of rainbow symbolism at [bubble-blowing] events, but it has nothing to do with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) community,” Sozayev said. “Obviously, part of the LGBT community joins the event in every city where it takes place, but they do so as everybody else does, without positioning it as an LGBT event.”
(Photos: Top photo not actually from the event, but hey, it depicts gays and bubbles. Bottom photo shows arrest of one of the attackers.)