When the International Olympic Committee declared Russia would host the 2014 Olympic Games, the country’s government hadn’t yet passed their current series of discriminatory laws against gay citizens.
Now that Russia has, and the games are still set to take place in Sochi, many members of the LGBT community are skeptical of the decision, especially because it’s been made clear that Russia is determined to enforce the legislation.
Yes, this is a sad situation. Russia and countries like it are far behind the times, and once new government takes over, the situation will probably calm down significantly.
But let’s talk about right now. The Olympics are a global event where countries compete for medals and bragging rights. What we need to keep in mind is at the end of the day, the Olympics are games and should be treated as such. They are not the place to pitch one’s agenda, pro or anti opinion notwithstanding.
I’m a member of the LGBT community and have been since birth. I’m proud to be a part of it, but our community’s biggest problem is that we demand the world to change immediately. The Olympics are not about us; they’re about the athletes who’ve spent every day since they were ten years old for the opportunity to compete in these games. If they want to take their time to promote homosexual equality, then good for them, but it should not be an expectation, especially when the games are held in such hostile territory.
Russia is a scary place to be gay, so for Americans to begin pushing the equality agenda doesn’t inspire change; it provokes the government and puts the lives of the locals at risk. Russia has shown they don’t take kindly to other countries not agreeing with them, but our actions while in the country affect more than just the athletes who advocate said opinions.
Furthermore, Russia won’t be rebuilt in a day. There are many platforms where the American LGBT community could broadcast their discontent with Russia. There are also more channels far more appropriate for sharing these opinions than using a globally-unifying and friendly competition to point fingers at the hosting country and decry it as the evil empire. To do so would be an ineffective display of posturing and do nothing but distance us from the ultimate goal.
Most importantly, we should also remember the United States isn’t responsible to bring about world peace. We don’t have full equality in our own country yet, so let’s clean our own house before criticizing the dirt in someone else’s. So when you watch the Olympics, I implore you to watch it for what it really is: a series of games and nothing more.