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.
If 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.