Straight Olympian Nick Symmonds Speaks Against Russia’s Antigay Laws

NickSymmondsThese laws, which do not expressly prohibit being homosexual, criminalize public discussion of homosexuality, especially with foreigners. As an American, I believe in freedom of speech and equality for all, and therefore disagree with the laws that Russia has put in place. Given that I am currently residing in London, I will say, once again, that our LGBT neighbors deserve all the same rights as the rest of us. However, as an American who is about to reside in Moscow for 12 days, this will be the last time I will mention this subject.

I say this not out of fear of prosecution by the Russian government, but out of respect for the fact that I will be a guest in the host nation. Just as I would not accept a dinner invite to a friend’s house and then lecture them on how to raise their kids, neither will I lecture the Russian government on how to govern their people.

This idea does go one step deeper, though. I am going to Russia to represent my country on the track. This civilized battlefield is where the best athletes in the world come together to metaphorically destroy each other. In the battle of the men’s 800 meters, there are no weapons, no generals, no politicians involved, and actually very little contact at all. What you will find are 50 men who all want to become the next world champion, and who will figuratively and literally bleed to do so.

I will say now what I said before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, when people asked me how I felt competing in a foreign country with questionable human rights standards: The playing field is not a place for politics. In a world rife with never-ending political battles, let the playing field be where we set aside our differences and compete for national pride and the love of sport.

If I am placed in a race with a Russian athlete, I will shake his hand, thank him for his country’s generous hospitality, and then, after kicking his ass in the race, silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home. Upon my return, I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union.

A huge thank you to all who follow my career, and give me the platform to speak out against injustices I see in the world, both with my words and with my feet.”

— Two-time U.S. Olympic runner and straight ally Nick Symmonds in a blog entry posted on Runner’s World

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  • litper

    No, actually he will support this law with his silence, while gay people will still be tortured and killed! We don’t need “allies” like him!!!

  • docO

    Another “straight ally” here, registered just to say how wonderful I think that blog post is and how sad litper ‘s post is. Please don’t be cynical, people. Straights and gays need to stand together, let’s not start the typical thing that unfairly marginalized groups sometimes tend to do–fighting amongst yourselves and/or your outside-group supporters. I think Nick Symmonds’ (whom I’d never heard of until now) stand is eloquent, classy, restrained yet definite and forceful. He’s a better man than I, at least–I would’ve just resorted to childish name-calling and made the cause look bad by association. Anyway, solidarity to all my gay friends and strangers.

  • litper

    What is wonderful in respecting the russian anti-gay genocide laws? Yeah, read it again, he said he respects it, won’t even say a word against it!

  • Modernliving3

    All this “noble activism” is a load of crap.
    I’m just curious if he would respectfully sit and watch his dinner host take a fist to his child who happens to be a little mouthy or impolite at the dinner table?
    I’m sick of hearing that the Olympics is no place for politics. Sorry, but you don’t get to dismissively toss aside human rights crimes as “politics” just so that your chance at winning a medal isn’t jeopardized – because when you do, you look like nothing more than a pathetic coward.
    The athletes who will make a statement IN Russia are the ones who really care. And to me, courage is more gold medal worthy than winning some foot race.

  • Modernliving3

    @docO: I sure hope you never have a child gettin this sh*t beaten out of him at school every day, because an eloquent pep talk at home is going to do nothing for him.

  • balehead

    Another self serving douche…big surprise…

  • carob

    Better not give any comments instead of such embarrassing ones. If they don’t care about human rights, why not just go to Russia silently and do their thing? Why pretend they care when it is perfectly obvious they don’t. I am not saying they need to care. But some of these straights want to have their cake and eat it. And they expect us to applaud them for that.

  • 2eo

    Never thought there’d be a time I agreed with Litper and Balehead, but they are spot on.

    This sanctimonious, self serving, status quo keeping, back door condoning of bigotry as “respect” drivel is better left in the 1950’s.

    Silence is murder. Condoning the silence is no better.

  • the other Greg

    “In a world rife with never-ending political battles, let the playing field be where we set aside our differences and compete for national pride and the love of sport.”

    Isn’t “national pride” inherently political?

    “silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home.” (!!!)

    I wonder why his gay and lesbian friends “back home” need his “silent” help? Oh let me guess, they tried to have their wedding reception at the Gortz Haus in Iowa and were turned away? Sorry, Russian gays in danger of getting killed, you’re on your own! You don’t even rate a “silent” dedication!

  • MK Ultra

    “These laws, which do not expressly prohibit being homosexual, criminalize public discussion of homosexuality, especially with foreigners.”

    I’m not sure I believe this part of the quote. Many have tried to emphasize the issue and say it’s really about “protecting the children and just not talking about gay stuff”, yet we know that’s not true. Gay people including young teenagers are kidnapped, raped, beaten, murdered, video-taped being degraded and humiliated. The Russian government does nothing.In fact, they encourage and endorse it.

    And, maybe this is just me, but it sounds like he’s trying to soft sell the whole “athletes work hard for this and their sport is much more important than the lives of a scapegoated and vulnerable minority who have no one to defend them from the tyranny of their own government”

    Why the world always takes a blind eye to this sort of atrocity till it spins way out of control is beyond me…oh yeah, that’s right – money.

  • Stache1

    Wow. For once I agree with the comments 100%. Spot on MK Ultra.

  • Stache1

    Btw. getting your glamour no hate shots is no longer edgy. I’ve seen multiple guys use them as their adam4adam and Manhunt pics. Sorry but that just kind of ruined it for me.

  • PSPoolside

    If he went to dinner at his friends and they were beating their children I’d expect him to say and do something. The “host” excuse only goes so far and doesn’t work well in this case. It’s not about good manners.

  • crowebobby

    @litper: Learn how to read! He said he respects the fact that he will A GUEST there, not that he respects any of their laws.

  • jckfmsincty

    I’ll be boycotting the Russian Olympics. I will not watch any of the televised games as I usually would do.

  • 2eo

    @crowebobby: The tacit implication in his silence is all the condonation that is needed. Litper was spot on. This is absolutely spineless.

  • balehead

    Equal rights always get kicked to the curb when corruption and money are involved….

  • litper

    Queerty, please remove this misleading “news”. I say it as a gay Russian, and Nick is certainly not an ally of any Russian gay man or lesbian woman.

  • J.c.

    Of course none of the athletes want a boycott they have been working their ass off to compete and there is money in endorsements in winning and a bright future and the big money companies of course are hoping to cash in big time BUT Russia’s laws and persecution truly are another Nazi Germany in the making so we as the consumers must take a stand. I am for a boycott for sure!

  • Palto

    I love the kids analogy. So if he has dinner at somebody’s house as a guest and the host is beating the living shit out of his kid he’s just gonna sit there.

    Uh ok.

  • 2eo

    @Palto: Stellar simile Palto. Couldn’t make a better one myself. He’s absolutely spineless, and it being reported as positive is pathetic.

  • Ridpathos

    I really hated this whole noh8 picture thing with the stupid duct tape. How is taking modelesque photos with a stupid slogan supposed to help gay people? I’m sick of seeing the dumb pictures.

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  • Cee

    Russia gave Edward Snowden asylum. I don’t see how we can call Russia an ally of the United States. And Obama has not demanded the Russians turn over Snowden. Can you imagine the outrage the United States would receive from Russia if we started granting asylum to people who break their laws and flee to the United States? Snowden has 3 felony charges in the United States and ran like a coward to Russia and they granted him asylum. What a joke.

  • 2eo

    @Cee: Shut up. Snowden is a hero, and it’s pathetic the Obama administration is going after someone for speaking the truth.

    I’d hand you over for rendition long before him.

  • litper

    Snowden is an enemy of gay people!!!

  • Stache1

    @litper: How so?

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  • jonjak13

    Nick says that he would not accept an invitation to a friend’s house for dinner and then tell them how to raise their children. He claims that would be disrespectful. What if your hosts were beating and torturing and killing their children? Would he still remain silent. I think Nick is a hypocritical coward who has his head up his ass. We don’t need “friends” like him.

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