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ACT UP Disrupts Stoli Vodka Event at NYC Gay Club

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Jul 31, 2013

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.

Activists have also called for a protest against the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi. Though officials from the International Olympic Committee have stated they've received "assurances from the highest level" of Russian government that the "homosexual propaganda" law not impact athletes and fans during the event, Vitaly Milonov, a Russian lawmaker who sponsored the anti-gay bill, said on Tuesday the law will be enforced during the Olympics next year.

Gay City News reports the event was held the day before a demonstration at Manhattan's Russian consulate, which is being organized by RUSA LGBT and Queer Nation. Individuals plan to picket the consulate and pour Russian vodka into the gutter as part of their "Dump Russian Vodka" campaign.

Splash owners recently announced the bar will shut down on August 10.

Watch a clip of the incident below:

Full disclosure: EDGE is a sponsor of Stoli's "Most Original Stoli Guy" series of events, and has reached out to the company to discuss their response to this incident and the boycott. We will report on that response, and our ongoing participation in the "Most Original Stoli Guy" events, in the near future.


  • , 2013-07-31 20:59:21

    I love how EVERYONE is going after Stoli, Does anyone realize that Stoli is made in Latvia, NOT Russia? How about going after these companies... Dovgan, Gold Symphony Vodka, Hrenovuha, Kauffman Vodka, Kubanskaya, Moscow Distillery Crystal, Moskovskaya, Moskovskaya vodka, Narodnaya, Putinka, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard (vodka), Shustov vodka, Smirnoff & Youri Dolgoruki Vodka. Did you notice Smirnoff is in that list, yet no one is seen dumping that Vodka,and they ARE made in Russia! How about do your research people before you go after a company like Stoli. They, like Absolute, are HUGE supporters of the LGBT community. My god the president of Stoli sent out a letter slamming the Russian Government or their treatment of the LGBT community. That letter would be considered "Gay Propaganda" under the new law and he could be jailed for what he wrote and yet he still wrote it. We as a community are too quick to jump on the "band wagon" of boycotting something before doing our research!

  • , 2013-07-31 23:17:24

    Does Patrick Hagerty work for Stoli ?

  • , 2013-08-01 00:14:43

    Stoli has been a contributor to LGBT community for years. They actively oppose the current Russian government. Yet one person stands up and screams to the mindless mob to take down one of its biggest supporters. Think people. Patrick Hagerty makes a point. Of course if you want to be self destructive, hey prove to all the religious bigots that the gay community is untrustworthy and continue to attack one of our biggest financial backers.

  • DanC, 2013-08-01 00:48:18

    Dan Savage says Stoli production returns to Russia in 2014.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-08-01 02:40:57

    NO company is a supporter or contributor to the gay community, or any other community. They are profit-driven enterprises that market to people in places where they can make money. Stoli has not interest in the gay community other than to sell its vodka. They make "statements of support" because they don’t want to lose money. This doesn’t make them good or evil. It just makes them capitalists. While companies are not responsible for government policy, they CAN influence it. Boycotting Stoli and every other Russian product can have an effect on profits and the Russian economy and encourage the companies to lobby the gov’t to change its policies. As for Stoli being made in Latvia: if that is true, but the profits go to a Russian-based company, then they are still benefiting the Russian economy. (e.g. Apple computers are made in China, but a boycott would affect profits in Silicon Valley and the economy of California)

  • , 2013-08-02 00:15:50

    Stoli is a private company, and boycotting a private company regardless of where it is made or head-quartered is not going to change Russian government policy. Every time Savage doesn’t like something and gets his panties in a bunch; he yells boycott. A few gay bars boycotting Stoli is not going to bring down the Russian economy, nor will it change Putin’s view. Vlad has a bigger ego (and bigger balls) than Barry Obama. For all intent and purposes, Savage is a progressive, far left radical, yet for some reason he cannot make the connection that his beliefs, when it comes to big govt., taken to their logical conclusion, are identical to Putin’s. Vodka has nothing to do with it, and only makes the protesters at Splash look like the ridiculous, useful idiots they are.

  • DanC, 2013-08-02 00:46:24

    Boycotting Stoli is not intended to "bring down the Russian economy [or] change Putin’s view." What little we Americans can do is make a statement...that’s it. Actually you are not really objecting to a boycott, you just have your FoxNews-Rush Limbaugh hat on. Savage is such a libberuuul. You can sit in Splash twiddling your thumbs, scratching your arse, and sipping your Stoli figuring out the connection between Savage and Putin.

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