Russian Vodka Gay Rights Boycott Hits Philadelphia

Put down that Stoli!

In case the only news you’ve been following from Russia is the plight of hero or villain Edward Snowden, the other big story out of Mother Russia lately has been the country’s crackdown on gays.

In an op-ed earlier this week in the New York Times, actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein declared that “Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has declared war on homosexuals” after a string of policy decisions that came down decidedly against the gay community there.

This week, in response to Russia’s stance on gay issues, some gay bars in Chicago started eliminating Russian vodkas like Stoli from their shelves, although now there is some question about whether Stoli is even a Russian company. (Stoli’s CEO says no. Dan Savage cries BS on that claim.) Will gays in Philly stop drinking Russian vodkas as well?

Jeffrey Sotland, owner of gay bar Tabu on 13th Street in Philadelphia, says that he’s not going to be stocking any Russian liquors, including Stoli. “But then we’ve never carried Stoli at Tabu,” admits Sotland. “So this is really just a sign of solidarity.”

Expect other gay bars in Philadelphia to follow suit. And just know that should you venture out into the Gayborhood this weekend, you might not want to ask for a Stoli and tonic.