Canadian alpine skier Mike Janyk and snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll, who were on the Canadian Olympic team in 2006 and 2010 will march in this weekend's Vancouver Pride Parade to make a statement of solidarity with the LGBT community against Russia's anti-gay laws, Reuters reports:
"Seeing what's going on in Russia it does feel really cool to at least stand up and hopefully have a few people take notice of that," Janyk told Reuters. "The opportunity came up to go in the Pride parade as an Olympian and I thought, oh that's a great idea and then all this other stuff came up and it is even more important now."
Even before the Russian controversy the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) had taken steps to raise its profile among the gay/lesbian community by taking part in a number of Pride events across the country.
Canada, winner of a Winter Games record 14 gold medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, is expected to send one of its biggest-ever contingents to Sochi with the COC expressing its disappointment in the Russian anti-gay position.
"Playing sports is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation," COC spokesman Dimitri Soudas told Reuters in an email. "Since London 2012, the COC has been involved in more than 100 events, with approximately 800 Olympians.
I recently posted one of my videos on YouTube. The video features a kiss between me and a fellow male artist. As the video started becoming popular, and surprisingly inspiring to viewers, it got flagged and age restricted on YouTube while other "straight" kissing videos are not. Some of them even have titles such as "How to Kiss Dirty" and such.
I wanted to bring this to your attention in the hopes of raising the awareness to this issue with the help of Towleroad.
Adds Bitton on YouTube:
First Kiss is a 84 minute kiss video between the artists Idan Bitton and Alfredo Calle Ferran. While the camera is still, the kiss is in motion provoking the viewer to stay and watch. Idan and Alfredo do not interact with the viewer, but offer a peek into their intimate moments of commitment. This long lasting, present and unapologetic kiss defines our current gay rights momentum. We are here, we love each other, and this is what it looks like.
Watch Bitton's 90-minute kiss, AFTER THE JUMP...
84-year-old travel guide icon Arthur Frommer has written a lengthy condemnation of Russia's anti-gay laws, alerting his readers to the oppressive laws harming gay people in that country and advising travelers and the tourism industry to take "appropriate action."
Several gay authors of Frommer travel guides have already informed me that they will no longer risk travel to Russia as long as the "pro-gay propaganda" statute is in effect. Some among them are calling for a broader boycott of all travel to Russia by all Americans, gay or not, as a protest against this denial of human rights. They refer not only to the new legislation, but to several recent incidents of physical assaults by prejudiced young Russians against gay persons, none of which seemed to interest Russian police. And of course, officials and athletes preparing to participate in the winter Olympics are seriously concerned.
In the words of another Frommer author: "The new Russian law is extremely dangerous, borne of dark nationalism, and through its virulent ignorance, the stage is set for a witch hunt. History has shown only too clearly what can happen when a government provides for the systematic silencing and disenfranchisement of an unpopular minority".
I will be returning to this subject as additional facts are known about the exact position of the Russian government relating to these two new laws. Certainly, the development should cause grave concern among right-minded people interested in the protection of human rights. As most of us have concluded, prejudice against other Americans because of their sexual orientation is un-American and should be condemned. And when such prejudice prevents Americans from traveling without fear in another country, that prejudice should also be condemned, and appropriate action taken by persons in travel and tourism.
New work from the French electro house/pop producer Madeon.
Writes Madeon: "Hi everyone today I'm releasing a new song called Technicolor. I've been working on it for a while. My goal was to tell a story through dance music using a longer structure than what i've done before. Hope you like it !"
Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...
Igor Ananskikh, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Policy Committee, is contradicting recent claims by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko that athletes and visitors to the Sochi Olympics will not be given any special exemptions from the country's oppressive anti-gay laws, Interfax reports:
Russia's new law that imposes heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18 will not apply to the guests and athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Sochi, Igor Ananskikh, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Policy Committee, told Interfax on Friday.
"The Olympic Games is a major international event. We need to be as polite and tolerant as possible. That is why a decision has been made not to raise this issue during the Olympics," he said.
The Russian government's decision not to apply the requirements of this law to the event's guests and participants is "totally logical and correct," he added.
"Russia plans to host large international competitions in the future. The atmosphere at them must be as safe and polite as possible," Ananskikh said.
Regardless of Ananskikh's statements, the spotlight has now been turned on Russia's heinous human rights abuses against LGBT people and will not fade anytime before Sochi.