This Backside Beauty Pageant Masks An LGBTQ Support Network

Dec 03, 2014 at 10:29 AM ET

While the public atmosphere toward homosexuality in Russia tends to be hostile, one VKontakte group is walking a tightrope between promoting the LGBTQ cause and maintaining its members’ anonymity.

The LGW (Lesbian and Gay Whisper) group on VK, Russia’s Facebook, has more than 110,000 members who apparently have enough confidence in the group’s administrators to organize a very unconventional contest—a “Beautiful Ass Pageant.” An analysis of the group’s members shows 46 percent of them are female, 68 percent are from Russia and 13 percent are from the Ukraine. Despite its risqué material, for many LGBTQ youths, the LGW group offers a safe online shelter amid rising homophobia in their hometowns.

The rules of the competition, which was launched two days ago, are pretty simple: Submit a high-quality photo of your derriere. Be creative, be sexy, but not vulgar (no frontal nudity is permitted on the group page).

The owner of Eurasia’s most gorgeous glutes will receive a hot New Year’s greeting from the administrators, but it seems that participation itself is rewarding enough for those who live in a country with official homophobic laws.

This competition might raise a few eyebrows in Russia, but the LGW group’s aim is not to provoke, rather to allow Russian gays and lesbians to share their stories, thoughts and photos anonymously, by sending them to the administrators who then anonymously post them on the group’s wall. The LGW group even offers LGBTQ dating services for Russians, Ukrainians and Kazakhs via designated forums.

Translation: “My brother saw the bookmark of the group LGW—he won’t talk to me anymore.”

Translation: “I’m in love with the photos of couples on LGW. It lifts my spirit.”