It 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.