Olympic ‘pride’ in anti-gay Sochi

(Megan Cooke/AQ)
(Megan Cooke/AQ)

While the Sochi Winter Olympics may be surrounded in outrage and boycotts in the face of Russia’s anti-gay laws, St. Thomas’ LGBTQ organization Spectrum refuses to let Putin ruin their enjoyment of the games.

“Unless our national team boycotts, how can we boycott [watching] our athletes?” said John Staples, vice-president of the universities’ LGBTQ organization. “It’s not their fault that Russia has these ridiculous laws.”

Spectrum meets every Friday to discuss LGBTQ issues and in their last meeting the group talked about their feelings surrounding Sochi 2014. Not one member of the group was boycotting and many emphasized that their love of the games was still strong. However, all agreed they wished the games had gone to another city.

“I think it’s in a horrible, horrible location,” Staples said. “Not only are they ill-prepared to host it, but I don’t think it’s any surprise that the anti-gay laws really put a damper on things.”

Many cities throughout Canada and the world, including Fredericton, are reacting against the anti-gay laws by flying the rainbow flag to show solidarity for LGBTQ athletes. Staples said Spectrum drafted a letter to UNB and STU urging them to follow suit.

“The letter is definitely being noticed and talked about and acted upon,” said Staples.

Ken Spragg, another member of the group, said the Olympic committee might have realized what they were getting into when they chose to have the games in a country under President Putin’s rule.

“The committee that decides where the Olympics is going to be held is a very political institution. They play politics every time there’s a bid to be the host city.”

He said the Russian regime’s policies brings economic and social disorder along with it.

“Part of me isn’t surprised because what do you expect when you give something like [the Olympics] to an authoritarian thug,” said Spragg.

Staples notes this isn’t the first time the Olympics has been held in countries with opposing values to the Western world, such as Berlin during the Third Reich. But Spragg holds the organizers of the Olympics partially responsible for the country they chose to hold the games.

“Going along with the Olympics in a country that is run in the way Russia is … legitimizes the whole regime that’s in place,” said Spragg.

However, the group still supports the LGBTQ athletes themselves. They hope others will do the same, even if Russia or the organizers of the Olympics might leave something to be desired.

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  • Ken Spragg

    I’m glad I could contribute to the article, and I’m flattered by the allusion to noble, virile buck, but for the sake of future historians chronicling my social and cultural impact, it’s “Spragg,” not “Stagg.” 😉

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