Activists from Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia made their way to Russia to speak out for LGBTQ rights in a subversive protest during the World Cup.
Standing up for what you believe has always taken courage, and that's especially true if you're in the middle of Russia and what you believe could get you in trouble.
As frenzied soccer fans descended on Russia for the 2018 World Cup, there was another group hidden among them who had come for an entirely different reason.
Wearing the same bright colored jerseys, representing their home teams, 6 activists made a living rainbow flag in protest of Russia's anti-LQBTQ policies.
Hiding in plain sight, the protesters subverted Russian restrictions on displaying the LGBTQ flag. They called the project 'The Hidden Flag', posting a statement about it on TheHiddenFlag.Org.
"At the same time that Pride Month is celebrated in the rest of the world, we decided to denounce this situation and take our flag to the streets of Russia. In the plain light of day, in front of the Russian authorities, Russian society and the whole world, we wave the flag with pride."
In Russia it’s illegal to display the LGBT pride flag. So during the #WorldCup these 6 football fans have formed a… https://t.co/jHcunY5sl7— Jason Ball (@Jason Ball) 1531136048.0
The images of the group went viral and people applauded their message and its creativity.
@jasonballau Ive never seen something so beautiful in my life— ky (@ky) 1531252871.0
@RFERL This is amazing. Love these people 🏳️🌈 ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜— Billy Gubrud (@Billy Gubrud) 1531228262.0
The https://t.co/R19uxz0VT2 is everything. The #HiddenFlag won the #WorldCup and you can't tell me otherwise. https://t.co/iOEvtv55OY— Mikala Paula (@Mikala Paula) 1531079000.0
What a great idea. Way to go ! Everyone has the right to love whom ever they choose. #LoveIsLove #HiddenFlag 🏳️🌈 https://t.co/co7lzdB7LY— ValStew (@ValStew) 1531150217.0
@jasonballau @BrettJSimpson Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. - George Washington— Darius Burke (@Darius Burke) 1531240754.0
Though some just hoped the group stayed safe.
@jasonballau God this is cool but also I hope they stay safe.— Katie Kruger (@Katie Kruger) 1531246497.0
@jasonballau Those guys better be careful. Never know what could happen if they keep doing what they're doing in that country.— Paul Perez (@Paul Perez) 1531248930.0
@jasonballau Am I the only one who realizes that they could be in serious trouble if the law enforcement in Russia… https://t.co/hBwjGe68QA— TimberFinz (@TimberFinz) 1531247119.0
After all, the flag was not so hidden any more.
@jasonballau well now you've let the cat out of the bag😂 https://t.co/5NTJ7Vy9XQ— feral (@feral) 1531218128.0
@jasonballau Nice job on ratting them out lol— Jonathan Serrano (@Jonathan Serrano) 1531237388.0
@jasonballau Well it's not much of a secret anymore..— ʀɪᴄᴋʏ (@ʀɪᴄᴋʏ) 1531230938.0
The group is no longer in Russia, but one member said they have a message for LGBTQ Russians.
"I want them to know they are not alone, and we will keep fighting from afar so that they will able to be free."
The uniform may be different, but the heroism is the same.
@MariaGCL Not all hero's wear capes! 🏳️🌈— nearsbigsister (@nearsbigsister) 1531216328.0