Misha & His Moms Go to the Olympics is a new pro-gay coloring book from FCKH8, the t-shirt company that’s made a name for themselves as LGBT activists.
The book tells the story of Misha, who lives in Russia with his lesbian moms. Misha meets other kids from around the world at the Sochi Olympics, including Li Min from Canada, who has a mom and a dad, and Pascal from France who has two dads.
Other pages show a gay protestor being beaten by Russian police, and a child being forcibly taken away from his moms by a mean-looking man in uniform.
FCKH8’s plan, in collaboration with other LGBT activists both inside and outside of Russia, is to use consumer data to identify 10,000 Russian homes with children. They’ll then mail each one a copy of the coloring book in a plain wrapper.
Here’s where I say, whoa.
I’m all for a coloring book that supports gay Russian families. But the unsolicited mailing of the coloring book to families within Russian raises all sorts of alarm bells for me.
We all know what Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have been up to this year: the introduction of aggressively anti-gay laws, the beating and arrest of LGBT activists, turning a blind eye to virulent homophobic hate crimes and so on.
Gay and lesbian parents in Russia fear for their own safety and that of their kids. They face the very real possibility of having their children taken away from them. Some parents have already fled the country.
In protest of these laws, FCKH8 wants to mail a pro-gay, anti-government coloring book to Russian families?
For Russian parents, whether gay or straight, to have such a coloring book in their possession would be grounds for persecution under current Russian law — which means FCKH8 is putting 10,000 families at risk.
These families are not being asked whether they want to participate. They’re the unwitting recipients of an American company’s publicity campaign.
If I lived in Russia with my kids, and received the coloring book in the mail without my knowing or asking for it, I’d be scared and I’d be mad. How dare an American company decide they want to “support” me by planting illegal material in my home?
FCKH8.com does a lot of good work, but in this case I think they’ve taken their activism too far. It’s great publicity for them but at what expense?
It also seems to me they’re willing to bend the truth a little in pursuit of their goal.
For instance, take a look at this page in the coloring book which shows two female Russian athletes kissing on an awards podium. The caption reads, “Two Olympic athletes kissed to show the world gay people deserve equality.”
Did you immediately think of Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Gushinca at the World Athletics Championships this past August? You’re supposed to.
That liplock was in defiance of Putin’s anti-gay laws, and is a perfect image to include in a gay rights campaign like this. Except that the two women involved in the kiss adamantly maintain it was not in support of gay rights. Small detail.
Oh, FCKH8 would likely tell you, it’s not those two women at all. You see, the kiss in the coloring book is fictional because it’s said to happen at the Sochi Olympics, which doesn’t start until next year. Right.
As a final point, I don’t believe that images of people being beaten or a child being forcibly removed from his home are suitable for a children’s coloring book.
I give FCKH8 props for trying to bring attention and support to the plight of gay Russian families, I really do. But I don’t at all support how they’re going about it.
What do you think? Am I way off-base? Let me know in the comments.