Singer Selena Gomez is a talented, award-winning pop superstar with a Top 10 album and multiple hit singles under her belt, as well as a worldwide following of devoted fans. Even if you don't recognize her name, you probably know her music -- her song "Come & Get It" was one of the songs of the summer this year.
But her life hasn't been entirely charmed: Gomez has revealed on numerous occasions that she was the victim of bullying while in school.
Next week Gomez is scheduled to perform two concerts in Russia -- one in St. Petersburg on the 23rd and the other in Moscow on the 25th.
As regular Bilerico readers know, Russia is a country that's currently bullying and persecuting its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. Under that country's new "gay propaganda" ban, it is now a crime to publicly acknowledge the LGBT community, say that gay relationships are equal to non-gay ones, organize an LGBT pride parade, or even simply hold a rainbow flag.
This and other anti-gay laws are legitimizing an alarming surge in hate-motivated beatings, torture, and murders of LGBT people across Russia.
For Gomez to go over to Russia in the middle of its barbaric crackdown and not condemn their assault on the rights of LGBT people would be incredibly irresponsible, not just for her as an artist, but as a human being. That's why I've created a Change.org petition calling on her to speak out for equality in Russia. Please click here to sign, then share over Facebook and Twitter.
Like many of us, Selena Gomez knows all too well how it feels to be bullied. Put those hateful bullies in charge of a country, and we start to get an idea of what LGBT people in Russia are going through.
As an international pop star, Gomez has a unique platform - and a special obligation - to join other celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Cher in speaking out against the Russian government's bullying of LGBT people. By speaking out, Selena can let LGBT folks in Russia know that we stand with them, and that they are not alone.
The more pressure we can put on artists like Selena Gomez (and Elton John, for that matter) to use their performances in Russia to stand up for LGBT equality, justice, and basic human rights, the more voices we'll add to the chorus of outcry against their barbaric laws. The more voices in the chorus, the stronger our message to the Russian government will be: attacking LGBT people is not acceptable. Enough is enough.
Click here to sign the petition at Change.org.
UPDATE: When news of my petition came to the attention of Russian authorities, they yanked her visa. It's not every day you cause an international controversy from your bedroom!