A friend posted a comment today on Facebook, regarding boycotting the Sochi Olympics. I replied, but it got me thinking about a blog post to more clearly express my opinion on this. So here you go.

Months ago, I wrote at length about Johnny Weir and his misguided efforts to stop any LGBTQ efforts regarding the Olympics. My opinions haven’t really changed much since then, except we are now right around the corner from the Olympics itself, so our tactics can not be the same as they could have been months ago. At that time, I believed the LGBTQ Community needed to be doing everything in its power to get the IOC to pull the games out of Russia. I was not in favor of a boycott per se of the Olympics, rather, if we could convince the IOC to move the Olympics, I believed we would send a powerful message and be b ether able to protect the security of our athletes. Opinions differed. Many said there wasn’t enough time to move the Games, and the IOC appeared to have no interest to do anything to address the concerns for safety. A boycott would hurt the athletes who had spent their lives preparing to compete, and wouldn’t really harm the Russian government. Nor would it be effective in forcing advertisers to apply pressure on the IOC. Any effort had to both protect athletes, and at the same time pressure Russia to pull back on the radical law that bans any real mention of being gay, calling it propaganda.

With about a month to go to the start of the Games, little has happened that will make things safer for athletes, and nothing has happened to help the plight of LGBTQ persons in Russia. The Olympics is, first and foremost, all about advertising and television market share, so in one regard this isn’t surprising. Several positive developments have occurred. Many important countries will not b e sending Heads of State, ad many out-of-the-closet athletes will be there both as athletes and official delegations. This isn’t everything, but still very important.

In the bigger scheme of things, how the world responds to the anti-LGBT efforts of Russia is important, but the Olympics in and of themselves can not be the sole determinant in what happens for the Russian people. If were are there or we are not, will not really b e the deciding factor if that country will continue to move ahead or further behind when to comes to human rights abuses. But it can be a major push to inject more dialogue and real information into the public sphere, which could ultimately help the Russian LGBTQ people.

Personally, I don’t support a boycott of the games nor do I advocate for promoting people to not watch the games. Neither really harm the Russian Government nor the advertisers set to rake in the big bucks from the Olympics. And, neither action will help keep our athletes safer. I have no intentions of watching the games, and I encourage everyone to make their own choices about watching. I just don’t however, want to feed into the fallacy that if we all fail to watch, it is somehow a “win” for the LGBTQ community. It isn’t. There is no strategy that creates a win for the LGBTQ Community, and especially not for the Russian LGBTQ community.sochi olympics

Between now and the start of the games, the best we can do is let the IOC know that they will be held responsible for the health and well being of every athlete and spectator, straight, gay, bi, or unknown. We can also celebrate every athlete, regardless of sport or location, who comes out, as this sends a very powerful message that integrity is far more valuable that profits by a few large corporations.

How do you feel ab out this? Leave your comments.


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