Will Johnny Weir wear a rainbow pin to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics?

I’m all for openly-gay Olympian Johnny Weir making up his own mind about whether to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  (Weir says he will.)

But when I read recent Weir’s statements about the matter, calling the gay boycott of the Olympics “wrong,” I couldn’t help but wonder if Johnny Weir really cares about the awful plight of gay and trans Russians.

But maybe my fears are unfounded. Maybe Johnny Weir is a strong supporter of LGBT rights, and simply thinks gay visibility is the more appropriate response.

Okay, I’m game.

Blake-SkjellerupIf Johnny Weir thinks visibility is more important, then is Johnny Weir willing to follow the lead of openly-gay New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup commit, and commit to wearing a rainbow pin while competing at the Sochi Olympics?

Skjellerup has called on other Olympic athletes to follow his lead and promise to wear the pin. Will Johnny Weir respond to the call?

Keep in mind that the Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko just said yesterday that he’d throw Olympians like Weir in jail if they dare do anything “gay” in public during the Olympics. A new Russian law bans anything perceived as pro-gay, including speech or articles of clothing.

Let me remind me you of exactly what Mutko just said:

“The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors,” Mutko told the R-Sport news agency.

“No one is banning a sportsman with a non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he will be brought to responsibility.

“As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country,” Mutko added. “Come (to Sochi), but don’t get young people involved, don’t make propaganda. This is what we are talking about.”

Johnny Weir says he doesn’t want to get “political,” because that’s not what the Olympics are about.  But here’s the problem for Weir.  His spouse is a man, Victor Voronov.  If Johnny Weir does anything during the 2104 Sochi Winter Olympics to acknowledge his husband in the presence of children (virtual presence or otherwise), then Johnny Weir and his husband Victor are going to jail.

That means Weir’s husband had better not be in attendance during his Olympic competitions, and he’d better not be by Weir’s side at any medal ceremonies, or any other venues in which children are either present, or watching on TV.  Or Johnny Weir and his husband are going to jail for breaking Russian law, which is quite broad in its definition of what constitutes a public display of homosexuality.

This isn’t about politics.  It’s about whether athletes like Johnny Weir want to acknowledge their families the way every other straight Olympian does throughout the games.  If Johnny Weir chooses to compete in an Olympic-sized closet, that’s certainly his choice.

But here’s to hoping that Johnny Weir realizes that having your husband by your side, and being openly gay, isn’t “political.”

At least not until the folks hosting your apolitical Olympics throw your husband’s sorry ass in jail.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • unpoetaloco

    Speaking of hijacking our movement, is anyone else pissed off that straight America is commodifying the gay rights movement and using it to promote their own celebrity? Personally, I don’t want straight ex-jocks speaking for our movement. I’m happy for their support, but they should not be our spokespeople, and they should not be influencing the direction of the movement. I’m also just a little pissed about statements like “break the stereotypes” and the push to normativize and masculinize gayness.

  • Ryans Dad

    Johnnie Weir would have to place 1st or 2nd in the US Championships in order to be considered for the Olympics. It wont happen, He has no quads,, is erratic in skating , and the USA won’t take a chance on his lack of current skating skills. Doublful that Evan Lysacek will skate either,, both are over the hill in content.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Blacks make up less than 3% of the population of Canada compared to 13% in the US. If you want to pull a random racial diversity insult out of your ass, a better comparison would be to ask why there hasn’t been a Prime Minister of Asian heritage, since they make up about 15% of the population of Canada. There may be nothing enacted in the US comparable to Russia, yet… give Republicans a chance, but when it comes to gay rights, seems to me Canada has reason to be smug. Nation-wide marriage equality, and federal anti-discrimination law explicitly including sexual orientation. When do you suppose the US will have those things?

  • Annski1

    Two points..I wonder if thee is some internalized homophobia here with piling on Johnny Weir..ridiculous he is continuing to write about the situation in Russia. At least he speaks the language and has zillions of Russian fans.. Second it is the U.S. involved in Pinkwashing here. They pretend to care about our community but it is all about punishing Russia for granting asylum to Edward Snowden. We are being used. If they care so much why are they giving billions of dollars to prop up the military government of Honduras that has killed LGBT leaders. Also it is good to remember Jesse Owens didn’t boycott going to Munich and Tommy Smith didn’t boycott before his demonstration on the medal stand..Go Johnny!!

  • vonlmo

    Well said. Yes the IOC is deeply corrupt & ,as has been proven, plays politics in its Olympic scoring. What’s more the IOC will not permit Sochi morph into The Gay Games. Remember they once prohibited “The Gay Olympics.”

  • Whitewitch

    I don’t know him and I suspect you don’t either. I only know him by his skating skill and a stint on a cooking show on The Food Network. Let us see what he does and then state how we feel about it.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Yes, there is a lot of anti-gay activity in the U.S. And no, it has not been a sudden transformation here. Gay acceptance has been gradual, and recently the pace has picked up considerably. Two reasons for that.

    One was gay activism. Two was that a lot of quite normal people came out and let it be known that we’re gay. It’s far easier to accept a foreign concept if is suddenly not so foreign (a friend comes out and you know him or her to be a decent person).

    There are pockets of anti-gay bias here in the U.S., mostly in the rural and southern areas of the country. In the larger urban areas, one is more likely to be accepted. There are exceptions (New York City had a gruesome murder of a gay man in early June). Although Canada, for example, is known for its acceptance of diversity, occasionally you will hear stories of anti-gay activity; even in places like Vancouver and Toronto (though it is more rare than in the U.S.)

    But notice that among the everyday people, anti-gay activity is increasingly regarded as being stupid and as being on the wrong side of public opinion. Not so in Russia, these assaults have essentially been codified into law (the authorities turn a blind eye), and of course there’s the very broad anti-propaganda law. Russia is, essentially, about 75 years behind us in the acceptance of gay people.

    I lay the blame for this at the feet of Old Testament religious fundamentalists. Any religion that does not embrace gay people and indeed, any minority will find itself extinct in the coming years. From my observations (and polling seems to support this), Millennial generation folks disapprove of such institutions and generally find religion to be pointless.

    Russia, on the other hand, has a long row to hoe. The situation is much worse there and they will likely pay a price for that stupidity.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Where the hell does a homophobic heterosexual who wallows straight privilege get off criticizing any gay person on gay rights? Go marry your fucking husband again.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Dear, we’re chastising him for being self-absorbed and pro-Russian.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, there’s nothing remotely comparable to this pogrom. You’ve imbibed so much Canadian smugness that you’re insufferable. How’s that first black prime minister? Oh, wait…

  • DastiusKrazitauc

    A couple of quotes from an article Weir wrote that make me doubt he will protest at all:

    “I was very stressed about competing in front of an audience that I consider to be very much like a home audience because my husband, Victor, is Russian.”

    “I couldn’t help but smile while listening to president Vladimir Putin speak about making dreams come true in Sochi.

  • mark_in_toronto

    All of this anger against Russia is a good thing, but I find it interesting that America (of which I’m still a citizen) suddenly is against homophobic laws and hate crimes. There is still a LOT anti-gay activity in the USA. Just saying . . .

  • Clevelandchick

    As you say…he loves ‘himself’, which is why he’s willing to compete despite Russia’s heinous treatment of gay people and laws against them while not speaking out. Himself is all he cares about.

  • TampaZeke

    How funny that while he was being cagey about coming out gay he was in everyone’s face and shoving his Russophilia down everyone’s throat!

  • TampaZeke

    You mean the Johnny Weir who spent years pushing, promoting, loving, adoring, wearing and being all things “Russian” (even though he wasn’t), at the same time that he was avoiding, dodging, and complaining about being asked about being gay, even though he was?

    That Johnny Weir?

    I think we can be pretty sure that he’s not going to do anything that’s not 100% for and about Johnny Weir and his Russia fetish.

  • Jennifer Von B

    Don’t chastise an openly gay athlete for not wearing a rainbow pin. He’s completely out, that’s gay visibility, he doesn’t need to wear a pin for people to know he’s gay.

  • BloggerDave

    In that case, this is a great time to tear down that façade by holding them accountable and calling them out on their hypocrisy at every turn…

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Excellent idea: a UTube and Facebook swarm.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    We can expect the IOC to weigh in at some point, probably by issuing some kind of draconian “no public displays of gayness or gay support or you’ll be disqualified” rule.

    Remember, their motivation is always money. Their progressive inclusiveness language is nothing but a facade.

  • UncleBucky

    Move it there now. Let Russia boycott being boycotted.

  • BloggerDave

    Weir is very naïve and stupid… He has no idea how broad the law is and how being just himself will break it…

  • UncleBucky

    Make-up is a part of TV, cinema and theatrical events. They’re gonna have to arrest the whole Bolshoi Ballet male contingent.

    Oh. Maybe they will. Yikes.

  • UncleBucky

    An idea.

    Maybe Weir and a few other Olympians (gay, allies, no matter…) should put together a video similar to that of Prop 8 the Musical. Or a series of PSAs. But instead of a musical, a simulation or a scenario of Weir being there, being himself, getting a good luck kiss from his hubby or whatever, and then showing the Russian promised aftermath of that. I am sure that there would be plenty of Russians in various countries who could participate in such a series of videos. And that they would show graphically what the Russians have promised.

    And then show it over and over. Show it to companies like NBC. Show it to Coca-Cola. and show it to the Russian ambassador, either in person or virtually (“this is addressed to Boris somebody….”).

    Start now. Don’t wait.

  • tomtallis

    First, of course, Johnny Weir has to qualify for the Olympics.

  • perljammer

    The Huffington Post article linked to by lynchie above states, “The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that
    religious schools, protected by the First Amendment, have the right to
    hire and fire teachers based on whether or not their actions are in line
    with religious doctrine.” The article contains more on the legal considerations; it’s worth a read for anyone who’s unsure or curious about what the law actually says.

  • J.W. Swift

    Cool. Wasn’t sure quite how it was intended. And of course, my own response was intended to be humorous as well, being a throw-back to the oft-repeated line in that one episode of “Seinfeld”.

  • Outspoken1

    As has been suggested – ALL Olympians from ALL tolerant nations should have a rainbow insignia for support of equal rights – not just ‘gay’ rights. And ALL Olympians should state they are ‘gay’; just how would one sort out straight from gay? And why would that matter?

  • Whitewitch

    I can not even imagine that Weir by his very presence is not proudly declaring his gayness. He is OUT and really OUT….he loves himself and I think he will not “hide” who he is. If the Russian’s don’t like it – I guess they will have to arrest him and perhaps than this barbaric shit will hit the proverbially fan.

  • AndyinChicago

    Whoops. Sorry; I get them confused.

  • keirmeister

    Not to criticize Weir for his choices, but if he thinks the Olympics isn’t political, he’s incredibly naïve.

    Granted, it shouldn’t be, but bringing all of the different countries together in sporting competition is almost about as political as it gets – particularly when it comes to petitioning the committee to host the games.

    Politics (from Wikipedia): …The practice and theory of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.

    When it comes to one’s rights, it’s ALWAYS political, and it’s ALWAYS personal.

  • Butch1

    The Olympic Committee had better have a corral of lawyers with them to bail out all of the spouses and none of them had better have a bruise on them because the cameras will be rolling and the PR WILL be bad for the Russians when the whole world sees what they do to their guests when they arrest the spouses of the Olympians for only being their spouses and nothing else. It will start looking mighty bad for them and their country. Putin had better be on top of this and soon.

  • DastiusKrazitauc

    Mary Cheney (I never want to look at Liz Cheney).

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Yes, CA has sexual orientation in their employment anti-discrimination law. As well as marital status. Seems to me that both would be legally viable in a complaint. But I am unsure of any exceptions carved out for religious institutions. The Catholic church so desperately wants to make sure they are an organization of bigots on the wrong side of history, yet again.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Absolutely.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    No, there isn’t anything wrong with that. I hope everyone takes my comment in the spirit in which it was intended – humor.

    I should have inserted a link to http://instantrimshot.com after my last sentence to make that clear.

  • Me

    The church doesn’t have to accept gay marriages but if gay marriage has become legal in the US, particularly in a state where a catholic school is established, that catholic school should not be allowed to fire its gay employees for being gay. I don’t know if CA has a non-discriminatory law in its books that protects gay citizens of CA from this type of discrimination.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Not at all. But I’ll be under Russia’s definition of “gay propaganda” a guy wearing make-up is exhibit A.

  • dula

    I didn’t know that Michael Lucas won’t bend over…backwards for gay rights.

  • J.W. Swift

    …not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    I don’t hold out a lot of hope for Johnny Weir wearing a rainbow pin. For years he was cagey about coming out and when he finally did, everyone basically said “we already knew, next!”

    But I don’t think it would take wearing a rainbow anything for him to get arrested as being a suspected gay spreading propaganda. Look at his wardrobe. The man simply can’t fly under the radar, it’s not in his makeup.

    Which he also wears.

  • JNo

    He doesn’t have a prayer of making the team anyway. However, he may still go. That could be interesting…

  • sherman

    I was thinking in lieu of a complete boycott, that all countries that believe in equality should have rainbow uniforms.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    What does the action of a Catholic school have to do with what America accepts? That just tells us what the Vatican accepts.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Are you kidding? He’s never been anything but a shallow, self-promoting prima donna.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    That little shallow, self-promoting prima donna has never done anything useful for the movement, which is why he has no credibility in even having an opinion on the appropriate response here. Fuck him.

  • AndyinChicago

    Can we stop pretending that because someone is gay that they have anything to do with the fight for gay rights? Look at Liz Cheney or Michael Lucas. Some people are just out for themselves and their whims. I’ve never found Weir to be anything but self serving.

  • B,T.

    He will not compete in Sochi so what is the problem?

  • SomeYankInRio

    If the US Olympic committee selected uniforms whose design included a rainbow would the entire team be arrested?

  • Tyler Albertario

    Don’t forget Montreal 1976

  • JefferyK

    Well, I have been wondering what the athletes were going to do. I mean, you spend your whole life training to compete only to be told that your safety at the Olympics isn’t assured because of who you are. Personally, I would love to see the U.S. boycott the entire event. Short of that, I would love to see some solidarity and civil disobedience expressed by the athletes during the competition.

  • txiconoclast

    The Olympics not about politics? Please. Just a sample…

    1936 – Berlin
    1968 – Mexico City
    1972 – Munich
    1980 – Moscow
    1984 – Los Angeles

  • Badgerite

    It looks as if Russia is trying to do social engineering with the young. This is not about pedophilia and they know it. It is about trying to put the genie back in the bottle with respect to the attitudes of the younger generation. The ‘dead hand’ trying to rule the future from the past. They have looked at the west and noticed how successful Harvey Milk’s strategy of uncloseting and thereby establishing a personal knowledge and connection to gay people, has been in breaking down discriminatory attitudes, at least among the next generation. The only way to stop that natural connection and ease with the idea is to make sure that the gay community lives in fear and in the closet. Apparently when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s soul, he failed to notice the SOB in there.

  • Tawwaba

    This situation in Russia makes me ill.

    Would the Olympics to be held in Munich if Hitler were openly saying that Jews who ask Jewish and attend would be rounded up and taken to camps? Or beaten by thugs in the streets? How is this any different? (As a straight daughter of Holocaust survivor.)

    I don’t drink vodka or go to bars that serve or don’t serve it.

  • TomTO

    I love this line. “If Johnny Weir chooses to compete in an Olympic-sized closet, that’s certainly his choice.”
    I think Weir was way too quick to respond and hopefully after seeing gay teens and young gay men being tortured on video, it will change his mind. If he doesn’t, he deserves a daily dose of shame.

  • NCMan

    Doesn’t this theory of Johnny Weir even attending the Olympics depend upon him competing and winning a slot on the US team? When was the last time he even finished in a top 3 position in a US championship competition? He hasn’t even competed since 2010.

  • lynchie

    In Glendora, California a gay teacher was fired the day after he married his long time partner.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/gay-teacher-fired-catholic-school_n_3690516.html

    So if anyone thinks this issue is resolved they are wrong. Moreover, to poke the Russian government in the eye in Russia is to risk arrest and perhaps worse. Move the Olympics to Canada.

  • Thom Allen

    Johnny can wear his pin with his husband by his side with impunity – IF the Sochi Winter Olympics of Hate are moved to Vancouver. Reportedly, the Olympic venues are still available for use there. http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/international-olympic-committee-ioc-relocate-the-2014-winter-games-to-vancouver-2

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws

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