He who pays the piper calls the tune. If Sochi 2014 goes down in history as the most homophobic Olympics ever–and it will–it will be the legacy the sponsors have themselves bankrolled the shameful endeavor.
Minky Worden of Human Rights Watched explained at length to Michelangelo Signorile how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sponsors tracked this legislation and didn’t lift a finger to attempt to persuade Russia to stop it. (See: How Olympic Sponsors and the IOC Could Have Stopped Russia’s Anti-Gay Law — And Didn’t.)
Sponsors signed on to the Olympics Games as expressed by the ideals in the charter. If the International Olympic Committee was not willing to defend those ideals–and they are not–the sponsors had a right and even an obligation to disentangle themselves from a corrupted enterprise.
Aren’t you just being bullies?
No. This is free enterprise at work. Since Ford Motor Company brought America the Ed Sullivan Show, corporations have sought to bask in the reflected light of popular and glamorous sponsorships. But there is nothing popular or glamorous about Putin’s corrupt vanity project and we’re just telling them so. And there is no glory in the reflected light of this tarnished Olympics. Only shame.
The stain of human rights atrocities and cynical political demagoguery hangs over this Olympics and it hangs over the brands associated with it. They have at every turn failed to stand up for the ideals expressed in the increasingly irrelevant Olympic Charter. We are just registering our dissatisfaction with the enormous corporations who have spent millions funding this and ignoring Russian’s open war on gays.
Why don’t you send a letter? Make a phone call?
Many people have, and letters have failed. HRC sent sponsors an open letter back in August, sponsors ignored it. Millions have signed internet petitions on sites like Change.org, The Sum of Us, All Out, Democracy for American and others. Sponsors ignored them.
The outrage did not just dissipate because these companies decided their best course was to stick their fingers in their ears and sing la-la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you.
Can I give you money or to an LGBT group?
We are a public awareness campaign aimed at holding the decision makers and power brokers accountable. We accept no corporate grants, donations, nor would we enter into a corporate deal to commoditized suffering into a fashion statement. We fund our ongoing operations through the old fashioned, antiquated method passing of a hat at our meetings. You may sign up for our groups’ mailing list here to keep informed of further actions.
In September, author, journalist LGBT Activist Masha Gessen and Russian ex-pat said the best course of action for persecuted LGBT community is to “get the Hell out”of Russia. Monetary donations may be most useful to groups working to provide LGBT people with immigration political asylum (who may also be assisting people in other countries like Uganda and Nigeria. Queer Nation NY endorses no specific organization, and suggests, as with any charitable donation it is best to research for yourself an organization’s effectiveness before sending a check.