A couple of weeks ago, when all this IOC/Russian Gay Ban controversy came into light. I thought, “What to do?” You can’t cancel the Olympics, yet at the same time Russia should certainly be reprimanded. It certainly didn’t help that the IOC was backing Russia’s decision, possibly disqualifying anyone with “gay propaganda”. God forbid an athlete just wants to show their passion for the Wizard of Oz.
Then it started…article after article of anger, people started advocating to either boycott the Olympics, move them or cancel them all together.
I don’t really know how one would boycott the Olympics. One, meaning everyone. That would really only include the athletes and the people going to the events. Which isn’t an action most normal citizens could do. You could try not watching it, but what would be the point? Unless you have one those Nielsen boxes on your TV (which I’ve never heard anyone having) who cares? Watch away. No one would know the difference. (except of course clicks online, etc.)
Then there’s the question of moving or canceling the Olympics. It became clear this would not/will not happen after the IOC’s very public decision to uphold Russia’s stance.
So back to boycotting. This is where I had a real issue. I thought about the athletes. They’ve worked their whole lives for this moment. Why should they give that all up? This is their dream. This is everything. Can we ask them to give that all up? For weeks I struggled with this.
Then it hit me. On my Facebook someone posted about another gay bashing in New York City. I quickly skimmed the story. It was a gay couple walking in Chelsea, an area known for being gay-friendly, who were randomly attacked by five strangers. For no reason, other than being gay. The couple is fine, physically. But that’s not what swayed me. At the end of the article it said:
“The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating”
We in the US. Have such a Task Force.
Russia has no such thing. In fact I’m sure if I looked into it, Russia has a force against Gays entirely. A “Gay Crimes Task Force” maybe?
It was this moment, everything changed. I almost felt stupid for questioning it at all.
These athletes who chose the life of ..well an athlete…have dedicated their lives to what they LOVE. They love it SO much they get to do it everyday. Proudly. No one questions them, no one ever asks, “why were you practicing so late.” In fact, they’re pushed to do it, they’re cheered on when they do it. Sometimes they might get yelled at for missing a move, or not working hard enough. But they get to do what they LOVE.
Remember one of your first dates. You’re sitting in the movie theater next to someone you really like. Every body part is shaking. You’re about to explode, break into a huge smile. But somehow you keep it all together. You sit down next to each other. Noticing he’s put his Coke in between you two. “Why did he do that??” You think. Then halfway through the movie he moves it.
All you can think now is “Should I make a move?…no too soon.
Then it happens.
He brushes your leg with his hand just ever so slightly. You feel like a billion butterflies are about to shoot out of your body. So then you do the same. When he doesn’t move his leg. You go a little further. Then more. Until your hand is fully on his leg. Finally, after waiting 20 unbearable seconds. It happens. You feel his hand on yours. You could DIE of happiness right now.
You remember that time right? Joy.
For many in Russia that moment can put you in jail.
There are thousands and thousands of boys and men, girls and women in Russia right now, living a grey life. A life of routine. A life they didn’t choose. They may enjoy good food every once in a while, they may enjoy laughing with their family, some themselves may be athletes. They do this every day under a cloak. Almost gagged of their full selves. When they laugh it’s not all their laughter, when they smile it’s not their full smile, when they shine only a part of them is lit up.
No, being gay isn’t just about that moment in the theater. It’s not even just about sex. It really and truly is a lifestyle. My brother when he hears a song with his friends he goes “Man I love this song”. When I hear a song I love with my friends, it’s most likely we ALL love it and start doing some kind of choreography to it. That’s just who we are. We love to express ourselves.
For many in Russia. They can’t. They cannot fully express themselves. They cannot wake up everyday doing what they love. They cannot come home and be cheered for being them.
I tried not to do bring the holocaust into this. I feel this is far from that. But in a way it’s not. Though many aren’t being round-up to be killed. Many are forced not to be themselves. And even more so, be ashamed of themselves. In a way it’s a different kind of genocide. It’s a genocide of hope.
So I ask every gay and pro gay athlete this:
Work your asses off. Keep training. Do what you love. Go to the Olympics. LIVE. Then when it’s time to march out of that tunnel…
BE AS GAY AS POSSIBLE
WEAR ANY AND ALL RAINBOW SHIT YOU CAN FIND.
THROW AS MUCH GLITTER AS YOU CAN BUY
AND MAKE-OUT WITH ANY SAME SEX PERSON NEAR YOU
Because perhaps, maybe, this is a moment not for you. You’ve had your time to fully shine every day, every four years. I just ask for just one time, we let every gay boy, girl, man, woman in Russia shine. Shine fully and brightly. Where instead of feeling alone and rejected they can for one time…just once…look at the TV and say “someone loves me and I’m not alone”.
Can you imagine the message this would send the world? Forget about breaking skating speed records, this would be a moment remembered forever. I’m not talking about just gay rights, I’m talk about rights in general. RIghts to be free. Rights to love free. To dance free. To hold hands free. To get your leg brushed by someone else free.
It would be a moment that would be stronger then ANY nuclear bomb ever could be.
The Opening Olympic Ceremonies, one of the most WATCHED events ever throughout the world, with one message:
IT’S OKAY TO BE YOU.
Because to every athlete out there who is working out every day. You are free to look in the mirror and say that to yourself. While some hide in their cloak. Waiting for approval.
On February 7th 2014, just days shy of Valentines Day, lets give Gay, Lesbian, BI, Transgender Russians, lets give the World their approval…and most of all LOVE.
-Aaron Smallets (Smurph)