On August 22, at noon, the corner of the Novy Arbat street and Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring) was crowded. People were gathering to take part in the festive procession to honor the Russian Flag Day. But everyone's attention was diverted by a platform painted in all possible colors and boasting two flags - the three-color Russian one and the seven-color, rainbow one - as well as a huge banner running "Free love to free Russia". The space around was covered with about two hundred picturesque characters in feathers, leather, carnival costumes, chains, scarves, hats, holding balloons and little flags. Young, attractive and sexy. This column remained to be the largest, the most informal and the only one whose appearance reminded of the festivities in the streets. "Here, gays and lesbians came", was an excited remark of a member of the organizing committee in gray suit of an official. "Let them participate, why not? I just wish they didn't make a mess. It's a state high day after all..."
A group of foreigners standing by the "Metropol" hotel was ogling the gay platform with bewilderment. Still not believing their own eyes the businessmen addressed the participants with the words, "Do you know what this flag means?" In the West Russia is still viewed as a big village. Laughing, dancing and singing, the gay column entered the Vasilievsky slope and to the watchers' delight conducted an improvised concert. The public debut of the gay community in Moscow was not accompanied by the dramatism of the first open demonstration of their brothers and sisters held in Greenwich Village 30 years earlier. But it seemed to have no lesser importance for their struggle for gay rights and freedoms.