MOSCOW — After she got home at 5 a.m. Vera Kichanova wrote on Facebook,"I thought all those awful homophobia stories happened outside the Garden Ring," referring to the avenue that circles central Moscow. "Inside the Garden Ring" is a geographic and social appellation: With its overpriced designer apartments, luxury boutiques and at least a couple of coffee shops on every block, the area is generally considered a world onto itself. Some use the term pejoratively, to indicate rich people who are out of touch with reality; others use it to denote a perceived protected space inside an increasingly reactionary country.
Kichanova, a 22-year-old journalist and municipal council member of a remote Moscow neighborhood, meant that she had felt safe inside the Garden Ring. Not that she had reason to think she needed protection against antigay violence: Although she has been an outspoken supporter of L.G.B.T. rights, she is married to a man and neither of them identifies as gay. In fact, most of the young people who went out to a trendy bar in central Moscow Saturday night did not identify as gay. Still, they got gay-bashed.