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Jim Winsor's Out & About: Stoli boycott in San Diego largely a failure (and that’s a good thing)

The situation for gays and lesbians in Russia is really bad right now. As a result, there have been desperate, emotional calls for us here in the United States to do something, anything as a show of support.

Unfortunately, whenever you have desperation and emotion in a situation, logic and reason often get thrown out the door. And that’s exactly the case with the boycott of Stoli Vodka that some national activists are advocating.

Here's why I think this boycott is a really bad idea, for a whole host of reasons. Some have correctly noted that it’s a form of "slacktivism", distracting our energies away from more powerful albeit more laborious means of protest (such as lobbying for the withdrawal of our country from the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi). Even the Russian activists who are currently being persecuted agree with this.

But even more important, in my opinion, is the manifest injustice and stupidity of the whole idea. Contrary to popular belief, Stoli is not a Russian-made vodka (it’s headquartered in Luxembourg and distilled in Latvia). It’s a hugely gay-friendly company, particularly here in San Diego, where its efforts at outreach to our community have gone WAY beyond mere marketing. Our already iconic Hillcrest Pride Flag probably would not exist today without Stoli’s direct activism and generosity towards this project, for example.

The owner of Stoli is a gay-friendly man living in exile from Russia, having been persecuted by the same government leading the current crackdown on gays. So by attacking a pro-gay adversary of the current Russian regime, Stoli-boycott proponents are actually giving aid and comfort to the homophobic Putin administration.

Fortunately, I am happy to report that here in San Diego the voices of logic and reason have prevailed. Practically every single nightclub, bar and restaurant/bar in our extensive gay and lesbian nightlife scene, either explicitly in words or tacitly by silence, have rejected the calls to boycott Stoli. And if you count only the largest and most popular of our local venues, that figure rises to 100% saying “nyet” to this terrible idea.

Based on the conversations I’ve had recently with people here in the industry, I am furthermore happy to report that this is exactly how the status quo will remain. This is good news indeed, and hopefully a model for other cities still on the fence over this issue.

What do you think? Will you boycott Russian products because anti-gay legislation?

Weigh in on SDGLN's weekly reader poll HERE.

Don L returns to Imperial House

Fans of entertainer Don LeMaster will be glad to know that he’s returning to the Imperial House this Thursday, from 7-11 pm. Last time he was there was quite a show, so come and feel free to put in a request or two!

Melt 2 Year Anniversary at the Brass Rail

This Friday is the Melt 2 Year Anniversary party at the Brass Rail, featuring DJ Kinky Loops and DJ MYXZLPLIX spinning back to back. Also, look for shot girls Jerilynn, Ferlyn and Kandice selling shots for charity while they dance, so be sure to give them some love … and be sure to wish Brandi Sharp a happy birthday while you are there, as I understand she’ll be there celebrating!

Elektrofied at the Merrow (formerly Ruby Room)

This Saturday will be a big night at the Merrow (formerly the Ruby Room) with another Elektrofied party, “a Club Kid Couture inspired Fashion Show Exxtravaganza!” With many returning performers including the San Diego Club Kids, this promises to be a visually entertaining night. In addition, there is an important charity angle this time around:

“This month a portion of proceeds will be donated to 2 friends of Elektrofied that have had an ongoing struggle with Lyme Disease, which their medical insurance will not cover treatment. Please help us in our mission to bring the community together for a night of celebration as well to support a good cause!”

Other fun stuff this week

Thursday, Aug. 1

9 pm to 2 am: CLUB FLICKER AT FLICKS

10 pm to 2 am: SDPIX PRESENTS WET WITH MARSHALL AT BOURBON STREET

Friday, Aug. 2

7-11 pm: FISH FRY FRIDAYS AT GOSSIP GRILL

Saturday, Aug. 3

10 am to 2 pm: ORIGINAL & WORLD FAMOUS MEXICAN BRUNCH AT BAJA BETTY'S

Sunday, Aug. 4

10 am to 2 pm: SUNDAY FUNDAY CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH AT URBAN MO'S

11 am to 3 pm: GOSPEL BRUNCH AT LIPS

3-7 pm: SUNDAY FUNDAYS AT UPTOWN TAVERN

3-8 pm: CHURCH AT BABYCAKES

Monday, Aug. 5

9 pm to 2 am: MANIC MONDAYS AT THE BRASS RAIL

Tuesday, Aug. 6

12 noon to 2 am: TACO TUESDAY AT FIESTA CANTINA

7-9 pm: TRIVIA TUESDAY AT HILLCREST BREWING COMPANY

Wednesday, Aug. 7

7:30-10 pm: PICTIONARY NIGHT AT #1 FIFTH AVE.

10 pm to 2 am: MISCHIEF AT RICH’S