It’s so good to live in a tolerant state

Aww, a heartwarming story before the weekend (when I’m going to be neck-deep in grading.) A Russian, Erik Beda, fled his country for good reason.

Erik Beda’s mere existence is practically a death sentence in Russia. He’s transgender, which is illegal and considered an act of terror in the country.

“There is a sense of despair and catastrophe,” Erik Beda, 36, said in an interview with MPR News senior producer Aleesa Kuznetsov. The two spoke in Russian. Being LGBTQ+ has long been socially unacceptable in Russia, and eventually became illegal.

“Younger people say they want to end their life,” he said of the law. “Their families don’t care about them, and now the government has turned against them.”

Guess where he ended up, after a horrific struggle and journey?

After his release from ICE custody, Erik Beda said he took a bus to a place full of makeshift tents. A nonprofit gave him food, asked if he needed to call anyone and said they would buy him a one-way plane ticket. They asked Erik Beda where he wanted to go. He said he wanted to go to Minnesota.

“It’s an obvious fact that Minnesota is a refuge for trans people, so we had no doubts that we had to go,” Erik Beda said.

Russian refugee Erik Beda poses for a photo outside the Twin Cities Pride offices in Minneapolis, a transgender pride flag draped around his shoulders, on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

As a cis man, it feels good to live in a place that at least tries to support the civil rights of all people. If you don’t live in such a place, I hope your state changes it’s laws and policies…and if they don’t, you’re welcome to move north.


  1. doubter says

    Thank you for a rare good story among so many terrible ones these days.
    Here in Canada, the outlook for LGBTQ+ people, while slightly better, has been marred by recent laws in a few regressive provinces. Happily, my own province of Nova Scotia is still something of a haven. While I didn’t vote for our Progressive Conservative (weird name, but it’s a thing here) government, they have been quite good on this issue.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Tankies: “Imperialist propaganda and culture war distraction! Putin’s is merely defending his people’s traditional way of life from the decadence of Western capitalist imperialism! Besides, so called “prejudice” is an myth created by the 1% to pit the working class against one another!”

    “Class! It’s all about class and economics. The only way people are oppressed are by class and economics! THERE ARE NO OTHER FORMS OF OPPRESSION!!!”

  3. felixmagister says

    What really boggles me is the degree to which your average tankie is willing to defend straight-up plutocracy in Russia. The far-right has apparently had no difficulty in dropping the negative association of Russia with Communism; it is curious that substantial portions of the far-left seems unable to shake the positive association.

  4. says

    He’s transgender, which is illegal and considered an act of terror in [Russia].

    “Terror?!” Are Russians really “terrorized” by trans people just existing? Damn, talk about a country full of snowflakes…

  5. numerobis says

    Basically everything the government doesn’t like is terrorism in Russia.

    But certainly, the patriarchy is quite officially enforced there. They’ve got a good KGB agent, Patriarch Kirill, to lay down the rules while another, Vladimir Putin, creates the laws and directs the enforcement. Gotta keep everyone focused on who to hate, lest they start thinking about why their government sucks.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    The difficulty in getting from Mexico to USA to get asylum is deliberate.
    Biden inherited the situation from # 45 and old # 46 is not planning to make it any easier.

  7. numerobis says

    Burying the lede a bit: Erik got through, but his husband is stuck behind, because Russian authorities forced them to divorce and the US is going along with that divorce filing.

  8. angoratrilobite says

    It doesn’t make sense to me why LGBTQ+ are such a threat. Like, how does this affect them? It is such an illogical position.

    I just can’t wrap my head around it.

  9. says


    In part denial about human nature at a group level and a need to ACTIVELY portray anything but a binary as some form of manipulation instead of kids discovering their personalities.

    Also using that binary to reinforce their own ideas about what behaviors go with what anatomy.

    Kevin Sorbo is a good example. An anatomy behavior bait and switch maybe?

    “I’m just hoping that people wake up a little bit and realize, Let’s let boys be boys and let girls be girls. And let’s stop this whole thing about chopping down the men in the world.”

    “Let kids be kids,” he said. “Let them get older and decide for themselves,”

    “But to sit there and tell this to 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds [in America] — and to confuse them even more when they’re kids, that is crazy to me.”

  10. jrkrideau says

    He’s transgender, which is illegal and considered an act of terror in the country.
    Being transgendered is not illegal. Transgender surgery is illegal. If he is “grandfathered”, so to speak, he should be fine. The “act of terror” is crap.

    OTOH, any transgendered person is going to be a lot better off in a lot of other countries. Just don’t go to Uganda.

  11. John Morales says

    The new laws are part of Russia’s intensifying crackdown on LGBT people. Legislation adopted in December 2022 expanded the ban on sharing positive and even neutral information about LGBT people, including about gender transition. Police detained and prosecuted activists protesting the law banning gender-affirming care. In September 2022, a court in Saint Petersburg upheld a prosecutor’s appeal to declare social media posts “creating an appearance that [being transgender] is socially acceptable” illegal in Russia.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @14:

    Russia has added what it calls the “LGBT movement” to a list of extremist and terrorist organisations, state media said on Friday.
    The move was in line with a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court last November that LGBT activists should be designated as extremists, a move that representatives of gay and transgender people said they feared would lead to arrests and prosecutions.

    So its ok to be transgender as long as you’re not an ‘activist’, however they define that term. Do you trust Putin’s definition of ‘activist’? It seems to include anyone who opposes him.

  13. StevoR says

    @ jrkrideau : “OTOH, any transgendered person is going to be a lot better off in a lot of other countries. Just don’t go to Uganda.”

    Or Russia. Where trans people ar emuch worse off than they are in most other countries.

    Note :

    Why Putin has joined the global attack on the trans community
    Trans Russians face more danger as Kremlin’s war on LGBTIQ community ramps up with ban on trans healthcare.

    Russia has banned gender-affirming surgery and health care in a landmark bill that threatens to further endanger the country’s already marginalised and persecuted trans community, as part of the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive anti-LGBTIQ agenda. …(snip)..

    ..The new legislation also bans changing gender markers and names in official documents, and prohibits transgender people from adopting children. Marriages are also automatically annulled if one partner changes their gender markers; this practice already occurred, but it is now official. …(Snip!)..It has been obvious for years that the Kremlin is trying to turn the LGBTIQ community into a scapegoat in its campaign to promote ‘traditional values’. LGBTIQ Russians often engage in anti-war and anti-Kremlin activism, so this is also a factor.

    The process has become increasingly evident in the decade since Russia’s first “gay propaganda” law was signed in 2013. It has become part of the Kremlin’s intensifying repression spiral: adopted as part of the response to the epoch-defining pro-democracy Bolotnaya rallies a year before Russia annexed Crimea.

    As with most of the Kremlin’s repressions, the cruelty has been intensifying over time. In 2021, there were six cases of “LGBT-propaganda”, all of them minor offences. In 2022 that jumped to 16 and this year there has already been more than 40.

    Source :

    Plus :

    Just over three decades after Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, three people have been arrested and charged under the country’s harsh new anti-LGBT laws and could face ten years in prison for membership of an “extremist organisation”.

    The arrests are a clear indication of how Russia has come full circle on its persecution of sexual minorities under Vladimir Putin.

    On March 21, the district court of Orenburg city in south-western Russia ordered the arrest of nightclub owner Vyacheslav Khasanov. The nightclub, which is called Pose, has never explicitly identified as a gay club – styling itself as a “parody theatre bar”, it hosted parties with drag queen artists and go-go dancers as entertainment.

    … (Snip)…These three people are the first victims of the new repressive legal norm. At the end of November 2023, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the “international LGBT movement” is an “extremist organisation”. That decision effectively criminalised homosexuality, 30 years after it was decriminalised in 1993. But now it isn’t sexual activity that is outlawed, it’s the identity itself. If you openly identify as queer you are a part of an extremist organisation and subject to prosecution.

    Source :

    In addition to :

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in Russia face formidable barriers to enjoying their fundamental rights to dignity, health, education, information, and association. In Russia, antipathy towards homosexuality and gender variance is not new—LGBT people there have long faced threats, bullying, abuse inside their families, and discrimination—but the 2013 “gay propaganda” law has increased that social hostility. The law has also had a stifling effect on access to affirming education and support services, with harmful consequences for LGBT youth.

    Russia’s “gay propaganda” law is a classic example of political homophobia. It targets vulnerable sexual and gender minorities for political gain. When Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the federal law in June 2013, he pandered to a conservative domestic support base. And on the international stage, the law helped position Russia as a champion of so-called “traditional values.” The legislation, formally titled the law “aimed at protecting children from information promoting the denial of traditional family values,” bans the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”—a reference universally understood to mean a ban on providing children access to information about LGBT people’s lives. The ban includes, but is not limited to, information provided via the press, television, radio, and the internet.

    Source :

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