as i’ve been talking on the Twitters about going next month to the Winter Olympics, several people have brought up fears for my safety as a member of the LGBT community.
that actually is not high on my list of concerns.
while i’m definitely not a fan of their anti-gay laws, i did just fine in St. Petersburg last September and i figure as long as i don’t go around waving a rainbow flag i should be ok.
here’s what i am worried about, though:
- terrorist attacks and overbearing security given what happened in Volgograd last week, i fear an Atlanta-esque event happening and/or way too much security to prevent something like that from happening. (of course i’d rather take the security and surly soldiers ruining my Olympics high.) realistically, though, i’m only in Sochi for less than 14 hours, so statistically speaking, chances of anything happening while i’m there are pretty low, though i hope the entire event is uneventful in this respect. at least now it’s clear what the spectator passes are for — when i applied for it i thought it was just more bureaucracy but now i know they have a specific security purpose.
- a snafu in getting to Sochi my time in Russia this go-around is limited, so i don’t have a lot of leeway. my flight lands less than three and a half hours before my event (curling, of course) starts. if the flight is delayed…yikes. trip in vain!
- problems with transportation between the airport and Olympic Park the spectator transportation system does not have a good link between these two locations. rail stops running at 2 AM and buses stop at 1 AM and as far as i can tell, there’s just one bus line that makes a direct connection. i’d rather not have to pay for a cab if i stay to explore the Coastal Cluster after the event. (my current plan is to hang out until the last train runs from Olympic Park towards Sochi and then take the 24-hour train to the airport; my flight back to Moscow leaves at 5:30 AM.)
so yeah — while the homophobia will never be far from mind, i have more immediate and practical/logistical things to be worried about.
oh! one more thing, i need to try to find mascots to take a picture with in my limited time!
Rather than focussing purely on your own personal safety, is there anything you can do whilst there to show your support for the Russian LGBT community? Visibility and bravery is the way we have advanced our rights in other countries and this event is a perfect opportunity to show the Russian people and government that we’re nothing to be be fearful of.
hi james! while i agree that something must be done, i am not willing to risk my personal safety while there (or jail time). i will be armchair and pocketbook supporting Russian LGBT groups, which are as far as i am willing to go at the moment.
oh, forgot to add — as linked to above, i did try to go to a queer event while in St. Petersburg. if i had more time in Moscow i would try to do the same there.
By visiting this country and spending at least 1 cent, you are supporting and aiding the violence against others in your community. You are paying for the arrests, the pay check of the police who harm those in the LGBT community and letting the government know that it’s OK to do this. The tourist will still come and spend. Every action has a consequence and just because you may not be hassled, the result of your visit will affect those left behind and finance the continued oppression of others.
By living in the United States and spending at least 1 cent, you are supporting and aiding the violence against other countries and the killing of innocent civilians via drones all over the world. You are paying for the missiles, bullets, IEDs, spies, and the pay check of military contractors who often do not follow international law and harm those in the international community and letting the government know that it’s OK to do this. People will still spend in the USA. Every action has a consequence and just because you may not be hassled, the result of your spending will affect those left behind and finance the continued oppression of others.
Patrick – Your comment is irrelevant. It can be applied to so many other situations. JP Morgan Chase just paid a $1.7 billion settlement so they would not be persecuted for the Bernard Madoff’s embezzlement of billions from innocent customers. Using your logic, giving one cent to Chase by using one of their credit cards would have helped by letting the Chase know that it’s OK to contribute to the financial ruin of many innocent people.
Jon-While I take your point. The author of this blog is self identified Gay. This action directly affects his community. It is not some overseas drone attack on civilians. It is his community. If he was from Yemen and supported a US military contractor perhaps then you can make the comparison.
And the Chase reference. That is quite a world away from violence, torture, imprisonment. It was a affinity scam that the mostly greedy fell for (bankers, the jewish community and wealthy investors). Reform of banking and jail time for executives! That’s a whole different conversation where you and I would probably agree. The GLBT community should not support the Russian governments actions with their financial support because the results affect their community. As for the rest of the issues you brought up, each of us need to decide with every purchase who or what we support and try to do our best to be able to sleep at night. Some things are beyond our control, some we can make a difference as individuals. Know the difference and you’ve made a good start.