LGBTQ Support Continues In the Face of Russian Law
With the hype surrounding Russia’s anti-gay laws, one may have missed that the Sochi 2014 Olympics have started. They have indeed begun, and have become the platform for a number of supporters of the LGBTQ community to show their discontent with the Russian government despite strict local laws and rules in the Olympic Charter.
The subtle protests began when it was announced that neither the President, the Vice President, not the Vice President would be present at the games. Many immediately interpreted this as the Obama administration’s form of protest, but it was later released that they would not be in attendance simply because they were “too busy”. However, Obama did select three openly LGBTQ athletes to be ambassador’s in the US presidential delegation. “There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said President Obama.
Openly-gay snowboarder Belle Brockhoff has planned to make a few subtle gestures to show her disproval of Russia’s legislation, the first of which was her outing herself to the public. Brockhoff admits that she had been open to members of her private life, but kept her sexuality and her sports separate. She changed this in order to make clear her stance against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws. “I honestly find it a little bit disrespectful and a little bit sad, not only to me, but to other athletes and, you know, it’s my dream and I want to be able to be who I am, be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work that has gotten me to the Olympics and not have to deal with this kind of a law,” she said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
While in Russia, Brockhoff does not plan on making overtly political gestures. Brockhoff believes that the Olympics are being held for the sports involved, not the politics. However, after she competes and has left Russia, she is “willing to rip [Putin’s] ass” as she put it in an interview with Yahoo Sports. That being said, Brockhoff is a strong supporter of the Principle Six campaign, a cause named after the anti-discrimination clause in the Olympic charter, and plans to “hold up six fingers to represent Principle Six.” She knows neither where nor when she will do this.
Gay pride was also donned by a couple countries in the form of rainbow attire. The German sports team announced that their uniforms would rainbow patterns. This was immediately accepted as a form of LGBTQ support, but German officials later announced that the costume choices were not in response to Russian legislation. Even still, the Greek team entered with white gloves and rainbow fingers, and neither admitted nor denied that they were a symbol of LGBTQ support. Finally, openly-gay snowboarder Cheryl Maas flashed her glove, which was decorated with rainbows and unicorns.
As one can see, there is a wide variety in the support of the LGBTQ community at the Olympics this year. Still, of the openly LGBTQ athletes at Games, there are those who do not plan on showing support at all. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, who won the silver medal in the Ski Jumping Ladies’ Normal Hill Individual, said that she would not be showing LGBTQ support in Sochi because “no one cares”. She continued to explain her case, saying that she was there as a sportswoman, and not a politician. “I know Russia will go and make the right steps in the future and we should give them time,” she concluded.
Regardless of the importance of LGBTQ support in Sochi, athletes, politicians, and corporate supporters alike have made it a point to show their acceptance and encouragement of the LGBTQ community. Perhaps these subtle protests will continue and gain more recognition, but if not, we can be content with the amount of support shown by Jonny Weir’s apparel.
Antony Shipman is a student at Bennington College, and is interning with GayRVA/RVA Mag for the months of January and February. Antony, who is relatively new to the world of journalism, is hoping to learn more about the business by working closely with the staff of GayRVA/RVA Mag. When not at work, Antony is likely to be found giving affection to a cat or sitting in his apartment with a book in his hands.
A new video has come out by some Russian Youtubers which really helps illustrate the point.July 13, 2015
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