FCKH8, an American T-shirt company well known for its pro-LGBT stance, has launched a campaign in which it will send 10,000 pro-gay coloring books to families in Russia in exchange for 100,000 tumblr reblogs.
Titled “Misha & His Moms Go to the Olympics,” the bilingual English-Russian book tells the story of Misha, a young Russian boy with lesbian parents. Alongside Pascal, a French boy with two fathers, and Li Min, a Canadian girl with heterosexual parents,
Misha attends the 2014 Sochi Olympics while musing on the aggressive anti-LGBT laws in modern Russia.
Although I am a staunch supporter of LGBT rights, I believe this campaign is incredibly dangerous.
Currently, it is illegal to be pro-gay or pro-trans in Russia. These laws have resulted in the imprisonment and even death of countless people. Russian law enforcement is legally obligated to turn a blind eye to LGBT-related hate crimes, and many citizens have fled the country as a result.
FCKH8 has made no indication that it will alert the 10,000 families before it mails the coloring books, making them the unwitting recipients of an American company’s illegal publicity stunt. If Russian authorities happen to find the books in the possession of the families, it could put their lives at risk.
Additionally, despite FCKH8’s claim that the books will be concealed during shipment, they are bound to be discovered by Russian customs at some point, and there is no guarantee that the recipients’ families will not turn in the books themselves.
This would give the Russian government ample reason to tighten shipping and importing laws and take further action against pro-LGBT activists in the country.
FCKH8 is also willing to stretch the truth in order to spread its views. One coloring page shows two female Olympic medalists kissing publicly in defiance of the laws, clearly inspired by the kiss between Russian athletes Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Gushinca earlier this year, despite their adamant claim that the kiss was purely platonic and misconstrued by the Western media.
While the message behind its campaign is certainly a positive one, I can’t even say FCKH8’s intentions are pure. Though its decision to not send out the coloring books until its original post received a certain number of reblogs ultimately turned out to be a blessing in disguise, the act shows the company is only doing it for the publicity.
There is no reason why the company can’t just send out the coloring books without the encouragement of the public. Better yet, there is no reason why it can’t just donate the money set aside to print and ship the coloring books to more reputable pro-LGBT organizations.
Ultimately, this campaign is an effort to sell T-shirts in the West while placing innocent people in danger in the East. Many well-meaning but misguided people are falling for it, and every uninformed reblog is bringing the campaign closer to fruition.
FCKH8 is endangering Russian families and manipulating tumblr users for their own gain in the name of the LGBT community.
Frankly, I find this disgusting.
This campaign will ultimately help no one, and if the overwhelmingly negative response from the Internet is anything to go by, it is actively harming the company’s reputation.
There are ways to help the LGBT community, both in and out of Russia. This is not one of them.