Shortly after images surfaced of violent counter-protests during Gay Pride Parades in Russia and knowledge of Russia’s anti-gay laws, spots in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are taking action against one of the countries main exports.
A group of “gay bars” in the Chelsea and West Village neighborhoods of New York City are standing in solidarity with the LGBT people of Russia by dumping their supply of Russian-made spirits, according to DNA Info. “This is a small retaliation that we hope is going to pick up,” Mike Garcia, manager at the Boxer Sports Bar in West Village told DNA Info. “Russian vodka isn’t the only type of vodka.”
Other bars participating in the boycott include Ty’s, Boots & Saddle, Elmo’s, Posh, Barracuda, Ninth Avenue Saloon, Gym sports bar, and G lounge, and the Eagle NYC. But, one bar is not joining the movement; XES Lounge on 24th Street and 7th Avenue. “Boycotting Stoli doesn't make sense," the management wrote on the spot’s Facebook page. "The Putin government does not control or manage the company, nor is the company headquartered in Russia." (The bar will still show support for the LGBT community of Russia by donating $1 Amnesty International for every drink they make with Stoli, a Russian-made vodka, according to DNA Info.) Similarly, columnist Dan Savage also urged readers to tell their bars to #DumpStoli and other Russian vodkas in protest.
In response, Stoli Vodka, CEO Val Mendeleev wrote a letter to the Advocate expressing their deep concern for the unfurling violence in Russia. Part of his letter to the Advocate reads:
I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference...
We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.