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SPEEDSKATING ON THIN ICE

Gay Russians Call For Boycott Of 2014 Olympics

BlakeSkjellerup-TrainingEven though boycotting the Winter Olympics generally describes how we feel about it anyway — the Summer Olympics, however, have our undivided attention — Russian gay rights activists are calling for even less attention to be lavished upon the quadrennial games in Sochi next year.

The proposed boycott is in response to the recently passed anti-gay propaganda law that imposes hefty fines for anyone promoting “non-traditional sexual relations.”

“LGBT people in Russia are scared, they live in fear, and we want people to be aware of the issue. If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi,” Nina Long, co-president of the New York-based RUSA LGBT told RIA-Novosti in an interview. “We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”

Russian-based gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev would probably agree with Long, having called the law an “incitement to genocide.” The social climate only seems to be getting worse for the country’s LGBT population as illustrated by recent violence against homosexuals — including the murder of two men over their sexual orientation in the past two months. Not content to discriminate within its own borders, the Russian government also decided to impose a ban on international same-sex couples from adopting.

The International Olympic Committee released a statement after the passage of the anti-propaganda law that it would embrace openly gay athletes traveling to Sochi in 2014. “The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games,” a spokesman told Gay Star News. “The IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.”

For Long, however, that dog just won’t luge. “They have to put up the statement like that, otherwise it’s an international scandal, but it’s a lie,” she said. “It’s just to make it hush-hush and nice on some international level.”

We’re not sure of the prospect of any athletes, openly gay or otherwise, boycotting the 2014 Olympics since it’s something they’ve trained for all their lives. Frequently disrobed gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup has expressed at least some trepidation, but hopes he can inspire “some positive change.” Meanwhile figure skater/unicorn Johnny Weir advised gay athletes to tone it down while in Russia — hopefully he was wearing  a subtle latex catsuit featuring nipple cut-outs when he said it.

But what about you, dear and queer reader, do you intend to boycott the Sochi Olympics?

[Ed. note: Skjellerup was originally referred to as a gay Russian athlete but he's from New Zealand. Still gay, though.]

By:           Les Fabian Brathwaite
On:           Jun 19, 2013
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
  • 9 Comments
    • Dakotahgeo
      Dakotahgeo

      Russia shoots itself in the foot again, and again, and again, and again, etc., etc., etc., etc. You would almost expect it to be the birth center of the American Republican Party and its little tomboys, the TPods!

      Jun 19, 2013 at 9:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terranboy
      terranboy

      Everything that I have read about Blake Skjellerup says that he was born in New Zealand, lives in New Zealand, and skates for New Zealand. Where did this author get the idea that Blake is Russian?

      Jun 19, 2013 at 9:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      The author, like so many gays, know very little about sports hence why he/she said Skellerup is Russian.

      Jun 19, 2013 at 10:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mlbumiller
      mlbumiller

      Skjellerup is a Danish surname not Russian.

      Jun 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lester Brathwaite
      Lester Brathwaite · Queerty Editor

      @miagoodguy: Nope, not a damn gay thing.

      Jun 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @Lester Brathwaite: To be fair none of us are surprised you didn’t do any actual checks.

      Jun 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • braendyn
      braendyn

      Alright. I have to question the abilitiy to comprehend written words for about 4 of the 6 people that have responded to this.

      Summary:
      The winter Olympics will be held in Russia. Russia as a nation are being dicks toward gay people. There is an openly gay speed skater who is expected to be participating in the Winter Olympics which are held in…Russia.

      This openly gay Olympic speed skater, is not Russian nor does the article imply or state that he is.

      However, his statement is pertinent to the discussion because…? Thats right. It is anticipated that he will be competing in the winter Olympics within the borders of Russia when those games are held.

      As an openly gay athlete, he hopes his participation will lead to ‘positive change’

      do we all understand this now?

      Jun 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      Anyone with a knowledge of Olympic history knows that boycotts of the games have had their own problems. Like it or not, the enormous investment of time and energy that athletes invest in participating is nothing like on the same scale that it takes the rest of us to walk past a Chick-fil-A or take a pass on Florida orange juice (ala Anita Bryant).

      The competing boycotts of the 1980s (Moscow and then LA) are widely seen as having accomplished little.

      What has largely been missing from the debate is asking what do Russian LGBTs themselves want others to do. Their opinion is not monolithic — the bar owners and other “good homosexuals” have typically poo poo’d pickets and demonstrations, not unlike the “good homosexuals” here who denounced Stonewall, etc. back in the day.

      On the other hand, those who have done the most to put the issue of LGBT rights on the Russian national agenda, organizing illegal demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and many other cities, hand in hand with organizing legal fights going right up to the European Court, have a different opinion.

      Here is what Nikolai Alekseev, the most prominent among them, had to say on Facebook on Saturday night (our time):

      It’s official! Organising Committee of Moscow Gay Pride and founders of the banned Pride House Sochi decided today against the boycott of Winter Olympics in Sochi and instead to organise Winter Sochi Pride on the day of the opening of Olympic Games on 7 February 2014. Join us! It will be much more effective to draw attention to official homophobia in Russia all around the world and expose the hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee which went into discriminatory agreements with Russian regime and of the European Court of Human Rights which still has not considered our complaint concerning the unlawful denial to register Pride House Sochi! Vive Sochi Pride 2014

      ******

      I have been more than a bit disturbed about the ignorance among many LGBTs in the West — signaled by their hints of superiority — which ignore the complicity of our U.S. politicians, esp. the Obama administration, for the current state of affairs in Russia. Yes, the Russian politicians are primarily to blame in this instance, but the Obama administration has been crassly cynical about aiding and abetting this in order to promote its own geopolitical interests.

      Jul 29, 2013 at 10:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sebbie3000
      sebbie3000

      @miagoodguy: Umm… where in the article did that happen?

      Oh, right, nowhere! I might not know a lot about sport, but at least I can read and comprehend articles.

      Anyway, I think it is time that the IOC were made aware of the rules that Russia will be breaking, contrary to their ‘rule 50′. I do believe Stephen Fry has covered that, though. They must just be looking the other way.

      Another idea might be to pressure the largest sponsors and advertisers. Surely, if the fact that what’s happening to Russian LGBTs isn’t enough, then the potentially greater loss of money from the event should at least go someway to curbing it?

      Aug 13, 2013 at 11:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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