Long have I loved ice skating. Watching the athlete-artists glide and twirl and toss themselves across the ice comes second only to reading for that which I most love to do on languorous weekends, curled up, comfily wrapped in quilts and blankets, cozily planted in my batcave. So, it follows, friends anticipated that I would be excited about the start of these Winter Olympics.
Not so much.
Or how devastated I am that I won’t get to see the chronically enthusiastic and darling Jason Brown skate his ponytail around the rink in his first Olympics! I have been ice skater obsessed since my teens when I read Tennessee Williams’ novel, Moise and the World of Reason, and determined that before I died I would have a passionate love affair with an ice skater. I’m not dead yet.
But, I digress.
I find it incomprehensible that a country with institutionalized hate laws, a country wherein people are regularly tortured and maimed with impunity, where the perpetrators of those crimes are spared any legitimate law enforcement effort to curtail their terrorist activities, a country where JUST TODAY protestors were arrested for daring to speak up about gay rights, that such a country would be chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the games.
Furthermore, I find it despicable that sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s and Visa spend tens of millions on ads and have to be practically boycotted, their websites hijacked, before they even begin to dialogue about the human rights atrocities they are supporting by paying these fees – in part – to the corrupt and hate-mongering Russian government.
I have read and heard the arguments that the athletes have nothing to do with this; that the Olympics are a sacred ceremony that should be absent politics. But, for me, this is NOT politics. This is BASIC HUMAN DECENCY.
For me, it feels as if war has been declared – both openly and covertly – on LGBT people and one either sides for freedom and justice for all, or one does not. For me, there is no neutral here. Neutral is an acquiescence to this sort of thing as depicted by the Russia Freedom Fund:
So, no. I am not watching. No, I do not think anyone should have gone to these games in a country where such hatred is not only tolerated, but, in which the government is itself complicit. No, I do not think the IOC has done or said enough about this travesty. No, I do not think the crumbs of carefully worded, namby-pamby support for “diversity” that Coca-Cola and McDonald’s and Visa have thrown to (or, more like, at) the LGBT community are enough.
I’ve been told both that I am too emotional about these sorts of thing and that I am NOT loud enough and ought to be more an activist. I knew I had to say something about it, my feelings, but, honestly, there are so many others who are far more eloquent. Read Joe. My. God. (click here for his website) every day. I do.
That said, I understand that not everyone feels the way I do about this. Read here,(CLICK) an article in The New York Times, in which some LGBT folk explain why they are watching, and others, why they are not.
I get it. I disagree with the pro-watching arguments, but, I get it.
So, the thing is, for some people I am not activist enough. To some, I am an elitist, able to hide, comfortably ensconced, warm and well-fed in my batcave where I can pronounce from afar my ought-nots and will-nots. For some, I am a liberal-devil reactionary. Others try to school me that a corporation is not a person, that its only duty is to make money. I disagree with that as well.And I do NOT disagree with those who say all of the above about me, all of it is true to one degree or another some days.
And so, here’s the thing: I have – through a long and torturous and personally painful journey, during which I lost quite a few loved ones – come to understand that I don’t need to agree with you, or you with me, about everything. I don’t need you NOT to watch the Olympics and I don’t think any less of you for watching them – with this caveat; I know in my heart that if you FELT in your heart about it the way I do, you wouldn’t watch either. Which is why the few very dear friends I have, remain very dear friends. We are all quite different with some very disparate beliefs, none of which separate us – because we know about one another that regardless of beliefs the other might have that we find foreign, they are all built on a foundation of a loving, beautiful soul.
We can say (and do) and MEAN IT: “You don’t FEEL that way, you don’t SEE IT the way I see it, and I AM NOT JUDGING YOU FOR THAT.”
In that way, we are all allowed to FEEL it and SEE it the way we do, and I am allowed to say, “Oh, I can’t watch, much as I love the winter Olympic sports, because for me, watching would be like supporting fag-bashing, and so, I just can’t.”
And I am (and they are) grown up enough to love and accept without judgement.
Although, where I guess I do judge are those instances where I KNOW people FEEL in their hearts – KNOW in their hearts that their actions will hurt another – and continue to do it anyway – but that is another story for another time.
So, this weekend I will be reading Timothy Schaffert’s new novel (can I talk about it ANY MORE) Swan Gondola. And, not watching the Olympics. Much as I want to. P.S. My DIVINE local bookstore, The Curious Iguana, (visit their website HERE and follow them on Twitter HERE) who went out of their way to get me #Swandola despite the ice storm and power outage, is a GREAT PLACE to go to find things to read and fill YOUR HOURS while you are NOT watching the Olympics or drinking Coca-Cola products or eating McDonald’s food or charging stuff you really don’t need on your Visa. SO GO – BUY A BOOK – SUPPORT WRITERS AND INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS.