The Heart Is Big and Should Be Free: Banned Rainbow Flag Ingeniously Hides In Plain Russian Sight

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Photos by Hidden Flag

With the World Cup heading to finals this weekend, six Latin American activists undertook a stealth protest against the Russian host's repressive laws banning the iconic rainbow flag and other LGBTQ "propaganda" for "nontraditional" relationships by sightseeing in their own "unexpected rainbow" - of perfectly aligned soccer shirts. For the "Hidden Flag" project, a joint effort by the Spanish digital agency LOLA Mullenlowe and FELGTB, Spain's largest LGBTQ organization, the group donned jerseys from Spain (red), the Netherlands (orange), Brazil (yellow), Mexico (green), Argentina (blue) and Colombia (purple) to form a flag hidden in plain sight in solidarity with "a call to love."

For five days during Pride Month, they "took the rainbow flag to the streets of Russia" by visiting and posing at Moscow tourist sites, sometimes next to oblivious Russian police. Most of the six said they were frightened of the dangers - having a flag can bring arrest - but felt compelled to "use our voices for those that cannot," said Vanesa Paola Ferrario of Argentina. "These are the steps we have to take to move the world forward.” Eric Houter, a straight Dutchman, joined the protest in the name of "brotherly love"; when his gay brother said he couldn't make it but felt it was important, "I knew what I had to do." "I am not only defending my brother's rights, but everyone's rights," he says. "The heart is big and should be free."

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