Today is the final day of the Sochi Olympic games and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that hosting the games in homophobic Russia has been a blessing in disguise for the gay community.
Gay rights have been consistently discussed during the Olympic Games. Air time has been provided to discuss Russia’s discriminatory legislation in a way I’ve rarely seen in the US; we tend to only report on what happens here at home, forgetting there is a world beyond our borders.
While these protests may have fallen on deaf ears in Russia, the conversation has taken on new meaning here in the US. I can’t help but wonder was Michael Sam’s historic announcement days after the Opening Ceremony at Sochi intentional? It seems to have added fuel here in the US to fighting homophobia in sport; against the backdrop of the Sochi Olympics the conversation seemed all the more poignant.
Homophobia thrives when it is unchallenged. The 1980s gay activist group ACT UP had it right; Silence = Death. Although they were fighting for more AIDS funding and helping those dying from AIDS to live their final days with dignity, the mantra remains true so I hope the dialog started and scrutiny focused on Russia continues after the Olympic torch goes out in Sochi.