- Tom- Tom
The Federation of Gay Games, for whom I am an Ambassador, recently asked me to make suggestions for a response to the insane crack down on the LGBT community in Russia. Many eloquent voices have arisen suggesting everything from a boycott of Russian Vodka (Dan Savage) to a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (Harvey Fierstein) to Tilda Swinton who posted a photograph of herself holding the rainbow flag in front of the Kremlin, an act that could get her 15 days and jail and then deported. The question put to me was what might be effective action for us to take. And that is a question I put to us all.
First, in an ideal world filled with brave souls, every Olympic athlete from every country in the world would refuse to participate in these games and all businesses that support and profit from the Olympics would join the boycott . Does Putin understand the world’s revulsion to his homophobia? Likely not. His shirtless macho posturing over the years suggests a deeply insecure little man who is at his core a classic psychopathic bully hiding a deep inner conflict. In Putin’s Russia you can’t even suggest that a gay person is a natural part of humanity. He spearheads a hate so vicious that gay people are at risk for their very lives in a land where thugs, like the Nazi Brownshirts before them, have been unleashed to rid the country of queers. Putin claims these laws are needed to protect children. But it is our gay children who are bloodied on the streets as police look the other way.
Harvey Fierstein is spot on equating Putin with the Nazis who pinned the pink triangle on gay people and sent them to be exterminated. And this is why I make the suggestion that we make that pink triangle stand for solidarity and invite every athlete and spectator to wave it on flags and wear it in Russia.
We need to cause an international embarrassment for Putin. If thousands wear and fly the pink triangle, what can Putin do? Arrest and deport them all? Can you imagine pink triangles on the bottom of skis flying off the ski jumps? Medal winners raising the pink triangle on the podiums? It could happen.
Putin’s law makes it a crime to dress or appear gay in public. (Beware, figure skaters.) I recommend proposing to shoe and sportswear manufactures – start with the ones who sponsor the games – to give every Olympic athlete gear with great big pink triangles on them. Another idea – distribute pink triangle flags to line the Olympic Torch parade route in every country through which it passes and flood Russia with the flags. Another idea – pins are hugely popular as trade among athletes and spectators. We can give athletes thousands of Pink Triangle pins to hand out. This is, as Obama might say, a teachable moment. Be creative.
We want to do be smart. Stolichnaya is a gay friendly company that openly opposes Putin’s anti gay pogrom. So boycotting Russian Vodka misses the target. Putin and his thugs need to be challenged with statements and actions that spotlight their crimes against humanity. I want to see the athletes march into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony in bravely worn defiant pink shoes.