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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Stoli Rocks Block

posted by on June 5 at 19:11 PM

Just last night I was watching The Daily Show when one of those new commercials came on for Stolichnaya—have you seen them? The campaign is fabulous—black-and-red Socialist Realism, Russian Constructivism, Cold War nostalgia on steroids. “Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka,” Stolichnaya’s new ads shout. “Russian! And Russian vodka is authentic vodka! Only a simpering pussy would drink anything else!”

After watching the ad—honest to God—I said to my boyfriend, “I’m never drinking Stoly again—not after what happened in Moscow. Gay people should boycott Russian everything.”

In case you missed it, here’s what happened in Moscow:

For the second year in a row Russian authorities banned a gay pride parade in Moscow—and this year when Russian activists, activists from EU countries, and Members of the European Parliament attempted deliver a petition to Moscow’s city hall, they were attacked by thugs and fascists. The police made arrests—they arrested the gay activists, including the men you see getting punched in this video.

Well, it’s on.


Gay activists are calling for a boycott of Stoli. There was a protest today at the Russian embassy in New York City. New York-based gay blogger Joe My God was there:

With Russian news cameras rolling, rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker and gay activist Brendan Fay poured Stolichnaya vodka into the street in front of New York City’s Russian embassy in protest of the treatment of Russian gays by their government. Under the wary eye of the NYPD (who did NOT want to be photographed) and U.S. State Department operatives (the earpieces are a dead giveaway), a small group of protesters marched on the sidewalk with placards. Brendan Fay attempted to deliver a letter of complaint to the embassy staff, but they did not come to the door.

Stoli, says Joe, is the third largest selling vodka in America, taking in $400 million annually. And here’s a pic of Stoli going down a sewer in Manhattan earlier today:


The organizers of the boycott are calling on all American gay bars to stop serving Stoli:

All American gay bars will be asked to not serve Stoli vodka until the Russian government acknowledges the human rights of its LGBT citizens, and Russian gays are guaranteed the right organize, assemble in the streets and live free of government harassment.

And the organizer of the Moscow Pride March, Nikolai Aleseyeev, welcomes the boycott:

“We are thankful for the support of gay Americans mobilizing on our behalf to do what we can’t - stage vigils at Russian government offices. Please don’t forget about your brothers and sisters beyond the United States, and our difficult struggle for equality.”

Yay! A boycott! Now I can do something—something symbolic, but still—to protest what’s being done to gays and lesbians in Russia. I don’t drink Stoli myself, but I will ask my friends—hello, Tim “Stoli Rocks” Keck!—to switch to a new brand. And then I’ll call Seattle’s gay bars and ask if they’re going to honor the boycott. Because it’s the right thing to do… right?

Wrong, says Good As You, another gay blog, which argues that Stoli isn’t the right target for a big gay boycott.

If you are protesting the gay-unfriendly attitudes of a specific country or their government, then you should by all means speak out loudly and fervently against the injustices you perceive. However, it seems more than a little shortsighted to turn that antipathy towards a privatized product, and to call for a boycott of said product. This is especially true when that particular product and company not only advertise on gay programs and in gay magazines, but also serves as the SOLE BACKER of a show on the nation’s most prominent gay cable network!!

Stoli is a national corporate sponsor for Lambda Legal and is bottled, it seems, in Latvia, not Russia.

I need a drink.

RSS icon Comments


Was this post edited at all? It started off pretty histrionic and then ended on a pretty moderate note.

Posted by Jay | June 5, 2007 7:29 PM

Yeah, that's what Stoli does to you...

Posted by Boomer in NYC | June 5, 2007 7:34 PM

Dan, weren't you balls deep in havarti and Carlsberg last year during the Danish cartoon controversy? One thing that that clusterfuck proved is that, if you're upset about something going down in a specific country, boycotting private industries in those countries is pointless.

Besides, pouring vodka into the gutter is a little too reminiscent of those asinine right-wing boycotts of French products in 2003.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 5, 2007 7:51 PM

yea. i am a little confused by how stoli is somehow responsible for the actions of its government.

either way, im poor now and rarely buy my favored raspberry stolis any longer. sad.

Posted by yungrii when drunk | June 5, 2007 7:54 PM

You should be careful, i am sure that not everyone reads the entirety of long posts, and the gist of the first 95% is BOYCOTT,

I suppose we are just lucky the end wasn't stuffed beneath a break

Posted by Vooodooo84 | June 5, 2007 8:07 PM

I dunno, buy American? Isn't Russia a Third World country anyway? Don't Third World countries always do stupid things? Isn't that why they are Third World countries?

Posted by just asking | June 5, 2007 8:27 PM

Hmmm...let me see. An economic boycott that would hurt Russia. Let's see. First off, you're going to need to transform the energy economies of most of Europe, since they depend heavily on Russian oil and natural gas. You could convince Germany to forget about getting off nuclear power and have them mandate electric cars.

Next, you need to bring about world peace. Russia is the world's top arms dealer, and they'll sell to fucking anybody. I mean, their officers sell arms to the Chechen rebels they're supposed to be killing.

That about wraps up the ways to directly harm the Russian government.

BUT, we should be attempting to harm the Russian people economically. Yes, it was the government of Moscow that denied permits, but it was the people of Moscow that assaulted the activists, and they did so with not only tacit approval, but outright encouragement from the Russian people. So fuck them. Boycott the Stoli. It may be bottled in Latvia, but it's produced in Tambov, a city in the Crimea. Besides, Latvia isn't exactly a gay haven either. They have an ENDA type law, but only added it because as EU members, they have to, and they also passed their very own DOMA, and Riga banned a pride parade just last year.

Let's face it. A massive trade deficit has many, many downsides, such as the eventual total economic control of our nation by others, but the fact that we're the world's number one consumer nation means that we can flex our economic muscles, and yeah, it's a terrible problem that so many gay men are fucking drunks, but if we all switch brands of booze, we can certainly have an impact. It worked with Coors.

Posted by Gitai | June 5, 2007 8:34 PM

I remember my father supporting a boycott of English products to protest Britain's unholy war against the Irish in the eighties. I was too young to understand anything except, "No Baskin Robbins?!"

Long story short: the boycott didn't work. There are upwards of 34 million Irish Americans in the U.S., and fewer than 20 million LGBT Americans. Even when you account for the Protestant Irish in the US, we just don't have the power to affect a country's policies by leading half-hearted boycotts of ONE of its products. All we have the power to do is hurt Stoli, which would be a kick in the face to a company who spends a lot of money sponsoring our Pride parades here in the States.

What an inflammatory gesture, really. Want to help? Send some money to a gay group fighting their government's policies in Russia. If you must, stay away from the bar a few nights this month and send a whopping check.

Besides, Stoli's a good mid-priced vodka that mixes well. Sounds like a good idea about now.

Posted by In Bad Company | June 5, 2007 8:56 PM

shouldnt we boycott bigger, more dangerous, russian products like authoritarianism?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 5, 2007 8:58 PM


Read to the end of the post, peeps.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2007 8:58 PM

While you are at it why don't you protest Piroshky Piroshky down in the Pike Place Market too? Oh wait, they are from Estonia, but it makes about the same amount of sense.

This is just purely reactionary bullshit. I understand the desire to help the cause, I saw it too and it was pretty awful, but hurting Stoli won't affect anything. Not to mention that they seem like prety good sponsors and that they are the sole sponsor of that show. You think they should be commended for setting a good example, when I'm sure they probably got shit for it.

This seems very misguided. There's has got to be a better way to protest, but it's probably not as brainless as choosing Absolut over Stoli.

Posted by fyodor | June 5, 2007 9:32 PM

More useful - boycotting imported Russian Oil.

Just walk to work.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2007 10:36 PM

I have not had time to do any real research, but remember Stoli was a big sponsor of the Queeer Film Fest along with the Stranger and the SGN.

I think they have sponsored other events as well in recent years in the gay community in Seattle....Our rub/fight needs to be with the City of Moscow, and we will get some change by international indignation.....via the EU.

A hot air, grandstanding boycott is silly and useless.... and not reality based.

Posted by Jack on the Hill | June 5, 2007 10:57 PM

i hate vodka. i hate russians. i hate everyone and everything. but especially vodka, and especially russians.

Posted by adrian! | June 5, 2007 10:57 PM

I just don't get - what does Stoli have to do with the gay parade? Also, last time I checked Moscow citizens voted against hosting gay parade in their city by 95%, which seems to be a majority. But still, what is the relationship between vodka and the parade??? And if people here feel like writing and posting "I hate Russians" is just fine, why don't I say "I hate blacks in downtown Seattle, who behave like monkeys fighting for bananas, and drunk Russians actually look more appealing to me than the monkeys?" Crazy blog you got here.

Posted by Chris | June 5, 2007 11:15 PM

Frarf, the quoted blog,, says Stoli "appears" to be made in Latvia. They don't cite the source, so who knows. I sure couldn't find where it's made or bottled.

Either way, as others have said, boycotting Stoli probably won't do shit to Russia. There are other high end vodkas produced in progressive countries though. Absolut, for example is (for the time being) owned by Sweden.

Posted by Ebenezer | June 5, 2007 11:35 PM

"U.S. State Department operatives (the earpieces are a dead giveaway)" -- ah, unless that's their cell phone, State Dept people don't do such things (and if anyone has tried to obtain a passport or visa they know that the State Dept is not equipped, nor inclined towards, anything remotely representing a labor saving device).

Posted by Nick | June 5, 2007 11:40 PM

I bet there there some very happy & inebriated C.H.U.D. tonight in Manhattan.

Posted by Underground Dweller | June 6, 2007 12:11 AM

Yeah that sure worked for Freedom Fries, didn't it. The French immediately changed... their.... wait a minute.

Can we please pick a target with a modicum of likelihood of success? Instead of looking like our knees are jerking.

Posted by Andy Niable | June 6, 2007 12:55 AM

Dan, I know you shouldn't have to shepherd everyone around here - but honestly - it's a bit of a misleading post. You can't expect every smart person like Fnarf and I to read all the way through. I mean, let's face it - there are many drunks here that read about three words and nod off and then somehow still can post some argument. Baffling, really.

Anyway - your boycott seems weak. Why not just snipe a Russian? Seems like a good start :p. I kid I kid. But still, letting the word out? What are you working for a newspaper or something?

Posted by Sam | June 6, 2007 1:20 AM

Dan - I think you need to add a teaser to the beginning of this post that indicates what's coming up in the last paragraph. Soooo many of these responses seem to think the message was, "Russia hates gays so boycott Stoli"

It doesn't seem like anyone got to, "hey, corporately, Stoli sponsors shows on a gay network"

Posted by Jason | June 6, 2007 3:11 AM

I switched from Stoli to Crater Lake awhile ago. i like to support local businesses.

Posted by elswinger | June 6, 2007 6:53 AM

to the liquor store today to get Crater Lake, sounds yummy with fresh squeezed lime from very ripe limes -- cranberry -- do not like sweet drinks or cock

thanks for the tip

Posted by lloyd | June 6, 2007 7:25 AM

" but it's produced in Tambov, a city in the Crimea."

Which, last time I checked was in the UKRAINE, not Russia.

If you want to feel good about the vodka you drink buy Finnish vodka.

Posted by K X One | June 6, 2007 7:38 AM

Like Dan said this is a stupid idea. What would be better would be a well organized tourism boycott of anti gay countries, whether they be in the Caribbean or Russia. Gays with the disposable income and few children do love to travel and when they do they like to send money. Advocating that all gays and gay supporters stop traveling to oppressive countries might at least get some good attention.

Posted by Giffy | June 6, 2007 7:43 AM

ummmm, can I drink Smirnoff still??

Posted by war pigs | June 6, 2007 7:57 AM

Hate to break it to you, but I'm meeting your challenge, Dan; you used pussy as perjorative in your first paragraph.

Posted by Sasha | June 6, 2007 7:59 AM

Jesus christ the goddamn English police are back.

Drink Swedish vodka!

Posted by JessB | June 6, 2007 8:05 AM

Drink brown liquor.

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2007 8:10 AM

Sasha: I did not.

Posted by Dan Savage | June 6, 2007 8:12 AM

what a sad, misguided attempt at a protest. but i guess that's what you get from a bunch of gay old farts, including the one that invented the monstrosity known as the rainbow flag. they were doomed to be misguided from the very beginning.

Posted by um | June 6, 2007 8:13 AM

Underlying theme:

Don't ever boycott anything - just perpetually think about taking action and continue to talk about how pointless it is to protest.

It's much more fun to complain and whine and wonder why someone can't come up with something really great to do.

Masturbation Nation!

Posted by patrick | June 6, 2007 8:24 AM

Hey everyone, this is Jeremy from Good As You (the sourced blog at the end of the post). To answer Ebenezer/R16 -- I am not fully sure that the Stoli that is exported by a private company is produce SOLELY in Latvia. But it is, at least, in part. Because of this, the Russian govt. has actually tried to force them to change the "Made In Russia" label on their bottles. In fact, the true irony of all this that the Russian govt. seems to not be so fond of the company that produces our Stoli, so they might even welcome a protest!

And then there is of course the huge issue of the company's pro-gay displays. I mean, they don't just sponsor a show on Logo -- they are the SOLE SPONSOR of an unapologetically pro-gay show that documents stories of queer life in America. And then they are a sponsor of not only a gay advocacy organization, but LAMBDA f***ing LEGAL! In terms of fighting for gay rights, you don't get much more active!

Posted by G-A-Y | June 6, 2007 8:32 AM


Let me take a wild guess... you're under 30 years old.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | June 6, 2007 8:44 AM

I thought pussy, in the way Dan used it, was short for pussycat.

Posted by elswinger | June 6, 2007 9:49 AM

Faster, KILL! KILL!

Forgot to mention that I totally love the ads too!


Posted by K X One | June 6, 2007 9:59 AM

From the Wiki Gods:

"It has been informally suggested in folk etymology that it is a shortened form of the word "pusillanimous" which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "showing a lack of courage or determination" or cowardly. This meaning would seem to be consistent with the intention of the word "pussy" when used as an insult toward a man. This term, however, comes from the Latin words pusillus (petty) and animus (spirit) and is unrelated to the Germanic derivations of puss and pussy."

Posted by elswinger | June 6, 2007 10:12 AM

Eh, fuck Ukraine too. Quite frankly, I'd be happy if Americans the world over began boycotting goods from every country that was morally offensive whether they oppress minorities, mutilate vaginas, or just generally treat their people like shit. We'd pay a bit more, but I think in the long run, we'd just end up buying less cheap crap from China, and more durable goods from Western Europe and Japan.

Posted by Gitai | June 6, 2007 10:36 AM

Jeremy @33. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by Ebenezer | June 6, 2007 11:11 AM

but aren't they buying stoli anyway just to pour it out as an act of protest? kind of defeats the purpose.

Posted by brad | June 6, 2007 12:06 PM

Stoli sucks anyhow. If you're going cheap, Monopolowa (potato vodka) kicks ass and I think Trader Joes in the NW carries it. There's tons of non-Russian vodka's that are as good or better than anything they produce. (To be fair, I'm not sure Poland is a hot-bed of gay rights these days).

Fuck it, just drink Grey Goose or Kettle One to be sure. Or Jesus, San Franisco's own Skyy brand ain't bad - it'd even be my brand if they didn't spell their name with two Y's (seriously guys!).

Posted by Dougsf | June 6, 2007 2:36 PM

For myself, I'll keep buying inexpensive American-made vodka and running it three times through the Brita filter. Ends up as quite high-grade stuff when you do that, too.

Posted by Geni | June 6, 2007 2:49 PM

"Eh, fuck Ukraine too. Quite frankly, I'd be happy if Americans the world over began boycotting goods from every country that was morally offensive whether they oppress minorities, mutilate vaginas, or just generally treat their people like shit. We'd pay a bit more, but I think in the long run, we'd just end up buying less cheap crap from China, and more durable goods from Western Europe and Japan."

And what is the Ukraine doing?
They ARE a seperate country from Russia and have different policies.
Enlighten us as to what their issues are will ya?

And NO Poland is NOT a country to support, if that's the tack you want to take...

Posted by K X One | June 6, 2007 3:16 PM


In Washington State only state run liquor stores sell hard alcohol, even then not every store carries the same thing. Trader Joe's only carries wine and beer up here.

Posted by elswinger | June 6, 2007 4:06 PM

#44: Oh crap, I forgot (see what 7 years of cornerstore booze access will do to your memory)!

In Portland you can get Monopolowa at Trader Joe's, but no one stocks it in the Bay Area besides BevMo, which pretty much carries everything.

Back on track, Stoli sucks. Grey Goose is great. Problem solved. And if your drinking flavored vodkas, I can't really help you.

Posted by Dougsf | June 6, 2007 4:44 PM

It's a shame, really. Stoli is by far my favorite vodka. I guess it's Ketel One for me until further notice.

Posted by Jennifer | June 10, 2007 1:36 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:37 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:38 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:38 PM

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