Brandon Lever says that after the Pulse shootings in Orlando, he felt numb but was called to action. He was similarly stirred by the news from Chechnya about the torture and imprisonment of gay men by police.
Lever began making buttons with the image of Vladimir Putin in drag, the same image banned in Russia. He handed them out through the Blue Suede Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of activist queer nuns of which he is a member, and this led to PutinIsADrag Memphis, a demonstration/march set for next Saturday downtown.
Lever, who is graduating from Central High School soon and heading for Rhodes College, says that silence is not an option. What is reportedly happening in Chechnya is horrific and intolerable, and such oppression bleeds together, be it aimed toward Muslims, women, blacks, immigrants, or LGBTQ.
"We're active in political movements for all issues, for all people, for all human rights," Lever says of the Blue Suede Sisters.
The event begins at Court Square and will move down Second, ending up at the National Civil Rights Museum, where there will be guest speakers and an exorcism of the Russian government performed by the nuns.
Lever says the nuns are about banishing hate and spreading happiness. The exorcism will involve glitter water and a toilet brush.
The family-friendly event is for anyone fighting for human rights, Lever says. "It doesn't matter why you're there as long as you're there."