The Olympics are a time for the world to come together and have a friendly competition. The upcoming Winter Olympics are going to be a bit different though as they are a lot less friendly and a lot more mean. That’s because they are taking place in Russia, a country recently passed a plethora of anti-gay laws. These include laws that homosexuality cannot be “promoted”, which means no gay pride parades and no gays on television, the internet, or radio.
It has had a disastrous affect on the country as videos have recently been posted of teens being lured by gangs and killed due to their sexual orientation in Russia. The individuals in the videos who carry out the gruesome murders are subjected to no punishment, and they can therefore carry out more and more killings. Additionally, gay rights activists all over Russia are being arrested and persecuted for trying to fight for their rights, and they are looking for people around the world to give them a voice. The Olympics are the perfect time to give them a voice.
But what’s the way to do this? Should we go compete in the Olympics and give Russia financial support or should we not send our athletes to Sochi in 2014? Will having openly gay Olympians be a better way to stand up to their laws than not going at all? It’s a tough decision, and it has been highly debated throughout the media and the gay community.
Personally, I think that it will be a stronger show of support not to send our athletes than to have openly gay Olympians compete. That is because, by sending our athletes to Russia, we are basically saying that we are going to support the Russian government who have passed these homophobic laws, and we are going to support the Russian economy as well. If we don’t send our athletes, we will cause other countries to come forward and not send their athletes, and we can get Russia to notice that their homophobia is unacceptable.
Johnny Weir and other openly gay athletes have said that they are going to go and be open about their sexual orientation because they feel that it will send a positive image of the gay community to Russia. What Weir may not understand though is that, in Russia, they are most likely not going to show any clips of gay athletes in a positive way as it would break their “homosexual propaganda” law. Instead, Russia is probably going to make gay athletes look like perverts or animals int their coverage, and it will only hurt the gay Russian community. After all, a clip from Russian TV leaked this week that showed a Russian official saying that everything should be done as to ensure gays cannot procreate. He even suggested burying their hearts upon their death so that this does not happen. It’s crazy, I know, but is the bleak reality in Russia.
That’s why I feel that gay and gay friendly athletes should stay home from Sochi in 2014. After all, they hopefully wouldn’t go compete in the Olympics if it was held in Germany under Hitler, and this is a similar situation to me. While I understand of Weir and others, I feel that they are saying this because they have worked hard, and they do not want to give up the years of work they have put into training for their particular sport. To this, I say that they need to realize that sometimes it takes sacrifice in order to make change, and I urge them to reconsider going to Sochi for the Olympics. Instead, The current civil right’s movement was paved by people who gave up a lot to see the movement progress, and having a generation of people who are not willing to give up things to achieve a better world for all is simply going to set the movement back more.
In the meantime, the Sochi Olympics are still going to go on as planned. Athletes from around around the world are going to descend upon Russia, and they are going to give support for a government that promotes homophobia and bigotry. We may here a bit about gay athletes here in the States, but I doubt that anyone in Russia will even know that gay athletes are performing in the Olympics. That’s why I feel that we, as citizens of the United States and the world, need to show our disapproval for sending our athletes to compete in Russia. Instead, we need to let the men and women who want to compete that they are doing more harm than good by going, and tell them by staying home they are sending a message to Russia that their homophobia is unacceptable.