Writing my post on a prosecution under Russia’s ban on propaganda of homosexuality to children, I learned about the name of a Russian online support group for gay and lesbian children — “Children-404” (“Дети-404”).

As their logo shows, the group is named after the familiar Internet error message 404, “Page not found”; the slogan above that, in Russian, is “I refuse to be invisible.” Compare, for a similar use of 404, the “Error 404: Democracy Not Found” line. Such uses of a computer error number — not usually a very charismatic term — as a referent struck me as unusual and thus worth noting, though I think that they might be quite effective for an audience of computer-savvy adolescents.

Incidentally, since Russian adjectives change ending based on the gender of the noun that is modified — including the sex of the speaker when the adjective refers to the speaker — the slogan is actually a woman saying “I refuse to be invisible,” although the group appears to be aimed at men as well as women. (We Russians are constantly thinking about sex.) I wonder whether the choice of the female statement reflects a desire to present female rather than male homosexuality as the first impression of the group (which might well have been a sound public relations choice), just reflects the founder’s being a woman, or maybe just reflects a need to choose some gender if the sentence is to be in the first-person singular.