stoli,

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Umm…

Is everyone clear on what’s going on in Russia with LGBTQ peoples. CAUSE YOU SHOULD BE. What’s going on is absolutely horrifically disgusting and it turns my stomach. Russia is home to people just like you and me except their government is telling them how they can and cannot live and who they can and cannot LOVE. This is heartbreaking. Ask yourself how you can help our Russian brothers and sisters. Lets not be quiet about this. We can all help.

Ways you can help:

REBLOG THIS POST.

VISIT allout.org This website will inform you of the chaos in Russia and other areas of the world where being gay is a crime. Help allout.org by donations and/or signing they’re demands to governments across the world for EQUALITY and PEACE.

LETS DO THIS BY THE MILLIONS.

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Seven Businesses To Give Your Money To If You’re Pro-LGBT Equality

While McDonalds hide behind their Big Macs and Coca-Cola get flustered with their confused concept of equality, it’s good to know there are some companies unashamed of standing up to Russia’s anti-gay laws. You’ll have heard of some of them. Others, perhaps not. So while the main Olympic sponsors keep schtum in the hope they won’t be exposed for putting their profits before people, I thought now would be a good opportunity to celebrate some business role models: those proclaiming their support for LGBT people: 

Ben & Jerry’s – staunch supporters of LGBT equality for many years, Ben & Jerry’s Dutch arm posted a sweet little image of two cows smooching under a set of heart-shaped Olympic rings on their social media pages. With flowers in both cows’ ears, it could be argued that these were, in fact, two lady-lovin’ cows (not that I’m one for gender stereotypes). Anyway, the intention is awesome. And if you ever needed an excuse to guzzle more B&J’s, this might just be it.

Channel 4 – if you’re based in the UK, you probably know about loud mouth broadcaster Channel 4’s notoriety for speaking out for minorities. Along with their hilarious Russian-bear-meets-gay-bear musical pastiche, they’ve given their logo a seven-coloured makeover to celebrate sexual and gender diversity. And to stick two fingers up to the Russian government, no doubt. If you’re not familiar with their work, the station are the brains behind TV hits such as Skins, Misfits and the original Queer as Folk.

Chobani – How’s this for lactose intolerance? America’s number 1 Greek yoghurt brand recently failed to pass Russian border control laws and has since been sitting in transit in New Jersey; meaning no yummy Chobani for the American athletes. Now, the company are an official US sponsor, so you’d expect they’d be more than a little peeved. Their subsequent move may have sealed their fate in Russia, but it’s worth a round of applause:  a photo of multi-coloured stacked yoghurt cartons, that just so happens to be presented like a rainbow. Stomach that, Putin!

Lush Cosmetics – it’s not an issue for me when a company combines their latest PR campaign with a bold message of equality – particularly when said company has a presence in the country said PR exercise is targeting. A courageous move then by Lush, whose Valentine’s Day Sign of Love campaign declares “We believe in love for everyone, between everyone”, specifically citing Russia’s ‘gay propoganda’ laws. They’re encouraging people to paint pink triangles on themselves with lipstick and share photos on social media with the hashtag #signoflove and will deliver these, along with a petition, to Russian embassies around the world.

Google – Probably the most high-profile company to reach out, Google replaced their usual logo with a six-colour salute to equality. OK, so it was technically one shade short of a full rainbow, but who cares when it’s violet that’s MIA? And underneath the image, a quote from the Olympic Charter stating that ‘the practice of sport is a human right’. The image has since changed, but will forever be immortalised in their Google Doodle Museum

Stoli Vodka – a vodka of Russian origin, now bottled in Latvia, Stoli are not only braving the bullies by splashing a rainbow across their logo, they’re also donating $150,000 to LGBT equality in Russia. The sizeable donation is going to the Russian Freedom Fund, who are based in New York, but work remotely with Russian LGBT citizens to offer support in their home country. That’s just one more excuse to fill my glass with vodka (but hold the Coke). 

American Apparel – the international clothes giant have teamed up with LGBT advocates Athlete Ally and AllOut to release a range of items upholding Principle 6 in the Olympic Charter. Yeah, that’s the part that states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”. The ‘otherwise’ part is something the IOC themselves are conveniently side-stepping. Fortunately, American Apparel are calling out the hypocrites. And I’m going online shopping for a new hoodie.

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I’m breaking my theme here, but I’m doing it because there’s a lot of ignorance being spread.

As many of you know, there’s a huge struggle going on in Russia. The struggle is over the rights of the LGTB community, and it’s recent violence against them, as well as its overarching discrimination.

While most protest is through awareness, some is through boycotting. The most significant company that has been boycotted thus far is Stoli Vodka.

Many have assumed that Stoli, being a (formerly) Russian company that produces vodka, is anti-LGTB, and for the sole fact that they are Russian, have boycotted their beverages.

Stoli is not Anti-LGTB.
They are primarily located outside of Russia, in Luxemborg.
They are Anti-Russian government.
The last small plant that produces vodka that is located in Russia is soon to be relocated.

So let us delve deeper.

The following is from an open letter from Stoli CEO, Val Mendeleev.

"This letter… gives me the opportunity to clear some of the confusion surrounding the Stolichnaya brand, based on facts found online that often inaccurately link our company to the Russian Government. The Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe."

Later, the letter states that,

"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."

So, as this is the case… Why are people so dead set on boycotting this company? Is this fair to not support a company that not only supports the community, but promotes it’s rights and achievements?

Stop boycotting Stoli, and focus on the real problem: The Russian Government.

(Image from http://www.stoli.com/#lgbt )
(Quotes extracted from http://www.stoli.com/downloads/LGBT_Community_Letter.pdf )

P.S. Note that even their website URL has the hashtag of LGBT.

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I just finished up an amazing series of portraits for @Refinery29 & @Stoli. It’s called the Month of Visionaries, and there’s going to be 1 portrait for every day in August. I shot all the NY subjects, which ended up being about 20 portraits that we shot over 3 weeks. This was definitely one of the best shoots ever! We were invited in to the workspaces and homes of some of today’s most talented people in the arts, music, fashion, food, and tech industries. These are the kinds of shoots that make me love my job. Today’s portrait is of Casey Neistat, filmmaker. He’s a pretty inspiring guy. If you have the time and haven’t already, google him, watch his videos, and see all of the magic that is Casey. And to see more portraits and his interview, check out the whole story on Refinery 29. And to see more of my portraits visit winniewow.com.