I believe that this is the hill we have to die on.
After watching only five minutes of stomach-wrenching videos of Russian Neo-Nazi groups kidnapping and torturing gays, I’m fighting angry tears and all I can think of is what it’s like to be in that young person’s shoes; what they thought, how scared they were…I guess we will never know – he died from the wounds inflicted by the attackers.
The attackers are claiming that they are cracking down on alleged pedophiles. The sad part is that only 16% of Russians have expressed support for gays. Now for a moment let’s just assume that that’s all of the gays in Russia. That would mean that the attackers are set to destroy, literally not just figuratively, of 16% of Russians who they consider less-Russian and less-human then themselves because of sexual orientation…and this is how oppression is born. One group decides to wipe out another one.
Star Trek’s George Takei says we should move the games, but having a friend who is on the team of advisors for the games, I know that it’s impossible to do so. The infrastructure is too expensive and Vancouver is not an option (no really it is not, we can’t afford them, mentally or financially). The push to relocate will be a waste of time and resources.
There are a few things though that will be meaningful and make history. And that is the athletes taking action in solidarity; all the athletes banding together and (creatively) boycotting the Olympics. Just imagine, for example, all of the competitors at the start line for the 30 km cross-country pursuit (or your favorite winter sport here), and when the signal goes off – no one moves. None of the athletes make a move to compete. They just stand there. As still as the heartbeat of the dead 22-year old gay man killed a week ago.
In the second version of my fantasy instead of standing still they start making out with each other.
Now these would be sights that the world will remember – the day when we collectively said no to dehumanizing policies, such as the Russian legislation against gays.
Canada also must seriously consider to take action against Russia anti-gay legislation has brought forth in light of the Sochi 2014 games. Here are some ways Canada can decide to make the wrong things right:
1. Skip hosting a pavilion (or whatever else we might be doing during the games)
2. Demand Canadian companies to terminate sponsorship of Sochi 2014
3. Withdraw all its athletes from the games, as a last resort
More about the torturing of gays in Russia on this link.