Let me be clear: I cannot tell you with any certainty that this letter actually came from an “ordinary Russian gay guy.” What I can tell you is that it was emailed to me today (Friday, March 4) at 4:33 p.m. central time. I can tell you there is a name attached to the email — a man’s name that “sounds Russian” (I am not publishing the name in case this is real, because I don’t want to put this person in more danger). I can tell you that what the writer says in this email sounds legitimate based on what we know of life for LGBTQ people in Russia and Chechnya.

That said, I am going to reprint the email here, exactly as it was sent to me. Take it or leave it. But understand this: LGBTQ people in Russia live every day in danger, as do LGBTQ people in many other countries. And LGBTQ people in Ukraine know that if Russia takes control, their lives are very likely forfeit.

So, as you get ready for your weekend and whatever that entails, think of this “ordinary Russian gay guy,” and realize how good your life is. And as the ordinary Russian gay guy says: “Spread the truth; spread the love; protect the freedom!”

“Hello. I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, if it’s inappropriate, just ignore this message. But I need to spread this at least somehow safely for me. If you have a minute, please read this. If you have another one, please share this any way possible without linking me, as it threatens my life. Whatever you decide, thank you!

Statement from an ordinary Russian gay guy.

“I’m crying. I’m terrified. I’m ashamed. By simply writing this letter, I’m risking my life and my freedom. The only thing I can’t risk is my future, because I don’t have one anymore — all destroyed by a single person, the dictator of Russia. But my concerns are nothing right now, because my country has started a war in Ukraine. My problems are nothing as long as the bombs are falling on Kharkiv, Kyiv and lots and lots of other peaceful cities of Ukraine. I have to make this statement.

“I see war in real time, death and suffering in Ukraine, and, at the same time, I see my country become something between North Korea and Germany of 1939. Not the best place to be an LGBT+ person. Right now, there is absolutely nothing more important than stopping this war, and we all should do absolutely everything that’s in our power to do it.

“But I know the war will end and the ones who are on the side of truth will win. And when the day comes, please remember this: Not all Russians like this. Millions and millions of us do not support this madness! You can blame us for our weakness, as we failed to protect our freedom and our democracy. But please don’t forget that we are against the war crimes of this regime.

“Soon the regime will come for us, for those who protested, for those who just said “NO WAR.” Yes, that simple: You can be arrested, beaten up and imprisoned just for a simple pin or print on your clothes — or even for having blue and yellow clothes. Orwell’s 1984 is our reality.

“Our last free channel, TVRain, will soon be destroyed. YouTube will be blocked, and the truth in Russia will definitively die. But that’s not all for me; as a gay guy I’m already under oppression here in Russia. But now all LGBT+ people will be forced back in closet, and true hateful crimes against us will start. The only thing I ask of you: Please don’t forget that we were against the war; we supported freedom and the right to be ourselves, and that’s why they came for us.

“Please, if you can, don’t be silent. Spread the truth to stop this war, and don’t forget we are not monsters, not all of us. I love you all. Spread the truth; spread the love; protect the freedom!