Johnny’s World: The Gaylympics: Part 2

August 1, 2013 9:47 AM16 comments

jworldIt has been a week since my strongly worded piece on why we shouldn’t boycott the upcoming Olympic Games because of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws went viral. It has been a week for me to get a sense of the current feelings and situations of my fans and the American public at large. I give this week’s column nearly the same title as last week’s because I am required to keep my articles under 700 words and there is so much left to say on the subject.

As a gay person, it has been very encouraging to see how quickly the American people have gone up in arms about fully supporting the LGBT community of my beloved Russia and boycotting Russian products, industry and the Olympics. Just a short time ago, this country was in a stranglehold of even being able to acknowledge gay rights to wed and be equal representatives of this country and now we are uniting and fighting a good fight.

Given my opinions of going on with the Olympics and allowing all our athletes to shine and show how strong “corrupt, Godless Westerners” can be, right on the Russian government’s doorstep, and allow our LGBT athletes to win medals and shine with the world watching and create a positive feeling towards the LGBT community, I have received many positive reactions, even from Russian LGBT community members, but I received a lot of hatred from all directions and I’d like to take a moment to clear some things up.

It has been brought to my attention that I value gold medals and dazzling performances more than human rights and lives and even that I don’t understand what human rights violations mean. For the record, there is no medal or performance that is worth a life. My stance is simply that a strong pro-LGBT presence in Sochi will only help to show how backward and out of touch the Russian government’s laws are. Let the world focus on the LGBT struggles in Russia as international outrage, attention and pressure will only help the community to persevere and make right the wrongs that have been displayed to them. As far as not understanding human rights violations, I have been an American citizen since 1984 and until only recently was I granted the ability, in certain states, to live equally to other “normal” folks.

In addition to whatever craziness was thrown at me by nameless people hiding behind avatars online, it has been said that I am pushing for our athletes to compete in Sochi for completely selfish reasons. While the opportunity to compete in another Olympics is self satisfying, I was also thinking of the rest of the US team and their struggles and years of dedication to lose the opportunity of a lifetime when throughout history, sporting boycotts accomplish very little politically. A much stronger statement is to represent a country who does back the LGBT community, and represent them well. I must also note, that despite some posters opinions, I currently do not have a sponsor and should I qualify for the Olympics in Sochi, I will not earn one dollar for my efforts. I would compete in Sochi as a representative of the United States and to support my community despite my somewhat puritanical feelings that sporting events are not political events.

With those things cleared up on my end, I must say that I still do not favor a boycott. I think of course of the athletes and their years of dedication and sacrifice, but moreover I think of Russia’s government and their new laws of anti-gay propaganda, which could mean anything from Elton John’s costumes to looking at another man as you walk down the street. I think of the thousands, if not millions, of Russians this will affect. I think of Nazi Germany and her hatred of the Jews and how, if we are not vigilant and careful, another Holocaust could be imminent. Boycotting Russia may seem like the best way to help, but I firmly believe that boycotting would also lead us to boycott the people we are trying to protect. I believe that should our presence not be felt in Russia, which is still a difficult place for Americans to travel to and understand without Sputnik and Communism immediately coming to mind, it will anger the Russian government that their $50 billion spectacle of an Olympics was ruined and they’ll immediately turn fury on those who seemingly caused the humiliation, those we tried to protect.

Aside from our presence being a positive thing for the LGBT community in Russia, and possibly helping to open the eyes of Russia’s lawmakers, the attention that will be placed on these issues will be priceless. Russia, aside from funny videos of snow gymnasts on Tosh.O or Edward Snowden or Russia backing China, receives relatively little airtime in this country. The Olympics will be 14 days of direct reporting, from the source, and shedding light not only on the best athletes in the world, but also the many ways in which we can help our fellow man in a repressive nation.

As of writing this column, I have to add that I’ve nothing but respect for both sides of this debate. Should we or shouldn’t we? There are valid arguments from both camps, and many from far more experienced legalists than myself, but something that I am unwavering on is my support of my fellow man. Black, white, gay or straight, we all need to do our best to help. We all need to be selfless and help those less fortunate than we are. Unfortunately my column last week didn’t directly echo my sentiment from just the previous week, but I would like to remind all those who are following my opinion on this story, I will proudly go to Russia and be myself and should I be arrested, I won’t cry, I will stand as strong as I possibly can to show that we are equal and normal in every sense of the word. I want to state that these are not empty promises or claims from an unknowing man as I have traveled to Russia for many years and become the biggest Russophile I know of and constantly look forward to ways I can be a help to my fans.

I have been invited to perform in Saint Petersburg, Russia, birthplace of the anti-gay propaganda movement, and with luck on my side, I will be there come October.  I am far too passionate about supporting the community on the ground rather than to watch from the sidelines and do nothing aside from drinking Swedish or Polish vodka instead of Russian.  I will perform in a country who’s government would prefer having me in prison than entertaining her population, because I support the population and not the government.  Should anything happen to me, please notify my mother and my husband.

  • MeredithMiner

    I’m proud of you. I stand behind your decisions. You’re brave and beautiful in so many ways. That being said, I’m terrified for you and other LGB’s to even attempt to enter Russia.
    I will not boycott any Russian products as boycotts, in history, really do nothing more than hurt hard working people, not governments.
    I have no distinct opinion because it seems that no matter the outcome, you cannot un-ring a bell. Russian’s leaders have already done the damage and it will not and has not set well with the rest of the world for the most part.
    I fear for another generation of genocide, this time not Germany, but Russia. It makes me sad and angry that the world’s leaders have not learned anything from the past events in history.
    I love you, please be careful as I know you will be, but it doesn’t stop the worry of mothers, husband’s, wives and friends. You, your husband and all people affected by this monumental atrocity of a government are in my thoughts, trying to send positive energy instead of dwelling and giving energy to the bad.

  • http://msannomalley.com/ Kathy Kramer

    Very well stated. I’m a straight ally and I would rather stand up and stand my ground for my LGBT friends than to say that I’m not coming over to play and I won’t be bringing my toys, either. Honestly, I don’t know that the Russians would actually arrest LGBT athletes when the eyes of the world are upon them and hundreds of thousands members of the press are there, because it’s just too big for the Russian government to try and control. Plus I saw on the news last night that many Russians are very unhappy with Putin, too. They have a very fine line they have to walk when the whole world is watching. I get the sense that while Putin loves publicity, he’s not a big fan of anything bad that is said about him.

    If that doesn’t work, then perhaps Chris Kluwe could write a very strongly worded letter to that Russian lawmaker who thinks that LGBT athletes should be arrested.

    Anyway, if you do make it to the Olympics next year, I wish you all the luck in the world. I’ve always enjoyed watching you skate because you’re not like everyone else. Skating needs more people like you who aren’t afraid to be themselves and shake things up, even if the federation hates it. People like you are the ones who keep the sport fun to watch. :)

  • Debbie

    I absolutely could not agree with you more.

  • Robertangelo Coppola

    I hope you do go to Russia and stand up against Gay Oppression….I saw the violence against Gays in Russia it was brutal…I hope you don’t experience that but if you do you will feel strong empathy and understanding for people who have. Boycotting Russia.. Russian products and the Olympics is a MUST! End of story if you don’t support the boycott shame on you. We cannot stand by an do nothing. I will not watch or support the Games. Its Nazi Germany all over again. Yes we can not let another Holocaust happen. I believe in the dignity of the Gay Community. Oppressed people MUST use every means possible to oppose their enemy. Words help and awareness but ACTIONS in the monetary sense is the BEST result. It has worked in the past it still works today….Be part of the solution….Don’t be passive ….Sports over people’s rights….really? Never again….never again…

    • Nikolay Uspenskiy

      What is the number one Russian product? If you think matreshkas and vodka, you’re gravely mistaken. Boycott what can really hurt Russian government.
      I stand with Johnny on the idea that going to Sochi and openly and loudly speaking up about LGBT issues and (in the case of him and other LGBT athletes) being open and proud of who you are is a much better way of defying Russian government and showing support for the Russian LGBT community (especially teens who desperately need role models and positive image of surviving in this hostile world).

  • Judith Laister

    I have a dream, or some kind of vision: (At least) half of the athletes carrying rainbow flags in the opening ceremony. That would be a nice “in your face bitch (Putin)”

  • Lady Lisa

    Well, like I said last week, I believe when an athlete proves themselves worthy, they then have the RIGHT to their EARNED opportunity to compete at the Olympics.
    It turns my stomach to see how many people thought Johnny was only selfishly thinking of himself about competing in Sochi, because I’ve never seen another athlete like Johnny who so constantly congratulates and cheers on his fellow team members and others via twitter, etc. And I so agree that the Russian government’s laws are ‘out of touch’ and how important it is to have a strong LGBT presence in Sochi. I believe a boycott would only distort U.S. – Russian relations further and further isolate the LGBT community in Russia. And I believe Johnny is a strong pillar to this end, and his particular presence in Russia would give so much strengh and hope and POWER to the Russian people who are being so marginalized by their own government. I believe Johnny is an icon not just because of his beautiful, intricate skating, but equally because he is ‘in touch’ with his fans and fellow man, and his efforts to help others are so many. I have always admired how he does things on his own terms, and I truly hope he gets his earned chance to compete in his sport that is his life’s work, and be the permanent rock of support that he is to the Russian people, when they need him most.

    p.s. hope you got your S.bucks card! 29 Yay!

  • Stephen

    Johnny. You need to be aware of this article that came out today. Here’s the headline:

    “Russia Sports Minister: Gay Sochi athletes can be arrested”

    “The International Olympic Committee’s promise from Russia appears to be a shambles. Russia will arrest LGBT athletes at Sochi 2014″

    http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/russia-sports-minister-gay-sochi-athletes-will-be-arrested010813

    Please stay safe Johnny. :)

    • Nikolay Uspenskiy

      they wouldn’t dare do anything grave to an athlete during Olympics. maybe held in jail for a week, then the case is mysteriously thrown out of the court because of lack of evidence or “police failed to submit a case for prosecution”.. they will not use more than scare tactics when the world media is watching every move. however, as a public official, no one could claim that “law would not be enforced”. just like Putin said about NSA scandal that _in Russia_ KGB can monitor your phone calls & internet only after a court order, which is red herring

      • Lady Lisa

        I agree with what you’re saying that “they will not use more than scare tactics when the world media is watching every move”. Although Mother Russia is stubborn, she is not stupid. Of course, anything can happen, but with the whole world watching, to arrest gay athletes would be to stain Olympic history forever, and they would probably never get to host the Olympics again. It’s amazing how Johnny just goes up to bat for the people he believes in, even when there’s always a chance he could suffer severely for it. I think Johnny will go down in history not just for being an amazing Olympic skater but also for being a real world peace humanitarian.

  • CloudyTheScribbler

    one issue not mentioned in what I have seen here (tho I haven’t read thru everything) is that boycotting the Russian Olympics inevitably mixes with a lot of other politics that is much less savory than protecting LGBT rights — from reports today about boycotting the summit over opposition to temporary asylum for Edward Snowden, to the Magnitsky Laws (he was mistreated but these policies are almost calculated by political forces in the US who want to stir up tension) and support for US military intervention in Syria. Better to control the message of LGBT rights and make a statement through fora where it can be properly focused, including the UN and the European Parliament (which understandably may be viewed as less anti-Russian partisan then US policy), and more effective. Boycotts of whole countries, like boycotts of whole states (remember the boycott of Arizona? then there were a slew of states with legislation just as bad; now there are other whole states that people want to boycott over issues ranging from choice to stand your ground laws — you could easily end up with a wide-ranging boycott of too many targets. Protest should be made internationally, but calculated NOT to shoot ourselves in the foot tactically

  • Robertangelo Coppola

    Please understand my point. I hope Johnny goes to Russia and is in their face.I adore Johnny Weir he has always been my hero the face of Gay youth fighting against homophobia. The government is openly stating they will detain anyone who is openly Gay athletes and all.Where I disagree is with Boycotts. Boycott’s do work. Its a fact Money talks.Opposing Gay Oppression by any means is a must. Even if some hard working people as you say suffer the consequences. That’s a very poor excuse to justify hatred. Remember India opposing England burning their clothes and making their own…. English workers suffered. The Gay community has done this before in the US and other countries. We can not be passive. Also this is not just a government problem. There are people in Russia not all people but many who feel they are against the Gay Community. Its homophobia wrapped in Religion. Many are Nazi skin Heads who are very violent. This is going on in Hungary and now Russia. Sports above Human rights really? Tell that to Gays like myself who have experienced brutality because of being Gay. I see shades of 1936 Olympics with Hitler at the wheel…If you don’t your blind..I say Never Again…Support the Gay Community and be part of the solution.

    • Beatrix Zenk

      He supports the Gay community with all his heart. He just will chose a different path doing it than you would do. Please respect that as Johnny respects your POV.

  • IcyHeart

    I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I am glad you are speaking out when so few are. On the other hand, I feel like your message is being tainted by the implication of self interest, that you are using this for attention. You know as well as I do that you are not an Olympic contender. You are, however, an entertainer who makes a living using Olympic skater as your brand. So, getting yourself in the news in connection with the Olympics, identifying yourself as a possible participant in the next Olympics, benefits your new “career.” Because it is based on a lie, that seems like a conflict of interest and somewhat exploitive. Okay, more than somewhat.

    • IcyHeart

      And good for you going to the October show. Just stop pretending you might be on the Olympic team, okay? It diminishes your integrity.

  • Merv99

    I welcome your somewhat stronger statement. Frankly, your statement from a few months ago urging gay athletes to tone it down and not have sex in the metro station was insulting and trivialized the very real human rights abuses committed against gay people in Russia.

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