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Why this Year’s Winter Olympics is Going to Be Very Gay

Why this Year’s Winter Olympics is Going to Be Very Gay

With the Sochi Olympics and Paralympic games opening on Friday, a Canadian diversity group has a message for Russia: no matter how hard you try, the Winter Games will always be, well, a little gay.

Here’s why:

That, friends, is the luge. Though admittedly in the event itself the outfit might be slightly different (more padding, for one), the pelvic thrusting is very much an integral part of the sport.

This attention getting campaign video is the work of The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI), which as the name suggests is an equality group that as part of its mission statement seeks to help employers and management groups embrace inclusion.

In releasing the attention grabbing video, the group stresses that their pointing out the homoeroticism of the luge is all about keeping the focus on Sochi.

“The discrimination in Russia is unacceptable,” Michael Bach, Founder and CEO of the CIDI, is quoted as saying. “As an organization, we want to show our support, especially for the athletes competing at the Olympics in Sochi.”

The CIDI is also urging people to change their Facebook profile pictures into a luge-like equality sign which, once seen, is hard to forget.

20140204 - LGBT Olympic Equality Logo

The CIDI has a point though. In Russia, where national lawmakers have instituted a ban on so-called propaganda of “non traditional sexual orientations,” and where waving a rainbow flag in public can earn you an arrest and a fine, not to mention being beaten or raped, there apparently seems to be nothing suspect about grinding against another man or woman while wearing what is essentially a rubber suit. No worries about gay propaganda there, then?

Then of course there are aspects of other sports in the Winter Olympics that barely need to be mentioned, such as the form-hugging lycra attire of speed skating or the glitter and glamour of ice dancing. Given the Russian Duma’s paranoia over children being “exposed” to gay people, perhaps these events need a closer look too?

There are other reasons to say that the Sochi Olympics will be indelibly gay, and we’re not just talking about the German team’s choice of rainbow uniforms.

For one, the fact that while President Obama won’t be attending the Olympics, the US delegation will have prominently gay athletes. In fact, a number of world leaders are politely RSVPing with a firm “No” while sending gay politicians, among them Norway’s openly gay health minister who is taking his husband along for the trip.

Also, while the Mayor of Sochi has been busy telling the press that Sochi doesn’t have any gay people, the press has been busy interviewing gay people in gay clubs in Sochi. Of course, attention will be on Sochi’s gay population and how they are treated during these games. There are also rumors of several planned protests from gay rights campaigners within the area who will be supported with solidarity protests that are being planned in the United States, the UK and in other areas of Europe.

Then of course there are all the athletes who, try as the International Olympic Committee might, do plan to offer subtle forms of protest.

Belle Brockhoff who, while saying she won’t be making any overt statements against Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, has said that should she win a medal she will offer a quite elegant protest: Brockhoff plans to hold up six fingers, a reference to Article 6 of the Olympic Charter that state’s the IOC’s seemingly forgotten commitment to upholding and encouraging principles of nondiscrimination. Brockhoff joins around 52 other Olympians who have gone on record calling for a repeal of Russia’s anti-gay law.

So, there’s one thing for certain: try as Russia and the IOC have, gay people and gay rights are sure to be part of the Sochi Olympics.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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89 comments

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9:01PM PST on Feb 10, 2014

By the way. I have been meaning to make a point for a while.
Several people have made statements suggest that those of us in America (USA) should clean up our own house before pointing fingers elsewhere.

Just so those people understand. The LGBT community and their friends and families, have been working hard for many years at doing this, and we continue to do so. However for those of you that do not understand, we have a common phrase we use to describe ourselves. WE ARE FAMILY. That is not just those of us in the USA, UK, Uganda, China, Russia, or any other place on earth. We are family everywhere. We are everywhere, and we will stand up and shout wherever we see this type of unjust tyranny existing. So yes, we do need to clean up our own house here in the USA, but that doesn't mean we should help our neighbors clean house as well. The christian community in the USA didn't keep it to the USA they have sparked hate campaigns all over the globe, so why shouldn't the LGBT community spark a little love campaign?

12:12PM PST on Feb 9, 2014

thanks Steve for the article and video.

9:02AM PST on Feb 9, 2014

Top five reasons to boycott Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, listing human and animal rights' violations:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/sochi-2014-winter-olympics-top-five-boycotts-1435447

2:38AM PST on Feb 9, 2014

Splendid video. But as for not telling a foreign country to obey one's rules, I went to an AllOut protest about the Russian legislation in London last week, and a significant proportion of the protesters *were* Russians. One told me that Russian homophobia had given her no choice but to leave, and that there was a brain drain from Russia as any gay person who was able to go to another country for university education did so, with the hope of never returning.

9:01PM PST on Feb 8, 2014

ty

4:26PM PST on Feb 8, 2014

Julia M.
Sorry but the comparison to women wearing or not wearing headdress is not a good one. Although I think it is wrong to force such things on anyone do to your own religious beliefs. Those are things where people choose a religion. What we are talking about is people who are born gay and have no choice in that matter. They should not have to be treated poorly just because of someone else's religious beliefs. That is what it is by the way. The Russian Orthodox Church has much influence in the whole thing, just like the crazy fundamentalist in the USA do. It is bad to force choice on some one such as religion, but when you try to force something that is against a persons very nature, that is just way beyond wrong

11:06AM PST on Feb 8, 2014

I don't want to see the Olympics to be boycotted, I would just like to see the sponsors step up and acknowledge their support for the Gay community. As far as the law not promoting violence against gays goes... Yes it does. When the Central government starts passing laws restricting a minority they are telling the population at large that there is something wrong with those people. And for the record holding up a rainbow flag is not providing info to minors about being gay. Even more important is the fact that if that were the only intention of the law, it would still be wrong. How are all those young people who know they are gay going to get help understanding themselves and dealing with the crap they have to go through without some support from councilors and groups that are qualified to help with their unique situations. Remember that people are gay. They aren't turned gay. Educating young people about gay rights will not make them gay, it will only help them be themselves and not have to live lonely painful lives in the closet.

10:31AM PST on Feb 8, 2014

And they are killing stray dogs. Putin is a farce and a pompous ass.

10:19AM PST on Feb 8, 2014

As a Canadian and an ethnic Russian I'm a bit embarrassed for you, CIDI. Russia is a foreign country, you know. You don't tell a foreign country to obey your rules. A woman (a Westerner in particular) in general is not required to cover her hair in a number of Sharia countries. But if she strips a veil off loudly and provocatively, and also starts a "protest" that no local woman should wear a veil, guess what happens. This is called disrespect. I can bet, she can't wave a rainbow flag in a Sharia country either.

For those who say "we saw videos". I have to admit I didn't watch any videos. I've read some Russian blogs and reports. There was a number of attention whores (no insult to sexual workers intended) who started doing provocative things after the amendment came out. I read somebody's blog, he was surprised to see so many straight people doing "gay propaganda" of sorts, holding provocative slogans (like "Sodom to every home") and such. "Waving a flag" doesn't protect anybody's rights, in fact can antagonize people. Russia has its own share of social problems nobody writes about. But don't mix hysteria with everyday human rights.

3:35AM PST on Feb 8, 2014

You're allowed to be gay, the law bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines for providing information about the gay community to minors. I'm not certain that many people see this actually fueling harassment and occasional acts of violence by what we would normally call bullies or thugs. Of course, as athletes, they should stay out of politics.

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