WORD ON THE STREET

Q&A: Vancouver’s Queers Sound Off On Russia’s Olympics

Welcome back to Word on the Street, where we ask gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans folk and allies from around the world a topical question.

For this edition, we visited the super gorgeous, progressive city of Vancouver, BC during their LGBT pride weekend. The city played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and given the nonstop feed of upsetting, cray-cray, virulently homophobic developments in Russia it seemed best to ask:

Should there be a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics?

James

James, 29

Interior Designer

“No, because it sends a louder message to present a strong voice for equality [by being] there and demonstrating to Russia on their own turf that the international community doesn’t support their oppressive stand. A boycott takes us out of the public and media eye and to be more effective you need to be present, so all the LGBT athletes and allies should go and be vocal and let it be known to Russia that people think their policies are not OK.”

 

Tom

Tom, 19
Barista

“I think we should boycott them. They’re using LGBTs as a scapegoat [and distraction] for their troubled economy. If gay athletes go to the Olympics they could be arrested. Whats the point of shipping people over there to be arrested?”

 

Tanya

Tanya, 43

Mental Health Worker

“It’s a bit complicated. I’d feel bad for the athletes who have been training for so long to compete if they couldn’t go. But I do think there should be a lot of pressure on Russia to change their policies around LGBT individuals and I also really worry about how the openly gay and LGBT-supportive athletes are going to be treated while there. I know it will never happen because it’s too close timewise, but I like the idea of moving the games to a [progressive] city that has facilities in place.”

 

Jesse

Jesse, 22
Retail

“I like the idea of boycotting the Olympics more than boycotting Stoli vodka. Its more a statement to the government than a company that is gay supportive. At the same time it would be good to have pro-gay tourists in Russia during the Olympics to say ‘we support you’ – although they might get arrested for that! As for moving the games here instead, I wasn’t super stoked at the time of the 2010 games as a local, but I could see it moving here. Politically it would be a good move.”

 

Jordan

Jordan, 20

Face Painter

“I’m not necessarily a huge supporter of the Olympics anyway, because I think professional athletes are grossly overpaid. But I think if it comes down to people’s rights and the Olympics are having an effect on that, then we should definitely boycott it. No sport should be more important than human rights.”
Hugo

Hugo, 51

Artist

“I think we should boycott everything Russian. The liquor stores should pour out their Russian vodka. It will get Russia in the pocketbook and that’s where it counts.”

 

Nathan

Nathan, 54
Food and Travel Journalist
“When you look at the Olympics, politics aren’t supposed to be involved, but they have been. Russia boycotted the USA Olympics when Los Angeles hosted it in 1984. Its more a case of money and advertising. Its big money. You have to take out the politics. It’s unfortunate a lot of people see it as an LGBT rights issue. Hands down to me its human rights, period.  I think the world should step in with [pressure from] trade and finance.”