GLAAD Gold Medal Winner: Vladimir Luxuria for LGBT visibility in Sochi

For being a bright sign of LGBT visibility in Sochi, transgender Italian parliament member Vladimir Luxuria earns GLAAD's Gold Medal.

As we reported yesterday, Vladimir Luxuria, Europe's first openly transgender parliamentarian and former Italian MP, was detained in Sochi, Russia over the weekend under the country's anti-LGBT, so-called "propaganda law." The following day, she was detained for a second time, and left by authorities in a rural area. She was then escorted out of the country.

She has spoken with Michelangelo Signorile on SiriusXM Progress, describing her demonstration, arrests, and eventual expulsion from Russia.

Signorile wrote about his interview in the Huffington Post:

Luxuria said that from the moment she arrived in Sochi she was under surveillance because she was “very, very visible” and “very fierce, outstanding.” She has described herself in the past as neither male nor female, though she prefers to be addressed by the feminine pronoun. She dresses very flamboyantly, often in rainbow-decorated dresses and hats, and self-identifies to people as transgender.

“I was walking around Sochi talking with people to see what they think about Putin’s law,” she said. “And so of course the policemen noted me. And from that moment on they spotted me. They spotted where I was sleeping, the hotel where I was sleeping.”

On Sunday night she decided to visit the gay nightclub alone. But before she got there, she was stopped by police and taken to the station simply because she wore a rainbow banner.

While the arrest and detention was ignored or downplayed by the International Olympic Committee, they have caught the attention of international and mainstream outlets, including the Washington PostThe GuardianUSA Today, and New York Magazine. She has gotten less television attention, being mentioned on Al Jazeera and CNN.

Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, GLAAD is working with international LGBT organizations, athletes and LGBT Russians to secure media coverage for the stories of LGBT Russians, their families and the harms facing them in Russia. GLAAD has also released GLAAD Global Voices: 2014 Sochi Olympics Playbook, a resource guide for journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. For more information, visit