@stephenfry Is A Brilliant Man Who Is Totally WRONG About The Russian Olympics
In his open letter to Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and the Members of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Fry called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games. He’s totally wrong. Here’s why.
Let’s be frank about Russia’s LGBTQ policies. They are bizarre and draconian and one of the very few subjects that honestly evoke an accurate comparison to Nazism. Every part of these laws is horrible. It is now, even illegal to tell Russian children that homosexuals exist.
I can’t speak for the LGBTQ people in the UK, but personally, I think a boycott is not only childish but does exactly what the Russian government wants it to do. It allows Russia to pretend that the LGBTQ community and the nations in which we are free do not exist. A boycott isn’t a stand against evil. it is the opposite. It is, literally, a government mandate that good men sit by and do nothing while Russia does every single thing they can think of to try to make the world forget that they hate anyone gay, or who is an ally or who acknowledges that the LGBTQ community exists.
Russia wants us to be quiet. Where is the logic in actively agreeing to do that? And why, given the total lack of impact the last Western boycott of a Russian Olympic Games, is anyone convinced that Russia will care in the least that their games are missing some athletes?
Does anyone think that the Russian government lamented the loss of American competitors in 1980? Is anyone under the delusion that Russian school children are taught about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, games?
No. They’re taught about the return of Nadia Comăneci to the Olympic podium, just like American school children are taught that Mary Lou Retton was the first woman from outside the Soviet Bloc nations to win the Olympic gold medal in the Gymnastic Individual All-around competition, while history forgets to mention that the Soviet Bloc nations weren’t there.
A boycott is big news in the nations that are engaging in it and they are generally ignored by those people against whom it is engineered.
Boycotting the Sochi Olympics is the wrong answer, not only that, it is a short sighted response that does not appear to involve much regard for the actual people who would be most impacted by a boycott.
Who are those people? The athletes.
These people dedicate their entire lives to competing at the Olympics and they do so with the understanding that they will represent their nation. You know what? This nation legally recognizes the rights and humanity of the LGBTQ community. These athletes, both British and American, are representing us. A lot of us are gay. A lot of the athletes are gay. A boycott would rob from them, the opportunity to not only reach the competition to which they have dedicated so much of their lives, it would rob us, the spectators, supporters and more importantly, the LGBTQ communities of Western nations of the possibility of a moment like this.
Or at least one like this
Look, I get where Fry and a not small number of other people are coming from. He lays it out beautifully and in an emotionally affecting, if not entirely rational fashion,
I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.
I’m gay too. My family is Jewish. My grandparents had family members who disappeared under the weight of a yellow star. In their name and in the names of the ay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, I want them to have this moment. I want the whole world to see Russia honor an openly gay athlete or an ally who flies a rainbow flag.
I’m not willing to go quietly into that good night while people suffer. I’m not willing to be shunted off into the background via a boycott. Given Mr. Fry’s demonstrated understanding of history, I would hope he would think again before arguing for diplomatic appeasement.
I want my Jesse Owens. At the very least I want my Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman. I want Russia to welcome the world, the whole world, every glittery, rainbow, queer representative of it, to Sochi.
I want them to welcome us and watch us win and then watch us claim the victories while we do the one thing that terrifies them; openly exist.
I want the members of my community to be seen. If we aren’t there, that is not possible.