Queer Nation Disrupts Brian Boitano Appearance, Demands Skater Speak Out Against Russia

The activist group Queer Nation reports, via press release, that it disrupted an appearance by figure skater Brian Boitano last night. Boitano recently dame out of the closet after being selected by President Obama as part of the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

BoitanoQueer Nation writes:

Two members of Queer Nation confronted three-time Olympian Brian Boitano tonight, demanding he speak out against Russia’s recently enacted anti-LGBT laws when he represents the U.S. at the Olympics next month.

Boitano, who is one of three openly gay men and women chosen by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Olympic delegation, was appearing at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea as part of “Brainwave: Mind Over Matter,” an ongoing series that pairs men and women prominent in their various professions with psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists to discuss how the mind and brain work.

During his introduction of Boitano, Tim McHenry, the Rubin’s director of public programs and performance, spoke with admiration about how Brian Boitano had become “a courageous champion of human rights and artists.”

"When did he do that and what is it that he said?" shouted Duncan Osborne, one of the protesters. "He's going to a country with a record of abusing human rights, especially the rights of gay men and women, and he has yet to speak out about it,” Osborne continued.

Boitano has as yet said nothing against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, instead insisting that athletes and spectators respect the laws of the country they will be visiting. Tennis great Billie Jean King, who has also been chosen to represent the U.S. in Sochi, has been somewhat vocal about her disapproval of the Russian laws.

“Stand up and tell us what you are going to do what are you going to say in Russia,” yelled Jamie Bauer,” the other protester from Queer Nation. Boitano remained seated and silent and refused to acknowledge the protesters.

“Two members of Pussy Riot were imprisoned for protesting their government’s human rights record, and when they were granted amnesty ahead of the Olympics promptly denounced the amnesty and organized a protest,” said Bauer after the protest. “We haven't seen nearly that kind of courage from Brian Boitano, who has much less to risk.”

The audience was uniformly hostile to the protesters, and many booed. Two audience members attempted to remove Osborne but backed away when he threatened to have them arrested. The two Queer Nationals were eventually led peacefully out of the room by security guards.

“You’re a coward,” Osborne yelled repeatedly as he was escorted away.

No pictures or footage of the confrontation have surfaced yet.


  1. says

    Sometimes actions speak louder than words and that is what Brian is doing. Not everyone is/can/or should be like QN. Revolution takes many strategies. Brian is not Russian like PR and simply by being an out gay man he is putting himself at risk going to Russia and he has only been publicly out for a few months – this is a huge action. As for comparing him to Billy – how unfair, she has been out and fighting since 1981 and before that was a Woman’s Right’s activist and created the Women’s Tennis Association. QN does a lot of good but this was a mistake.

  2. MaryM says

    Brian Boitano has confirmed that he will say or do nothing to protest Russian fascism.

    Therefore he is a collaborator with fascism.

    He is a legitimate target of protest in the same manner that Johnny Weir is.

    Billie Jean King is behaving in a slightly better but still pretty dismal manner.

    Do these morons not understand that their presence in fascist Russia is utterly meaningless unless they use their platform to denounce the fascism and upcoming genocide of LGBT Russians.

  3. parkrunner says

    I love it! Using bully tactics to shame a gay guy! Where did QN get the idea to do that? If it weren’t for their press release we wouldn’t know the names of those two men and their wonderful display of bravery. “Unhand me or I’ll have you arrested”! I love it!

  4. Hrm says

    You lost me at “Queer Nation Demands.” Sorry, but they are welcome to go train, become world class athletes, and then do it themselves. The same goes for all the other whiners who wants to complain that someone else won’t carry your water for you. No one is stopping you from getting a passport and doing you own work.

  5. MaryM says

    Brian Boitano is a not a competitor at these Games.

    He is member of the US delegation to the Sochi Olympics.

    And despite the fact that he is gay and despite the fact that the Russian gay community could be facing genocide in fascist Russia he chooses to stay silent.

    He really is a snivelling pathetic human being.

  6. Ian says

    Agree with HRM. Want to make a change in the world? Do it yourself, utilize your own passion and energy to go to Russia to join the fight. Sitting in a free country bitching that not enough I’d being done is akin to screaming at he servants. Pathetic.

  7. JohnAGJ says

    Seems like the real “coward” here is Osbourne who plays the Tough Guy in the States but isn’t in Russia himself doing exactly what he demands of Boitano. Go away little man…

  8. Ken says

    Uh–Boitano was hand picked by the United States government to be an ambassador. He’s being taken over there solely because he fits the criteria of a gay Olympian. In fact, he was told to make it clear that he’s gay once he was chosen by TPTB. He is an AMBASSADOR. AMBASSADORS speak. Queer Nation members are being vocal, taking risks and speaking. It’s hilarious and slightly pathetic for arm chair commentators to call them out while doing…what?

  9. MaryM says

    ‘Do it yourself’.

    Well why is Brian Boitano refusing point blank to use his unique platform to raise hell about the potential genocide his own community is facing in fascist Russia.

    I do expect that some QN members will be at Russia, but Brian Boitano has a far bigger profile, influence and access to the media.

    Yet he chooses to stay silent and collaborate with Russian fascism.

    That is truly weak and pathetic. Next he’ll be telling us that the ability for an athlete to win a medal trumps the human rights of millions.

    Oh wait… He’s already done that of course.

  10. MaryM says

    Not that Rob:

    Do you condemn Brian Boitano for collaborating with Russian fascism. He is free to speak out free from consequence – he faces absolutely no repercussions for condemning Russian fascism but he point blank refuses to do so.

    He is a pathetic, weak, snivelling Uncle Tom.

  11. Fahd says

    WWBBD? Just stay home and cook?

    When you get appointed on something like this, I think you should take advice. Find some good PR people/handlers who can help you say the right thing.

    Is there more money in silence?

  12. says

    It would be foolish to expect bravery from Boitano. He is a coward. His staying in the closet, long past his period of relevance sent a message to the world, that there was something so wrong with him that he had to keep it a secret. He is not a role model or an activist, he’s a cautionary tale.

  13. Mike Ryan says

    Boitano is a spineless wuss. He deserves as much bad press as can be thrown at him. Round of applause for Queer Nation – and keep disrupting every appearance by Boitano. Boycott the Sochi Olympics as well as the upcoming World Games to be held in Russia. Buy nothing from the vendors sponsoring these events. Anything less and you are aiding the enemy.

  14. says

    Ah, yet another photo opportunity for Queer Nation, and yet another easy target. Count on them to go after small fry like Boitano and give a pass to the real forces of homophobia in society, like the Right Wing “faith-based” media industry. So predictable, and so very pathetic. Yawn . . .

  15. andy says

    To the critics of Queer Nation making ridiculous remarks about going to Russia themselves, I guarantee you that plenty would if someone bought their ticket. What are you doing to address the horrible situation in Russia for LGBT?! QN is getting up and the crack of dawn and standing in the freezing cold risking arrest. Brian Boitano has a debt to pay. He’s led a life that is only possible because of activists before him who’ve suffered much the same as the LGBT people of Russia suffer now. It is his duty to pay it. I’m glad there are the people of QN to remind him of that.

  16. Daniel says

    While I was a member of QN back in the 90s, it seems they still don’t have a great sense of PR. They need to pick their targets with a little more consideration. It just doesn’t look good for us to be piling on people like Boitano when there are actual, real anti-gays out there who are doing the community real damage.

  17. says

    I was at the event last night, and I came in just in time for the confrontation.. I kept replaying the events in my head. I think there is nothing wrong with expression your opinion but the way that the representatives from Queer Nation went about expressing their opinion came across as hostile and judgmental. I am a proud out gay lesbian in New York City and I encourage everyone to be out but I also have to realize that I can’t tell other people how to live their lives. I have read the above opinions and agree that activists before me has led the path for me to be out and I am oh, so grateful, but I don’t think it is productive or helpful to start screaming out in a forum that is not its purpose—– you are a coward. Remember it’s often not what you say, but how you say it. Perhaps, next time, they can come up with a better way to deliver their message.

  18. I Disagree says

    Frankly, I don’t see what anything QN does or anything people posting here is going to do for our brothers and sisters in Russia.

    Boitano is going there as part of the delegation, and it’s more than QN and everybody opining here will EVER do.

    That’s the truth.

    Don’t be supportive, you’re just proving why people don’t feel the need to come out. Why would anyone want to be associated with you ?

    You’re ineffectual because you make no personal sacrifices whatsoever, take zero risks, and just demand everybody else do it for you.

    To be blunt, you’re sickening.

  19. jar says

    The snivelling cowards commenting here are the same voices that would have opposed QN and Act Up back in the 80’s and early 90’s. They are inured to learning from history, but here’s a lesson for you: Your bourgeois anxieties about hostile activism are your own. Own them. Don’t try to impose them on those who do the fighting that you are too frightened to do yourself. QN has done more for you than Brian Boitano has ever done. Indeed, the Brian Boitanos thwart the movement by taking a place of power and shamefully refusing to use it for the greater good. And they deserve to be called out for it. If it were left to the lot of you apologists for silence, much of our community would have been oblierated 30 years ago (which is not to diminish the great devastation we did endure). Shame on you.

  20. andy3433 says

    At the very least Brian Boitano should not be introduced as a champion of human rights. His coming out was accidental from the White House appointment simply because everyone and probably his own mother assumed he was gay. Since then, he hasn’t said a thing other than about himself.

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