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.
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.
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.
Photo credit: Thinkstock.