Since August 2013, when the Russian government banned the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors," stigmatizing LGBT Russians, there has been a tremendous increase in LGBT Russians seeking asylum in the United States. Al Jazeera recently visited with Russian asylum seekers at the RUSA LGBT annual New Year's party.
While many at the party said they are relieved to be out of Russia, they worry for those left behind. Several people said they anticipate the situation in Russia for LGBT individuals will further deteriorate after the Olympics, when international attention fades.
That gives RUSA LGBT a crucial role, said Long. "The diaspora has a huge effect because we are still very connected with people in Russia. Our group is important to the fight against homophobia at home."
To help, several members of the expatriate community have told their stories in an upcoming book,Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories.
But on this late-December evening, a few days before the actual changing of the years, the fight seemed far away amid the New Year's festivities. People took turns strumming a guitar while others stepped up to a microphone to sing songs in Russian.
We need to remember the many LGBT Russians who do not have the means to leave their country or need to stay to care for their family.
Al Jazeera America has the full story.