How do we solve a problem like Russia’s treatment of gays? The recent wave of political and physical violence against LGBT rights and people simply cannot be ignored. At a time when many other parts of the world are starting to finally embrace us fully as equal and worthy, Russia is going backwards with angry fists flying.
- Gay Pride parade banned in Russia for 100 years.Over the summer almost every attempt to hold peaceful Pride Parades or rallies have ended in violence, arrests and blood. It’s not pretty and it’s very real.
- Law against foreign LGBT couples adopting Russian children.
- Law against spreading “gay propaganda” to minors, effectively making it illegal to call same-sex and straight relationships equal.
- Anti-gay violence and attacks on the rise, including the targeting, torture and humiliation of gays online via social media.
So now the question become, how does the LGBT community and its allies best protest these atrocities? How do we get this to stop? It’s not an easy question and there are no easy answers. It will all come to a head this winter when the Olympic Games come to Sochi, Russia. LGBT athletes and spectators will show up in a country that decidedly does not want them there. And us fans at home must decide how watching them in a backdrop filled with such hate.
So far, response has been varied. Some say boycott the Sochi Olympics. Others say don’t boycott the Sochi Olympics. Some say boycott Russian vodka. Others say don’t boycott Russian vodka. And Lady Gaga tweeted. Boycotts, backlashes and Gaga, oh my.
The truth is, there’s no one right way to make change. Boycotting the Olympics hurts the athletes who train a lifetime for their chance at glory. Boycotting Stoli hurts a company that has been incredibly LGBT friendly over its history. Not boycotting either sends a message of passive acceptance. Perhaps letting the Olympics proceed, but reporting on its human rights violations is the answer. Or drinking Stoli, yet pressuring its owners to put pressure on its mother country is the answer. More likely, all kinds of combinations of all kinds of responses, while always pressing for change, is the ultimate answer. What I know is we can’t stop talking about it, we can’t stop exposing it for what it is, we can’t stop supporting the brave LGBT people and allies in Russia who are facing jail, beatings and even death fighting for their rights. So I guess the only answer that isn’t an option is to close our eyes.