Monday, August 26, 2013

Russia's Attack On LGBTQ Rights and the Olympics, Part Two: What Can We Do? (GSA Mondays Are Back!)

Welcome back to a new school year, and our first GSA Mondays Post!

The situation in Russia is getting pretty bad for LGBTQ people, and our Allies.  The Olympics are only six months away.  Tourists are already being arrested.  What can we do?

Speak UP!
Some Athletes are.

US middle distance runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his 800-meter silver medal at the world athletics championships in August to his gay and lesbian friends back home, becoming the first athlete to openly criticize Russia's controversial anti-gay law on the country's soil.

I like how Nick said,
"I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules."

Two Athletes from Sweden, competing in Russia at the same World Athletic Championships two weeks ago, painted their nails in rainbow colors as a "silent protest" to Russia's anti-LGBTQ laws.

From a Huffington Post Article, Emma Green Tregaro, of Sweden, competes in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

From this HuffPost article, Moa Hjelmer shows off her rainbow nails

Emma Green Tregaro shared a photo of her colorful nails on Instagram on that Wednesday with the hashtag "pride."

But the pressure is on, and "...Tregaro was encouraged to change the colour of her nails because she was in breach of the Olympic rules and she could face disqualification."  The Swedish Olympic committee "has ruled that political protests against Russia’s anti-gay legislation will not be tolerated at the Sochi Olympics next year."

The next day, as NPR reported, Tregaro competed with all her nails painted red.

Getting the word out increases the international pressure on Russia, and gets people everywhere talking about LGBTQ rights.

There are petitions to sign onto, like

The petition to Visa (a major sponsor of the games.)

The All-out Campaign's petition to President Putin and Russia's leaders, that reads:

To President Putin, Russian politicians and all world leaders:

We stand with citizens across Russia who are calling on their government to stop the crackdown against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people that is fuelling anti-gay violence.

We urge leaders around the world and within Russia to work to eliminate all anti-gay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia.
And the petition to the International Olympic Committee to move the Olympics out of Russia entirely.


Adults are boycotting Russian vodka, but what about those of us who don't drink?  What about teenagers?  What are our options?  What can your GSA do?

Should we not watch the Olympics?

Michelangelo Signoreli's article "Boycott the Olympics? Russian Vodka? NBC? Maybe -- Here Are 5 Other Ripe Targets" gives some interesting facts:

Procter & Gamble is the biggest advertiser on Russian T.V.

Hotel Chains - many of them U.S. companies - are investing and further expanding into Russia. Including Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental, Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton and Sheraton...  As Michelangelo asks,

"Do these companies really want to be associated with a government that may snatch babies from their mothers' arms or, under the "gay propaganda" ban, will jail anyone, including gay foreigners staying at these hotels, for waving a rainbow flag?"

As Michelangelo says,

These are just a few of what are surely many more American interests, including many companies that enjoy high ratings on HRC's CEI [Corporate Equality Index] and consider themselves pro-gay. As Russia moves in a very dark direction, a line must be drawn in the sand. American companies and politicians who court LGBT people are going to have stand against this brutal regime in no uncertain terms. And it must be expressed in actions, not just words.

Celebrate Queer Russia

Celebrating LGBTQ Russians is a direction to go as well.  If we make a big deal out of the LGBTQ Russians in history and culture, then Russia can't pretend like they don't have lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people there.  And maybe that will help on the road to getting Russia's Queer community out of the drink and back on the road to equality.

We can read and share this excellent Advocate article on the gay Russian writer Mikhail Kuzmin.

Explore the poetry of Russian lesbian Sophia Yakovlevna Parnok and bi Russian Marina Tsvetaeva, who at one point were in love with each other,

Watch a film directed by gay Russian Sergei Eisenstein.

And maybe even play some Tchaikovsky.  After all, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the gay Russian who composed the 1812 Overture.  The Nutcracker.  And Swan Lake.

These are just some ideas.  Raise awareness about what's going on. Speak Up. Boycott. And Celebrate Queer Russia.  

Talk about it with your friends, discuss in your GSAs and share the ideas and suggestions you come up with in comments!



ivanova said...

Thanks for this! This gives me a focus for my feelings about the situation in Russia. And I'm always happy to continue boycotting Proctor & Gamble and Marriott.

Jane Yolen said...

I like your suggestions, Lee. Am putting them on my FB page.