ACT UP Disrupts Stoli Vodka Event at NYC Gay Club
Members of ACT UP disrupted a Stoli Vodka promotional event on Tuesday night at a popular gay club in New York City, according to Gay City News.
The group of less than a dozen protested Stoli’s "Most Original Stoli Guy" event last night at Splash Bar in Chelsea, shouting in front of a crowd of over 150 attendees. They held signs that read, "Russia Kills Gays," "Boycott Russia" and "Dump Stoli" but security rushed them out, shredding their signs and forcibly removing them from the bar.
In a YouTube video of the incident, a Splash drag queen hostess can be heard saying, "Look at these assholes being taken out of the bar. Bye assholes! This is America not Russia," while ACT UP members are being escorted out of the bar.
"I think it was great. They were totally taken off guard," Mark Milano of ACT UP, said after the protest. "There were Stoli executives in the room who saw their event crashed." Bacilio Mendez, another demonstrator, said before the protest he saw some "really uncomfortable suits... on their Blackberries texting, ’Oh, yes, there are a lot of people here,’" Gay City News reports.
ACT UP, or AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, disrupted the event in response to the outcry from the LGBT community regarding Russia’s "homosexual propaganda" law. LGBT leaders and gay bars around the country have dumped Stoli and other Russian vodkas in a protest to the country’s vaguely worded anti-gay measure, which was signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
Those who break the law, which prohibits LGBT "propaganda" from being distributed among minors, face substantial fines and jail time. The measure also impacts "pro-gay" travelers who can be detained for two weeks and fined before being ejected from Russia.