A service station in Russia got more than it bargained for this week when men donned bikinis and fancy two-pieces to take advantage of a free fuel offer.
The publicity stunt, dreamt up by managers of the Olvi service station in the city of Samara, involved free fuel for customers wearing bikinis, in a bid to lure bikini-clad women to the business.
What management didn’t expect was that local men would also take up the offer, joining their female counterparts in skimpy attire to fill their cars with free petrol.
While the promotion lasted just three hours, social media users captured photos of numerous men wearing sexy swimsuits and itsy-bitsy bikinis, reported Bored Panda. Some went even further and donned high heels.
The scenes were especially unusual for Russia, where non-traditional gender representations arouse considerable controversy.
In May 2014, when Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst won that year’s Eurovision Song Contest, many Russians expressed outrage. Some wrote to officials calling for Wurst to be banned from visiting Russia. Others said Russia, which has taken part in Eurovision since 1984, should withdraw from the contest.
In December 2014, Russia passed a road safety law allowing the government to deny driver’s licenses to people with several classes of “mental disorders”, with one of the alleged disorders being “transsexualism”.
While the statute was subsequently removed, Russia still maintains its “LGBT propaganda law”, which was first signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June 2013.
The law (officially known as “On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development”) effectively bans the public promotion of LGBTQI culture, relationships and representations.
Twitter users were quick to point out the juxtaposition of men wearing bikinis in a country where gender roles are rigid and LGBTQI people treated poorly.
“Ironically, this is one of the most intolerant countries to gay people,” one noted.
“Putin definitely won’t like this,” wrote another.
While one simply quipped: ‘Bikinis they wanted, bikinis they got.”