So What Can You or I Do About Sochi?

One of the questions that comes up a lot among members of the LGBT community and its allies is: What can people do to show their support for LGBT Russians and their distaste for how the International Olympic Committee and the main Olympic sponsors have handled the issue?

Today’s Prairie Dog notes that Russian LGBT organizations do NOT support a boycott of the Games. But there are things you and I can do to show our support.

Wear Our Principle on our Sleeves

Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter currently states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender of otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.” The International Olympic Committee claims that this principle already includes sexual orientation, but has done little to guarantee the right of athletes and spectators to speak freely in Sochi.

In response, two LGBT organizations—All Out and Athlete Ally—have partnered with American Apparel to produce a line of clothing based on Principle 6. A group of activists, current Olympians, and past Olympians has endorsed Principle 6, and will be sporting logos on their clothing during the Games.

Since Principle 6 does not specifically mention gay or lesbian people, it will not technically violate the Russian law.

Net proceeds from the clothing will be used to support Russian LGBT organizations.

Boycott the Sponsors, Not the Games

Michele Tyndall is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR), which operates the Q Nightclub on Broad Street and the community centre in the same building. She says that people should boycott the products of companies that are either endorsing the Olympics or the policies currently affecting the Russian LGBTQ community. The GLCR has already removed all products produced in Russia from their menu.

Tyndall believes that such campaigns can, over time, have a powerful impact. “One of the biggest actions the community took was the Coors boycott in the late seventies in response to the brewery’s antigay practices. As a result, Coors now has some of the strongest GLBTQ protections for its employees and supports GLBTQ rights across North America.”

Many groups have already had great fun with online campaigns rebranding sponors like Coke as haters.  It’s turned into a bit of a public relations nightmare for some of them, but no one can say they weren’t warned about the consequences of turning a blind eye.

The largest sponsors of the Sochi Olympics are Coca-Cola, Atos, Dow, General Electric, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.

Donate to Human Rights Groups like #loveconquershate

Tyndall noted that there is currently a poster campaign in Regina to support and raise funds for the Human Rights Campaign#loveconquershate for GLBTQ rights in Russia. There was also a drag show on January 25th hosted by Regina’s drag Entertainers of the year to raise funds for the same group. For more information on the Russian Freedom Fund, visit

Support the Pride House International Campaign

The 2010 Vancouver Olympics included a Pride House in the Olympic Village, which provided a venue for LGBT athletes, spectators and supporters to come together. Unfortunately, Russia has denied the request to host a Pride House during the Games in Sochi, and so far, no country including Canada has taken up the suggestion to host Pride Houses in their respective national hospitality houses. In response, many communities around the world are hosting Remote Pride Houses, including Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo. Unfortunately, no Remote Pride House has been announced in Regina or any other Saskatchewan community.


Russia’s Idea of Welcoming LGBT Visitors to Sochi?

The Winter Games start in less than three days and Vladimir Putin says LGBT people are welcome in Russia so long as they” leave children in peace”. Those comments reflect the widespread practice of equating gays with pedophiles in Russia and have inspired groups like Occupy Pedophilia. This group of thugs has bashed, tortured and even kidnapped queer Russians and the police have done little or nothing to stop them.

The following video compiled by the Human Rights Campaign includes disturbing footage of many of those attacks. Anyone who gets the urge to vacation in Russia after watching the Olympics might want to keep these images in mind.

Neil Young: “Keep Your Word. And Clean Up Your Mess.”

Neil YoungNeil Young says that his parents raised him to do two things. “ Keep your word. And clean up your mess.”

The iconic Canadian rocker told reporters today that the federal government has done neither. It has failed to keep the promises of the treaties. It has failed  to properly oversee oilsands development and the consequence has been the devastation of  the land around Fort MacMurray.

Young’s response has been a  a four city benefit concert tour to raise money for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s (ACFN) Legal Defense Fund.  He told a press conference earlier today that he hopes the benefit concerts will raise a minimum of $300,000.

Young did not shy away from the controversy that has followed his tour. Instead, he addressed it head on, telling reporters, “ This is not about me. This is not about whether I’m qualified to talk about this. “

Much of the coverage of the concert tour in recent days by other media outlets has centered on some of the colourful language Young has used to describe the impact of the oilsands on the landscape around Fort Mac Murray. The rock star did not back down from those earlier comments; in fact, he followed them with a dramatic prediction of what would happen if treaties with First Nations were not honoured, a pronouncement that will no doubt garner  attention in some other media outlets.

But the real purpose of the tour is to Defend the Treaties. and Young was accompanied by a number of people with something to say about those issues, including Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam, other ACFN officials, guests from Treaty 4 First Nations, renowned ecologist David Schindler and legendary environmentalist David Suzuki.. Continue reading “Neil Young: “Keep Your Word. And Clean Up Your Mess.””

Finding/Founding His Religion

Performance artist. Witch Doctor. Cultural engineer.

Michael Dudeck is all of those.  And this week, he has come to Regina’s Queer City Cinema Performatorium  to talk about, and share, his work–creating a queer religion.

Most queer people have, at best, an ambivalent relationship with traditional religion. Far too many of us were raised in faith systems that made us ashamed of who we were, counselled us to hide what makes us different from the norm. Those who had the good fortune to attend a relatively tolerant church were, at best, the object of our pastor, or our congregation’s, compassion. We were tolerated out of a sense of decency and common humanity.

But when we read sacred texts, or participated in rituals like mass, or celebrated holy festivals like Passover, we never saw ourselves reflected in our religion. There weren’t a lot of stories that talked about the crucial role that our queer forebears had played in the mythology of our church. We were invisible to our God. And as a result, he/she was invisible to us.

For many of us, a by-product of the coming out process was losing our religion. Not like the REM song. Literally breaking from God.

Continue reading “Finding/Founding His Religion”