Members of the queer activist group Queer Nation are claiming responsibility for disrupting an appearance by newly-out Olympian Brian Boitano at a gallery event in New York City last night. According to reports, three protesters heckled Boitano after he was introduced for failing to speak out against anti-gay legislation in Russia.
Boitano recently came out after being appointed to represent the United States as part of an official delegation attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi. As one of three openly gay delegates selected by President Barack Obama, many believe it is his duty to publicly condemn Russia’s laws banning “gay propaganda.”
According to Queer Nation, this is how it all went down:
Brian Boitano was appearing at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art as part of a panel to discuss “how the mind and brain work.” Tim McHenry, the director of public programs and performance at the Rubin, introduced Boitano “with admiration,” calling him “a courageous champion of human rights and artists.”
Apparently this was an appropriate time to interrupt:
“When did he do that and what is it that he said?” shouted Duncan Osborne, one of the protesters. “He’s going to a country with a record of abusing human rights, especially the rights of gay men and women, and he has yet to speak out about it,” Osborne continued.
“Stand up and tell us what you are going to do what are you going to say in Russia,” yelled Jamie Bauer,” the other protester from Queer Nation. Boitano remained seated and silent and refused to acknowledge the protesters.
“Two members of Pussy Riot were imprisoned for protesting their government’s human rights record, and when they were granted amnesty ahead of the Olympics promptly denounced the amnesty and organized a protest,” said Bauer after the protest. “We haven’t seen nearly that kind of courage from Brian Boitano, who has much less to risk.”
Queer Nation’s account also suggests “the audience was uniformly hostile” and many booed. Osborne threatened to have audience members arrested for attempting to remove him, and the group was eventually “led peacefully out of the room by security guards.”
Osborne repeatedly yelled “you’re a coward” on his way out. No video documenting the event is currently available, but if you’d like to see Queer Nation disrupt other panels regarding the 2014 Winter Olympics, you can visit them on Tumblr.