What’s the project?
We’re making designer T-shirts with a message of support for the LGBT community in Russia and to raise awareness about Russia's anti-gay laws, including 135-FZ. Wearing the t-shirt is a way of supporting Russian Gay Rights/Equality and keeping up the pressure for positive change. T-shirts will be delivered shortly after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Why did I start working on this?
I began this project six months ago after hearing that Russia's President Putin signed an anti-gay law called the "Gay Propaganda Law, 135-FZ." A couple weeks after Putin signed the law, the news blogs published graphic videos of violence against Russian LGBT people. The images were shocking. I was moved by heart-wrenching stories about the luring, kidnapping, and abuse of gay teens and mortified by the upcoming bill proposing the removal of kids from gay parents. And sadly, the Russian government has already enacted a law banning adoptions by single people or by people living in countries that support same-sex marriage.
This is a topic that hits close to home. I was in Russia a few years ago, and I learned first-hand about its homophobic culture. I had no idea the hate and fear would reach its current level. As a married gay man and a parent, I felt a strong connection with Russian LGBT families. I kept thinking “I wish I could do something.” I started by signing the online petitions urging the International Olympic Committee and corporate sponsors to condemn the law, but wanted to do something more personal.
So I started designing artwork for t-shirts with a message of support, hope, and encouragement.
Why is this project important?The "Repeal Law 135-FZ" campaign is a way for supporters to condemn Russia's anti-gay law and to call for an end to anti-gay discrimination, harassment, and violence. Wearing the T-shirts is a visible way to increase awareness and keep up the public pressure on Russian lawmakers. Purchasing the t-shirts allows people to add their voice to those around the world supporting Russia’s LGBT community (as well as the athletes and supporters participating in the Winter 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi).
What does the picture of a watch and a brightly-colored bird have to do with Russian LGBT rights?
I wanted to make a design that supported a vision of Russia changing and evolving. To break it down:
- The watch: As soon as Russia passed the anti-gay law and news outlets published horrendous stories of anti-gay violence, millions of people around the world started paying attention. The world was outraged and shifted from passively watching to taking action. Hence, “the world is watching.”
- The bird: I wanted a symbol representing Russian culture. The Phoenix, according to Russian folklore, was a bird that rose from the flames and ashes of its own death. The Phoenix became Russia’s national symbol (used on its Coat of Arms) and signifies transformation, regeneration, hope, and rebirth.
- The colors: the colors, obviously, are from the rainbow, and often used to represent the LGBT community.
- The words: "Law 135-FZ" is the name of Russia's federal anti-gay law, signed into effect by President Putin in June 2013. "Pabehctbo" and "Pавноправие" are Russian words for "equality" or "equal rights." "Cправедливость" and "правосудие" are Russian words for "justice" or "fairness." Peace and safety is what I wish for the Russian LGBT community, their families, and friends.
Here are the designs that will be printed onto the t-shirts:
Design #1: (here's the first design, divided into 3 sections).
Top section: in Russian "PABEHCTBO" means "Equality"
(Pronounced "Ravenstvo", with "a" as in "hat", "en" as in "in" and "stvo" as in "s-tivo". Accent is on the second syllable "ven." It takes practice....)
Middle section: watching out for justice and equality (click here to see larger image)
Bottom section: Repeal Law 135-FZ (the number of Russia's anti-gay law)
Here’s what they'll look like when printed:
(t-shirts are unisex and can be worn by both men and women)
What sizes will the t-shirts come in?
The t-shirts are unisex and will come in Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large (XL) and Extra-Extra Large (XXL)
Here's a picture showing some of the design process. There were many, many revisions but I’m happy with the final result.
Here’s where you come in – my funding goalI need your support! My funding goal is at least $10,000. I’m passionate about this project, and as a campaign backer, you will be the first to own one of these unique and colorful T-shirts.
What I’ve done so far:
I've finished some of the hardest parts. So far . . . a) I've completed the designs and the graphics to be printed on the shirts, b) I started working with the heat transfer manufacturer to print a sample shirt, c) I selected the t-shirt supplier and have chosen the brand, fit, material and colors, d) I worked with the production team to plan the manufacturing of the shirts.
What your backing funds will be used for:
This project represents a labor of love, and I’ve gladly obsessed over every detail. After much investment myself, I need at least $10,000 to cover:
- paying to have my designs made camera-ready
- paying for the heat transfers (long lasting, high-quality, vivid 24-color images for printing on shirts)
- paying for the blue and red plain t-shirts
- paying for heat press operations and t-shirt manufacturing
- paying for shipping and handling costs for the US campaign backers
With a successful campaign, I can achieve this. If you’re not familiar with it, the Indiegogo Fixed model is an all-or-nothing model; if I don’t reach my goal by the end of the fundraising period, your account will not be charged for your pledge. If I exceed the target dramatically, I will be able to develop and expand the line by adding a variety of t-shirt colors, and can create other items showing my designs (i.e. greeting cards, posters, tote bags, hoodie sweatshirts, etc.)
Proceeds from each purchase will go to organizations directly supporting Russian LGBT Rights. Wear your support and help make a difference in the lives of LGBT Russians struggling with anti-gay discrimination, abuse, and violence.
Thanks!Thanks for checking out my project. Check out the rewards and make the selection that's right for you (send me an email if you have questions.) I hope you support it and help spread the message about Russia's anti-gay laws and it's impact on the LGBT community. Thank you for helping carry a message of love, support and hope for LGBT Russians.
Risks and challengesI'm confident that if this project is funded, we will deliver the t-shirts on schedule (before end of April 2014). Having said that, since this is a mult-step process involving several production specialists, there's always the risk it could take a bit longer than expected. But all those involved are confident we can deliver the T-Shirts on time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I choose my sizes, colors, and styles?
At the end of the campaign we will send you a link to a page with a form to fill out where you can chose you sizes and colors. We'll also collect your shipping information at the same time.
What kind of fit do these shirts have?
Our shirts have a regular fit (as opposed to an athletic fit which is tailored and form-fitting.) The t-shirts are unisex and come in Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large (XL) and Extra-Extra Large (XXL)
Do the shirts shrink?
The shirts are 100% pre-shrunk cotton. Shirts are true to size, but we find there is about 5% shrinking over time.
Can these shirts be put in the washer/dryer?
Yes. The designs are made with high-quality plastisol heat transfers and the shirts can be cleaned in a regular wash and dry cycle with other dark clothing. Colors will not run in the wash.
What do I do if I want to to purchase a large number of t-shirts?
First of all, thanks! We're glad to arrange for larger orders. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What are we going to do with the money we raise?
Once we reach our goal, we'll make your t-shirt(s) and ship them to you as quickly as possible. Proceeds (minus costs) will be donated to the Russia Freedom Fund, created by The Arcus Foundation, the Council for Global Equality and the Open Society Foundations. The Arcus Foundation pledges to give 100% of all donations directly to Russian LGBT organizations.
What is The Arcus Foundation and what do they do with the money we donate to the Russia Freedom Fund?
The Arcus Foundation is a leading global foundation created with a mission to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race. The Foundation works globally and has offices in New York City and Cambridge, UK.
The Russia Freedom Fund is a U.S. tax deductible vehicle for making financial contributions in support of the LGBT movement in Russia and efforts to combat discrimination and violence there based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One hundred percent of all donations to the Fund will be paid out as grants.
The Russia Freedom Fund’s core objective is to create a safe environment for LGBT people in Russia by supporting local groups that can be effective at combatting discrimination and violence. Financial support will allow these groups to address cases of discrimination and violence, to ensure that victims have access to legal support, and to take these cases to court. The Fund will also provide support to Russian organizations that work for longer term, systemic change in the status and treatment of LGBT people in the country, through public education and advocacy.