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Gay Olympic flame seeks saviors to defy Russian hate

Gay Olympic flame seeks saviors to defy Russian hate

The dream of an LGBTI flame to burn through the Winter Olympics and challenge Russian hate could be extinguished before it has even been lit.

The Rainbow Flame will be lit on 7 February in the world famous Potsdamer Platz, Berlin – at the same time as the Olympic flame.

It will be tended by volunteers day and night until the Olympics ends on 23 February – braving temperatures which may drop as low as -23C (-9F)

Thousands will pass it – including celebrities attending the Berlinale International Film Festival who are expected to pause to show their support.

Volunteers have been working around the clock to make the unique 16-day long protest and celebration work. But they don’t have enough funds to cover basic costs.

They estimate it will cost up to €20,000 ($27,000) for security, staging, gas and to produce information to explain the flame’s purpose to visitors.

So far voluntary activist group Enough is Enough, Open Your Mouth! – created by seven friends – has raised around €5,000 ($6,770).

All the funding has been given by individuals – none has been donated by government or LGBTI organizations.

Alfonso Pantisano told GSN: ‘The Rainbow Flame is a solemn vigil to LGBTI people in Russia and around the world who are being persecuted, and will serve as a meeting place for visitors to learn about the massive human rights violations being committed against LGBTI people around the world.

‘It will be a point where people can come and focus their attention, their concerns – and together we can share our hope we can make a difference. The flame represents that, hope in the darkness.’

This weekend is crucial for fundraising. If the friends don’t have the money by Monday morning, they can’t order the equipment and technical help they need to make the event work.

You can learn more about the Rainbow Flame and donate here.