Two masters of the art come face to face and battle wits, brawn, and skill to win their meet and emerge victorious. While that could be a description of an instance at the Olympic Games, it is really an observation of the game of chicken being played out now between Russia and the International Olympic Committee. Who will blink first and cave into the other’s will?
On the one side you have the Russians with team leader Putin. Their goal is clear. They want it all. They want to oppress LGBT people into nonexistence, and have the rest of the world complacently back off as they do so. On the other side, you have the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who seem to recognize the need to protect and honor human rights, or at the very least, understand that trying to adhere to the Russian oppression over their population of outspoken athletes would be dangerous. Celebrities from Stephen Fry, to Harvey Fierstein, from Madonna to Lady Gaga—all with visibility but no power—have decried Putin and described his actions as reminiscent of an early Hitler before the world knew they had the opportunity to stop him, but didn’t.
Then, there are those who do have power. President Obama stated on the Tonight Show that he has “no patience” for Russia’s anti-gay laws. Olympic officials C. K. Wu and Richard Carrion have declared being “cross” and having “ire” toward Russia respectively. Both condemn discrimination on the part of host cities and vow to make sure that it ceases . . . sometime . . . in the future.
Despite pressure from the International Olympic Committee, Russia’s Interior Ministry has promised to enforce the law. The ministry claims that people who “do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully” are not at risk for arrest. The minister did not address the fact that the law allows the police to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian, or ‘pro-gay’ and detaining them for up to 14 days.
A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee in the meantime retreated, not to find the best solution, but to find one that could be rationalized within the Olympics Charter. “‘Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. ‘This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. ‘In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done,’” Gay Star News was told.
Did you see that? The IOC just blinked. Game over. Win for the Russian regime.
As a gay dad, I want to deal with issues that affect my sons’ world, and this one does so in a huge way. There are parents in Russia, just like me, who are having to flee their country to survive. If I did not speak up, I would be heinously remiss. Here is my open letter to the International Olympic Committee.
Dear International Olympic Committee,
First, I want to say that I appreciate your difficult position. Pulling off an event the magnitude of the Olympics is nothing short of a miracle. For it to start, continue, and end, even in a suboptimal way, is in itself an “Olympic” feat. There are more logistics, finances, and organization required than most of us can imagine, and we, the fans, are the beneficiaries of your hard work.
That said, we need to talk about one core fact. You and I are both parents. I am the fortunate father of eleven- and ten-year-old sons. You are the parent to thousands and thousands of aspiring champions. I give my sons guidance, nurturing, love, and principles, and strive to help them grow up to be the best that they can be. You do the same to the enormous population in your charge.
My sons are starting at a new school in the fall. I’m a bit nervous. They will be encountering new people, strangers. These people may not welcome who they are. They may bully them when they find out the kind of family they come from. I have decisions to make in terms of protecting my children and preparing them as to appropriate ways to react.
Your children will be starting at a new venue in February. You have more information on your situation than I do on mine. You already know that any of your children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or pro-LGBT are at risk. (That is a very, very, very big number of human beings.) A big, bad Russian bully has made it clear that he has it out for them. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
As I see it, there are three basic parenting principles in play here:
1. Don’t Run Away from Your Problems: Running away never solves the issue, and, if anything, it gives fuel to the thing wishing to do you harm. Bullies must be confronted and wrongs must be made right. Just because you find a loophole path to take does not mean you should take it. If you think there are Olympic principles worth caring about, fight for them. Otherwise, they are not worth the Hallmark cards or pop musical anthem CDs you market to publicize them.
2. Be Fair: If you are tempted to ask LGBT athletes, fans, and staff to hide who they are, to conceal their romantic and sexual identities, then do so for all. Heterosexual wedding bands and engagement rings must also be hidden from view at all times. Heterosexual hand-holding, kissing, and affection must be also categorized as propaganda and a political statement violating section 50. Any establishment in which budding heterosexual activity is encouraged must be forbidden. It is going to be a cold Saturday night in Sochi that week.
3. Above All, Keep Your Children Safe: Losing patience? Feeling cross with pangs of ire? None of those cut it when you are a parent and your children are threatened. You do not negotiate with the bully, especially when he keeps jerking you around. You do not have wiggle room when it comes to those in your care, those who have entrusted their lives to your protection and your sphere of guidance. You have a duty. You have a responsibility. You have a calling. You are a global parent on whom millions rely. Right now, you are a negligent parent, derelict in your duties. If there were a Child’s Protective Services agency big enough in this universe, I would call them on you. Unfortunately, there is not.
As a gay dad, I love my sons more than life itself. I will go to any lengths to protect them, make them proud of who they are, and encourage them live up to the principles that will give them the highest possible sense of honor. I am a mere mortal. You are named for the gods and should have infinitely more moral fortitude than I do. Start behaving like it.
In short, quit acting like the irresponsible pansy-assed victim. And move the damned games. Now.
One Gay Dad.
(On behalf of all the other parents who care about the children of the world.)
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Special thanks to Rachel Hockett for editing help on this article.
Actually I think a few countries at this point would still be able to revive the games if it were moved. Canada for example still has many facilities in place and working order from the Vancouver games, and from the Calgary games. Yes it would take a few months to prepare but the games could go on very easily.
Yes, yes, and YES again. I damn the fact that I can only “like” this once, because the whole Russia/IOC issue makes my blood boil.
Obamas’ words are shallow at best. What a hypocrite!
If you want to do something about the Russian Repression of LGBTQs, this site has links, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc. that you can contact to protest. Includes: IOC, USOC, McDonalds, Proctor and Gamble, Visa and other Olympic sponsors, US State Dept,. Russian Federation and its US embassy, NBC, etc.
As a gay man I agree with the principles of what this gay dad is saying and applauded him for speaking out! At this point it would be impossible to move the games else where. And while I agree boycotts are one way we can protest the the laws in Russia and there attitude toward LGBT peoples. But as someone stated, these athletes have worked and trained hard for this event and nothing should be done that will affect them or “punish” them and ruin what they have worked so hard for. That being said, this issue should never come up in the first place. The IOC should not accept any bids from any country that has laws that oppress their citizens and their “HUMAN RIGHTS”, period! It would be impossible for the IOC to promote a change of laws in a country or to agree with all the laws in all the countries of the world, that’s not what they are about and it is not their place to do so. What they can do is be more selective in the choosing of the cities that want the honor of hosting the Olympics. Why would you put your athletes, which are “Ambassadors of the World” and the countries they represent in any sort of danger?
To President Putin and the Russian people, it is your duty to the world to make sure their children are “Safe” and “Protected”, that responsibility comes with hosting these games! The “WORLD” is watching and is a force to be reckoned with!
I am not gay, I am a Christian and I can understand your feelings. However, I can logically see that the time and money put into getting an Olympics ready is too great to have them moved at this law date. I font, in any way, agree with the law, but I see the rock he IOC is caught under. Its not “fair”. I was also concerened about the child protection statement, not as it pertains to the Olympics, but how it pertains to the American parent. The. statement came off as saying if your child is a bully (many do not know their child’s bullying ways or have run out of ides on what to do about it) should have their child removed from the home. That is a hasty generalzation and a scary one at that. My child is not a bully, she’s only one, but I’ve felt with them my whole life, and I know the parent did not (always) deserve to lose that child because of that. I think, ad far as the Olympics go, a boycott is the only option. Please understand my belief that as a Christian I am called to LOVE my neighbor, not JUDGE my neighbor. Thank you for expressing your feelings.
I’m sorry for all the auto correcting, alas my server did not allow me to review my post.
Well, Julie, if your child is being bullied in the school, you will complain to the school. If the school principal and the school district decide not to do anything. In a matter of fact, they encourage bullying. Would you move your child away from the danger?
Could you not see it as you were typing it?
I sent Coke and Mcdonalds emails yesterday saying I will not touch any of there products till they pull sponsorship. I want the athletes to be able to compete. They work too hard to get to the olympics. The games should be moved. End of story.
This is Beautifully written, nice.
I fear for the gay parent under the new anti gay Russian legislation! The international media was so busy concentrating on the black/white issue in Apartheid South-Africa that they ceased to mention the suffering of a handful of whites. Under the Apartheid regime homo/bi sexual and men who had children out of wedlock had no right to their biological offspring. It took 19 bitter long years before I was reunited with my sons. Perhaps the IOC and the world should take note of the forgotten few, and learn something from the atrocities of Apartheid South-Africa,
with regards to Russia’s laws.
I seriously doubt that the Games will be moved, since it takes years to prepare for them – where would they go? But a boycott of the advertisers would do more to bring the point home. Money speaks, and sponsors speak loudest of all.
Although not optimal, the games could be moved to a city that had previously hosted them. I’m sure there are several who would be glad to make the hasty preparations. Better to be imperfect than to suffer our gay and gay-friendly athletes (which is MOST of them in this day and age) to be arrested.
Think of it another way, the games cannot be impartial or fair if Russia can simply arrest the gay or gay-friendly athletes. You really can’t see the opportunity for enormous misuse of that law there? Research what the law really says, because the vagueness means it applies to not only LGBT people, but those who are heterosexual allies as well. How many athletes in this day and age do you think DON’T fall into that category?
Absolutely right! unfortunately it will probably fall upon the athletes to take a stand. They have worked so hard for a chance to compete but will have to say “We won’t compete” in order to change things. Only then will the big investors back them, because without the players, there is no game. let’s face it, the IOC is weak, only the athletes have any balls
Am reposting this—Bravo
If the advertisers know they will be boycotted and pull funding…… What no one is getting here is how bad it is for Russian gay. It’s not just against the law. Bad enough. But they are actively FAG BASHED, physically abused, bullied… The list goes on. That is the initial protest! STOP the abuse. plus….. The money Russia will make with all the law suits to get “gay” Olympic visitors will be astronomical.
Would Russia have be chosen if this was public before they were (chosen)?
Are you kidding me?? Russia knows first hand the results of kicking God out of your country!! i don’t think you will be able to get them to do it again!! What you people don’t understand is that for the last 100 years God wasn’t allowed in Russia!! They know it’s a recipe for disaster!! The benefits of God being allowed America will testify against you while you create Americas disaster!! Don’t move the Olympics… Move your self
How quaint. So basically allow the belief of a god to due harm to an entire class of citizen? That’s rich and not a valid argument as to why any moral person would want a god in their country. If anything it will set a movement toward a declaration of war against your god. But since your god is not proven to exist, his followers will have to do. You sound so… ignorant. Fearful. It’s honestly sad to see in a way. But you are helping our cause by speaking so.. by all means, continue. 🙂
I have no idea what you are trying to say.
Well said Michael – in the blog entry, especially in the open letter, and in this comment.
Not sure that anyone mentioned kicking God out of Russia, just hatred. Is Putin arresting people wearing cloth made of mixed fibres? Is he arresting anyone who eats pork? Or shellfish? This is about homophobia, pure and simple. He may be using his God as an excuse for his hatred but it’s about his fear of people who are different to him. It’s about cowardice, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, ignorance and the unbelievably arrogant view that anyone with a different sexual orientation to him must be a criminal. The IOC has a chance to say they won’t subscribe to his views now just as it could have done with Hitler. It failed miserably then and it looks like it hasn’t leart a thing.
As a mother of a gay child I thank you for your words. I’ve never been opposed to LGBT people, they all bleed like me. Since finding out my child’s gay status I have become a ferocious defender of rights. I’m proud of my child no matter what. Here in Canada when someone hurts my child’s feelings (was actually told once a protesters words hurt my child down to the soul) the first thing I want to do is defend. My heart aches for all isms and yes this is a form of racism. I hope they consider your words seriously.
Start NOW! Boycott NBC, the US broadcaster and any sponsors they use! They have the power to move it, if they are going to lose the $4.3k BILLION they paid to get the broadcasting rights.
Brilliantly put. I doubt these cowards will listen though. Take care.
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